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Defense of the Axiom of Existence by an Academic Philosopher

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I have recently finished reading Fear of Knowledge by Paul Boghossian, and I highly recommend it. It is a short book defending the claim that there is an objective reality independent of anyone's beliefs about it against relativism, primarily against the relativism of Richard Rorty.

 

The book has three main sections. In the first section, Boghossian addresses the claim that reality is socially constructed. In the second section, he addresses the claim that epistemic norms are mere constructs - that is, for example, there is no way to demonstrate the inferiority of an epistemology that is based on the infallibility of the Bible. The third section addresses the claim that all of our beliefs have non-rational psychological explanations in terms of our desires and interests apart from the evidence, which is a claim that is popular in the field of sociology of knowledge.

 

Boghossian's approach to these positions is usually to argue that they are self referentially inconsistent. He goes into some detail about how the charge of self referential inconsistency applies specifically to each form of relativism. In particular, he is careful to show that Rorty's sophisticated version of relativism is not immune to the criticisms that refute more naive versions.

 

I think Objectivists will like this book, since it is a defense of the fundamental axiom of Objectivism and it doesn't use any arguments that an Objectivist could not safely endorse.

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This book has been on my list for a while. Searle reviewed it a while back.

Thanks for mentioning this. The review is available online, but apparently it requires a subscription to read the whole thing.

 

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/sep/24/why-should-you-believe-it/

 

Here are a couple of responses to Searle's review, along with his responses in turn.

 

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/dec/17/fear-of-knowledge-an-exchange/

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