On Probabilistic Relativism


One of the theses of post-modernism may be summed up in two words: ANYTHING GOES. That is to say, there is nothing that has .
On the one hand, this seems to be a profound insight in that a good deal of what we accept as true or reject as false is related to our own previous knowledge, background, perspectives, etc.
On the other hand, even if we grant this at the theoretical level, it is important to consider two dimensions of relativism:
(a) Knowledge relativism: The so-called scientific interpretation of natural phenomena versus other modes. Here we must introduce the idea of probability. Even if one supposes that different interpretations of the world can claim equal validity, one needs to attach (on the basis of some criteria) probability values to each. If one chooses as these criteria sensory (experimental) evidence, rational consistency, and collective critical consensus, the validity of the modern scientific world view turns out to outweigh practically any other. It is in the probability weight one attaches to the different interpretations that one reveals the epistemic trustworthiness and sophistication of proclaimed truths.
(b) Value relativism: Different cultures, over the ages, have evolved different value systems. Even if we grant that they are all deserve equal respect and recognition, one may still choose one over the others. Ex. Gender equality vs male superiority; democracy vs tyrannical monarchy; laws based on Holy Books vs laws promulgated by elected officials; human rights vs slavery, etc. It is in the choice one makes that the relative merits of value systems are revealed.
In other words, even if it is declared that all things that people say are equal, some are more equal than others, at least to the well-informed and the enlightened.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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