The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge

Venue: Arthur-Woll-Haus, University of Siegen

Location: Siegen, Germany

Event Date/Time: Mar 22, 2011 End Date/Time: Mar 23, 2011
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Are knowledge and our epistemic norms culturally and socially relative? What would be the consequences of such a relativism for traditional topics in philosophy? Questions like these are the focus of recent discussions in epistemology and philosophy of science. Moreover, they have also been intensively discussed in the sociology of knowledge since 20th century.

The aim of the conference is to dicuss the problem of relativism in the sociology of (scientific) knowledge from historical (Mannheim, Fleck) as well as systematic perspectives. By bringing together leading philosophers and sociologists working in the field, the conference's objective is to develop a genuine interdisciplinary exchange. A special focus lies on recent discussions, for example, on Naturalism, Incommensurability, and the Strong Programme.

The conference is part of a research project on relativism in the sociology of knowledge at the University of Siegen, funded by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). It is organized in cooperation with the Center for Philosophy of Science (Zentrum für Wissenschaftstheorie) at the University of Münster that was already hosting a conference on Kuhn and Fleck in 2008.

Baghramian, M. (2004), Relativism, London/New York: Routledge.
Barnes, B. (1974), Scientific Knowledge and Sociological Theory, London/Boston: Routledge.
Barnes, B., Bloor, D. and Henry, J. (1996), Scientific Knowledge. A Sociological Analysis, London: University of Chicago Press.
Knoblauch, H. (2005), Wissenssoziologie, Konstanz: UVK.
Schantz, R. (1996), Wahrheit, Referenz und Realismus. Eine Studie zur Sprachphilosophie und Metaphysik, Berlin: de Gruyter.
Siegel, H. (1987), Relativism Refuted. A Critique of Contemporary Relativism, Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing.

Practical Information:

Date: Tuesday 22th - Wednesday 23th March 2011
Venue: University of Siegen, Arthur-Woll-Haus, Am Eichenhang, 57068 Siegen
(for directions see here)
Conference Language: English
Contact: Markus Seidel, M.A. (

Confirmed Speakers:

Maria Baghramian (Dublin) - "Contested Truths, Constructed Realities"
Barry Barnes (Exeter) - "Relativism as an Extension of the Scientific Project"
Martin Endreß (Trier) - "Methodological Relationalism"
Eva-Maria Jung (Münster) - "Theoretical and Practical Knoweldge Revisited"
Hubert Knoblauch (Berlin) - "Relativism, Meaning and Explanations in the New Sociology of Knowledge"
Richard Schantz (Siegen) - "Realism, Naturalism and Relativism"
Markus Seidel (Münster/Siegen) - "Karl Mannheim, Relativism and Knowledge in the Natural Sciences - a deviant interpretation"
Harvey Siegel (Miami) - "Is Relativism Really Incoherent? On Some Recent Arguments For and Against"
Claus Zittel (Florenz/Olsztyn) - "Thinking Styles in Action. Fleck's Concept of Style and the Problem of Relativism"


Am Eichenhang

Additional Information

Registration possible via e-mail (see the contact). There will be no conference fees.