Simon Blackburn 2

More Blackburn on truth. (Maybe in a few months I’ll give you a passage or two from Stangroom and Benson on truth. That will be fun for you!)

He points out that it is important to distinguish between relativism and toleration.

In the intellectual world, toleration is the disposition to fight opinion only with opinion; in other words, to protect freedom of speech, and to confront divergence of opinion with open critical reflection rather than suppression or force…Relativism, by contrast, chips away at our right to disapprove of what anybody says. Its central message is that there are no asymmetries of reason and knowledge, objectivity and truth…It is not only that we must try to understand them, but also that we must accept a complete symmetry of standing.

So, we have a Western view of the universe, they have theirs, we have Western science, they have theirs, and so on.

And then, once the symmetry of standing takes possession of the relativist, other things may come to fill his head, and they need not involve toleration at all. The dogmatic faith in homeopathy quickly leads to intolerant rejection of double-blind tests for the efficacy of treatments, or intolerant campaigns for the diversion of funds from medicine that works to medicine that does not…The faith that wisdom and the recipe for living are written in one text or another rapidly brings cries of death to the infidel.

Eloquent, isn’t he.

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