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Ophelia Benson and "Epistemic Relativism"

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The Self-appraisalEdit

Ophelia1

http://freethinker.co.uk

The self descriptive spiel on Benson's pre-FFTB blog, bearing the slogan fighting fashionable nonsense offers the following in the about section -
Butterflies and Wheels was established in 2002 and has (not surprisingly) evolved since then. At the beginning it focused mainly on various kinds of pseudoscience and epistemic relativism, aka postmodernism.

By relating pseudoscience and epistemic relativism in the same sentence, one is led to the assumption that Benson has a distaste for both and purports to argue against the fallacious nature of both.

Accepted Definitions of "Epistemic Relativism"Edit

Wikipedia: Factual relativism or epistemic relativism is a mode of reasoning which extends relativism and subjectivism to factual matter and reason. In factual relativism the facts used to establish the truth or falsehood of any statement are understood to be relative to the perspective of those proving or falsifying the proposition.”

Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy: “The thesis that what may be a proper claim to know something when made by one group or culture may be otherwise when made by a different group or culture. In some cases this is harmless and banal (people who have looked and seen may know things that people who have not do not know). In other cases it can be highly contentious, as when there are claims made for specific cultural, religious, or female ways of knowing things, unavailable to outsiders.”

"Epistemic Relativism" Ophelia Benson StyleEdit

Perhaps the best example of Benson's absolute intellectual incoherence as regard to epistemic relativism can be found in the following FFTB entry -

A man generally cannot know

Another example where epistemic relativism ceases being a skewed point of view and becomes full blown irrationality can be found in the following FFTB entry -

Brevity is the soul of wit
Oh how cute – one of the “I really really hate Rebecca Watson” crowd has made a fake Twitter account in order to do a lot of stupid self-implicating tweets as if by Rebecca. Oh haha that’s so funny – what’s next, emptying a pail of garbage in her bed? Locking a skunk in her bathroom? Putting a bomb under her car?

Benson displays that on the subject of Rebecca Watson, she has one, and only one, myopic perspective on any issue and instantly not only blames Watson's critics, but makes the leap of equating them to car bombers.

The incident that provoked Benson's ire was in fact unrelated. At that point in time, a rudimentary 10 second google search would have yielded the results that the fake Twitter account was not created by Watson critics, but was yet another instance of fly-by-night anonymous vandalism/trolling by unknown perpetrators who had in fact simultaneously launched multiple attacks at multiple targets, including one on one of Watson's earliest critics Adrienne Myers (unrelated to PZ Myers). This, was of course, irrelevant to Benson - to her epistemically relativist mind there could be one, and only one, possible conclusion to draw.

These items are just the tip of the iceberg. It is an interesting exercise to browse through her blogs and try and find items that are not skewed by her personal ideological perspective. Benson in fact epitomises the entire FFTB ethos - any "evidence" that confirms biases is irrefutable evidence and the only evidence ever required. Anything that contradicts these biases is automatically false.

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