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RELATIVISM, COMMENSURABILITY AND TRANSLATABILITY

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Abstract

This paper discusses conceptual relativism. The main focus is on the contrasting ideas of Wittgenstein and Davidson, with Quine, Kuhn, Feyerabend and Hacker in supporting roles. I distinguish conceptual from alethic and ontological relativism, defend a distinction between conceptual scheme and empirical content, and reject the Davidsonian argument against the possibility of alternative conceptual schemes: there can be conceptual diversity without failure of translation, and failure of translation is not necessarily incompatible with recognizing a practice as linguistic. Conceptual relativism may be untenable, but not for the hermeneutic reasons espoused by Davidson.

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