The Poverty of Relativism
by Raymond Boudon
with a foreword by Bryan S. Turner

January 2005, hardback, 224pp.
ISBN: 0-9548683-0-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-9548683-0-7


Gemas Studies in Social Analysis
Series Editors: Mohamed Cherkaoui, Peter Hamilton & Bryan S. Turner

The Poverty of Relativism is a timely and critical evaluation of a dominant trend in modern social science, evident in a range of intellectual movements from structuralism to post-modernism and social constructionism. Raymond Boudon shows how the pervasive spread of relativism in social thought threatens intellectual life by corroding the concept of objectivity, leading to a social and political nihilism in which even the knowledge generated by science itself is seen as no more than a belief system. With an incisive analysis that uses a wide range of illustrative examples from the social organisation of science to the question of what constitutes a work of art, Raymond Boudon examines the consequences of relativism across a number of issues that are key to the future of sociology and the social sciences.

Preface by Mohamed Cherkaoui & Peter Hamilton
Foreword by Bryan S. Turner
Introduction — The Social Sciences: An Intellectual Source of Western Moral Pessimism
1) The Social Sciences and the Two Types of Relativism
2) The Polytheism of Values
3) Basic Mechanisms of Moral Evolution: In the Footsteps of Durkheim and Weber
4) Explaining Axiological Feelings
5) The Objectivity of Artistic Values
6) An Archaeology of the Modern Concept of Common Sense
Bibliography; Index

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