Language, truth and meaning: A defence of modernism

Hugh V. McLachlan (Reader in the School of Law and Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 1 December 2005


Relativism, at least in some of its forms, is antithetical to sociology as traditionally practiced and conceived. (See, for instance, Benton and Crabb, 2001, pp.50‐74 and 93‐1006; Collins 1996a; Mann, 1998; Murphy, 1997; and Taylor‐Gooby, 1994). Hence, sociologists should consider abandoning traditional sociology or rejecting relativism. An example of the sort of relativism I have in mind is the philosophical theory that the truth and falsity of propositions is relative to the social context of their promulgation. Such epistemological relativism is expressed by Newton‐Smith when he says: “The central relativist idea is that what is true for one tribe, social group or age might not be true for an other tribe, social group or age” (Newton‐Smith, 1982, p.107).



McLachlan, H. (2005), "Language, truth and meaning: A defence of modernism", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 25 No. 12, pp. 92-113.

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