Cognitive dimensions of politics: relativism and rationalism

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    English: This article investigates whether there are necessarily links between relativist and rationalist thinking and the nature of the politics that ensues from these epistemologies. Claims that posit such linkages have permeated political theory as well as the philosophy of science for many decades. The arguments in earlier as well as more recent discourses to this end are appraised here, with no necessary causal link being found between the claims of these discourses and the conventional world of politics. Political theory and metatheory are not substitutes for the thought that informs political action, and hence the nature of politics. The analysis suggests that the two epistemologies can co-exist, irrespective of whether politics is democratic or autocratic in nature. To the extent that epistemologies inform political thought, their nature does not predetermine the nature of the politics that they inform; the latter is rather a function of substantive claims contained in the epistemologies themselves, of the complex and dynamic interaction between these claims, and of a multitude of other factors.