Review Of "The Metaphysics And Ethics Of Relativism" By C. Rovane

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Rovane (Columbia Univ.) breaks new ground in an otherwise-tired debate between "relativists," "objectivists," and "absolutists." One of the book's signal achievements lies in clarifying the nature of relativism, whether in its metaphysical or ethical guise. People (especially, but not only) from different cultures inhabit different "worlds." The author calls this "multimundialism," and it leads to one of her principal substantive theses: a person/people can reject the beliefs of another/others without claiming that the rejected beliefs are false. Ethics, thus, is more than a matter of taste and sentiment. Furthermore, people occupying different "worlds" can rightly reject others' claims and stay committed to their own without judging those of others to be false. Along the way, Rovane engages with leading contemporary philosophers, including G. Harman, D. Davidson, R. Rorty, and J. Raz. This reviewer is not convinced that "multimundialism" is anything more than the view that people often hold beliefs that are difficult to assess as to their truth/soundness, even by the standards of those inhabiting a particular culture. That said, Rovane's book deserves a careful reading; it is thoughtful, thorough, substantive, clear, and challenging. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.


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