Rationality and Relativism

Rationality and Relativism

Edited by Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes





Are there absolute truths that can be gradually approached over time through rational processes? Or are all modes and systems of thought equally valid if viewed from within their own internally consistent frames of reference? Are there universal forms of reasoning and understanding that enable us to distinguish between rational beliefs and those that are demonstrably false, or is everything relative?

These central questions are addressed and debated by the distinguished contributors to this lively book. Some of them—Hollis, Lukes, Robin Horton, and Ernest Gellner—discuss new directions in their thinking since their earlier articles appeared in 1970 in the seminal volume Rationality (edited by Bryan Wilson). They are now joined in the debate by Ian Hacking, W. Newton-Smith, Charles Taylor, Jon Elster, Dan Sperber, and, in the jointly authored lead article, by Barry Barnes and David Bloor.

Emerging from the debate are a variety of supportable interpretations and conclusions rather than a single, distinct "truth." The contributors represent the complete spectrum of positions between a relativism that challenges the very concept of a single world and the idea that there are ascertainable, objective universals.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262081306 324 pp. | 5.5 in x 8.5 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262580618 324 pp. | 5.5 in x 8.5 in


Martin Hollis

Steven Lukes


  • Run, don't walk to get this book. It's really good. Some really interesting new things are introduced. It's a real heavy-weight line-up...broad range of perspectives.

    Tom McCarthy

    Department of Philosophy, Boston University

  • All the papers are thoughtful, insightful, and stimulating.

    Allan Gibbard

    Philosophy Department, University of Michigan