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Scandalous KnowledgeScience, Truth and the Human$
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Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748620234

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620234.001.0001

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Cutting-edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-epistemology

Cutting-edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-epistemology

Chapter:
(p.85) Chapter 4 Cutting-edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-epistemology
Source:
Scandalous Knowledge
Author(s):

Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620234.003.0004

The fourth chapter examines the rise of conceptually and rhetorically equivocating positions among some academic philosophers (e.g., Brian Cantwell Smith and Andy Clark) and other theorists (e.g., feminist epistemologists such as Lorraine Code and Donna Haraway) who are explicitly sympathetic to constructivist epistemological developments but unwilling to relinquish key aspects of traditional (realist, rationalist or objectivist) understandings of truth and knowledge and/or anxious to avoid charges of relativism. A major problem with the resulting hybrid formulations, which seek to “steer a course,” as they often claim, “between Scylla and Charybdis,” is that, composed as they are of essentially incompatible elements, they can do little theoretical work. While the personal-intellectual and professional-institutional pressures leading to such dubious navigations are substantial (and described here in some detail), so also, it is argued, are their ultimate institutional risks and broader intellectual costs.

Keywords:   truth, knowledge, epistemology, equivocation, constructivism, realism, relativism, feminist epistemology

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