Paul Boghossian is a professor at the University of New York and is credited for his numerous works in philosophy. Most of his work disapproves of epistemic relativism and social constructivism. With this insight he wrote a book titled, Fear of Knowledge in which he criticizes in details the theories of relativism and constructivism. He has given in detail reasons for and against the theories of constructivism and relativism. In this book, he challenges the modern forms of academic thinking. He has received recognition and rewarded for his numerous works especially his book Fear of Knowledge.
In chapter one of the book Fear of Knowledge, Boghossian begins by writing about equal validity. In this principle, Boghossian claims that there are many ways one can be able to understand the world. He details one of these things as science. This alone contradicts fact objectivity with the idea that the world does not depend on peoples’ believes and opinions. He says that a person can be able to understand the beliefs about the world by simply knowing the appropriate evidence that is available in spite of their culture and social perspectives. It is normal for people to defer in various areas of their life but we all have valid ways of forming coherent opinions. Boghossian goes ahead to state that facts exists despite how people at different cultures and social standings may choose to come up with them. This is illustrated in the fact that a person’s facts on football are very different from the head coach who in turn is different from a medical doctors’ point of view. This however, means that all these peoples’ opinions are worth and they are important to them.
In chapter 2, Boghossian goes ahead to explain about objectivism of facts. This principle explains that one piece of information cannot be used to justify a certain believe, because they are very independent opinions towards each other. He argues that all information is independent on its own and that the environment that one currently exists determines how they view the world.
Boghossian disagrees with constructivists idea that any body would have died because of tuberculosis had Koch not discovered bacillus in 1882. He states that knowledge does not depend on any description and there is no way one can describe the world to be the way it is. He also examines the principle of fact-constructivist that Rorty, Nelson Goodman and Hilary Putman came up with. It states that people create facts from the way their speaking or thinking describes that particular fact.
Boghossian goes further to question the theories of constructivism. He questions how our descriptions affect the existence of thing for example the mountains. He also questions why the being of things like electrons depend on descriptions while the idea of electrons state that their existence is independent of us. He insists that other theories contradict each other. He argues that it is not possible for some theories to state that the world is flat while others state it is round. They also contradict the fact that money is required for certain facts to be achieved. He argues that money cannot be in existence without human beings and therefore it is wrong to depend on it. In this way, Boghossian is able to derive the fact that description of facts is unnecessary.
In this book, Rorty, states that the world is like a “language game.” This means that nothing in the world can be said to be true but only takes the form which one talks about. In this way, there exist many “Language games” and they all cannot be said to be good. This means things are not the way they appear. He explains that knowledge is constructed from a social context and nothing can be known for sure. In chapter five and seven, Boghossian talks about constructivism and justification as discussed by Rorty. He disagrees with Rorty’s claim that diverse communities can be able to function on diverse epistemic systems and that there is no way to know that any one of these systems is better. He supports that diverse epistemic systems are not genuinely different systems and that they are a mistake from the scientists.
The constructivists however, have their principle of constructivism about facts. The constructivists’ state that the world and all the things we are aware of are dependent on human beings. This means that facts are created in a social context in such a way that they reflect individuals’ basic needs and well-being. Constructivists also have the theory of Constructivism about Rational Explanation. The theory states that it cannot be possible to explain why people believe in whatever they believe in just by being around a certain environment. This is because the basic needs and well-being of an individual must be put in to consideration.
The social relativists argue that the procedure that a person uses to describe the world will mostly depend on the method one finds easier to adopt. They also state that the procedure to describe the world also depends on our needs and well-being. Relativists have their ideology that facts are important in the modern academic atmosphere. In the modern human social and cultural environment, this kind of thinking has achieved great acceptance. Relativism is a theoretical belief that all people’s opinions are evenly valid and that the truth depends on the individual. This means that the truth is different for different individuals, that is, individuals trust in different things to be true. This in general means that all cultural practices, political conclusions and religious beliefs are true depending with an individual.
The constructivists believe that facts are established by way of sense or through communication and that they build up with time as one understands things. Epistemology, on the other hand describes that knowledge of facts is perceived from the environment through learning. This means that one views the world as the information is projected in the brain and thus this defines the facts about the world. This theory does not pay attention to the fact that the world is complex and not just a small part of it.
In my view, I do not think that Paul Boghossian is right about the fact that people cannot construct facts about the issues affecting society today. I believe that scientific ideas play a great role in shaping our society and cultural practices in general. Theories are there to be disputed and re examined from time to time depending on the facts at hand but this does not mean that they are entirely wrong. Scientists come up with many theories that contain concrete facts and as such, I believe the constructivists will say that their work is theoretical but maintains many facts.
In a situation where for example a mountain is discovered, I feel it is wrong for Boghossian to insinuate that one has created it in the mind. It is a discovery that has facts and Boghossian should not universally claim that humans create facts. Many different facts and theories may differ i.e. historical theories may differ from physical facts. There are many other theories and Boghossian should not sum up all the issues in a collective manner that they are real or not. In my case, I would be interested in learning many facts in various fields and then compare them before coming to a (Boghossian 1-50)
I think Paul’s arguments go wrong in the fact that he is convinced that there are no facts that people can derive in life. I feel that he has put all the facts in a universal way and made his conclusions without learning each case at a time. Many factual theories have been derived while others are just theories but it is important to note that they are continuously being revised to suit the situation. In his argument that people describe the world in ways they find easier to implement, is very shallow because the world is complex such that it can not be grasped in a in a short while. (Boghossian)
Paul Boghossian’s ideas are both in support and against epistemic relativism and social constructivism. However, most of his work critiques these relativists and social constructivists’ ideas as being inconclusive. He gives a broad explanation on the shortcomings of these theories giving his readers a wide material to cover. He presented his ideas on modern academic as well as thoughts about facts in life. He has a strong character but leaves his readers with satisfaction and glued to his work. However, his work also raised a lot of question on whether life can compose such description of facts. Questions also have been raised on whether such ways of thinking can be really implemented in the society today and how they would be accepted.
Boghossian, A. Paul. Fear of knowledge: against relativism and constructivism, 1-50. (Ed.). Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.