Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Harvey Siegel

Second Committee Member

Risto Hilpinen

Third Committee Member

Otavio Bueno

Fourth Committee Member

Keith Lehrer


In this dissertation, I examine the work of several recent relativists with regard to the matters of disagreement and assertion. While I focus on the work of contemporary relativists such as Steven Hales, Max Kölbel, and John MacFarlane, I think the conclusions I reach are largely generalizable to any relativistic thesis that allows the possibility that both parties to a dispute are correct or justified in holding contradictory beliefs or in making contradictory assertions. I aim to show that relativism undermines our straightforward sense of disagreement, and further, that the view cannot plausibly be reconciled with various norms of assertion in a way that allows us to explain how we can sensibly argue over matters whose truth is thought to be relative. Due to these problems, the relativist’s solution is ultimately no more satisfying than the sort of contextualist views that many relativists argue against.


relativism; disagreement; assertion; contextualism; taste predicates