No matter who: What makes one a relativist?



Published 13-03-2021
Eduardo Pérez-Navarro


As part of her argument that relativism and contextualism are nothing but notational variants of each other, Stojanovic holds that contextualism is flexible enough to achieve whatever relativism might do if the matter is what truth-value is assigned to each pair of sentence and context. In this paper, I reply to this statement by arguing that contextualism cannot be made as flexible as relativism without in fact turning it into a version of relativism. The key to my response to Stojanovic is that, while relativism relativizes utterance truth, contextualism does not, so parameters that are not fixed at the context of utterance will be accessible for the relativist, but not for the contextualist. Although the relativity of utterance truth follows as soon as propositional truth is relativized to contexts of assessment, as the relativist does, it is easy to lose sight of this fact if we identify the context of assessment with the assessor’s context. Hence, the point of this paper is that the difference between relativism and contextualism is not one as to whose parameters play a role in determining the sentence’s truth-value. If it were, contextualism could indeed be made just as flexible as relativism.

How to Cite

Pérez-Navarro, E. (2021). No matter who: What makes one a relativist?. THEORIA, 36(2), 231–242.
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relativism, contextualism, truth, context, assessment