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Relativism and anthropology

DOI: 10.2298/gei0654389r

Keywords: relativism , cultural relativism , anthropology , philosophy , philosophy of science , science , interpretation of culture , explication of culture

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Abstract:

This paper focuses on the impact of relativism within anthropology as a discipline. Relativistic conceptions, account for in this analysis, emerged both from philosophy (philosophy of science in particular) and anthropology. These conceptions have influenced the discipline directly, through development of the concept of cultural relativism, and indirectly, through the relativists' approach to the concept of scientific research. The different sources of relativism have shaped several paradigms of culture research, most notably those which accept epistemological cultural relativism. However, normative relativism influenced the discipline more profoundly, and has been present in two separate forms: the first, being more or less consistent with the basic philosophical and anthropological relativistic theses, and the other, basically born out of the general relativistic scheme, implying and in some cases trying to conceptualize the existence of global cultural invariants or cultural universals.

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