Relativity, Realism and Consensus

John Skorupskia1

a1 University of Sheffield

1. Relativism has always seemed in some way to flow from, and yet in some way to undermine, a naturalistic attitude towards mind and society. That is true whether one goes back to the modern roots of relativism, in the historical and anthropological perspectives which began to flourish in the eighteenth century; or even further back, to the rather similar development from prehypenSocratic anthropological speculation to the Sophistic discussions which took place in fifthhypencentury Athens. Neither implication—from a purely naturalistic conception to relativism, or from relativism to the rejection of a purely naturalistic conception—is indisputable. I shall argue that neither holds. But each of them can be made to look quite plausible—and in fact both of them simultaneously; amounting in that case to an apparent reductio of naturalism.