Relativism and the Metaphysics of Value

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I argue that relativists about aesthetic and other evaluative language face some of the same objections as non-naturalists in ethics. These objections concern the metaphysics required to make it work. Unlike (some) contextualists, relativists believe that evaluative propositions are not about the relation in which things stand to certain standards. Nevertheless, the truth of such propositions would depend on variable standards. I argue that relativism requires the existence of states of affairs very different from other things known to exist. Furthermore, there seems to be no convincing reason to postulate such entities. However, if they do not exist, then relativism leads to an error theory. That is unattractive, as relativism was meant to preserve the truth of many evaluative claims.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-87
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Aesthetics
Issue number1
Early online date23-Jun-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • evaluative language, relativism, non-naturalism, error theory

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