Publication 6731

Baghramian M. (2012) Constructed world, contested truth: Thoughts on relativism and constructivism. In: Schantz R. & Seidel M. (eds.) The problem of relativism in the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt: 105–130. Fulltext at
Excerpt: The world is made up of not only natural kinds but also artefacts, stuff that we human beings, individually or communally, construct. Chairs and tables, airplanes and buildings, are our constructs; they are conceived by individuals or groups and are also built by them. But the scope of our construction is not limited to physical artefacts; the social space is also populated by our constructions. A university, to take but one example, is much more than its buildings, its very existence depends on rules, agreements, conventions, and covenants constructed and entered upon by human beings. It’s our joint intention, persisting through time that gives reality to institutions of higher education and their functioning through time. This much is platitudinous and not seriously in dispute. Major philosophical debates begin firstly when we try to draw a dividing line between natural kinds and artefacts and secondly in any attempt to adjudicate on the ontological status of our social constructs.

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