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Essays on Values and Practical Rationality

Ethical and Aesthetical Dimensions

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Edited By António Marques and João Sàágua

The essays presented here are the outcome of research carried out by members of IFILNOVA (Institute for Philosophy of New University of Lisbon) in 2016.

The IFILNOVA Permanent Seminar seeks to show how values are relevant to humans (both socially and individually). This seminar is the ‘place’ where different research will converge towards a unified viewpoint. This includes the discussion of the following questions: What is the philosophical contribution to current affairs and decisions that depend crucially on values? Can philosophy make a difference, namely by bringing practical reason to bear on these affairs and decision? And how to do it? Which are our scientific ‘allies’ in this enterprise; psychology, communication sciences, even sociology and history?

This volume shows the connection between practical rationality and values and covers the dimensions ethics, aesthetics and politics.

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Moral Relativism and Perspectival Values (Pietro Gori / Paolo Stellino)

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Moral Relativism and Perspectival Values

PIETRO GORI AND PAOLO STELLINO

Although the term ‘relativism’ entered the philosophical vocabulary as a terminus technicus only in the nineteenth century,1 the philosophical position known as relativism can be traced back to Ancient Greek philosophy. As is known, the fundamental proposition of Protagoras of Abdera was that ‘man is the measure of all things: of the things which are, that they are, and of the things which are not, that they are not.’ (Plato, Theaetetus: 152a) Socrates’ refusal of Protagoras’ proposition in the Theaetetus has led and still leads many philosophers to think that relativism is self-refuting:

[Protagoras’ doctrine] has this most exquisite feature: Protagoras admits, I presume, that the contrary opinion about his own opinion (namely, that it is false) must be true, seeing he agrees that all men judge what is … And in conceding the truth of the opinion of those who think him wrong, he is really admitting the falsity of his own opinion? … But for their part the others do not admit that they are wrong? … But Protagoras again admits this judgement to be true, according to his written doctrine? … It will be disputed, then, by everyone, beginning with Protagoras – or rather, it will be admitted by him, when he grants to the person who contradicts him that he judges truly – when he does that, even Protagoras himself will be granting that neither a dog nor the ‘man in...

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