Poster The Problem Of Relativism

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

Internationale Konferenz an der Universität Siegen (22.-23. März 2011)

The conference volume by Richard Schantz and Markus Seidel has been published in December 2011. It is available here as free e-book!

See also the reviews of the volume by João Arriscado Nunes in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews and of Tamas Demeter in Metascience.

Newspaper article in "Siegener Zeitung"

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.


  • 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) - "Knowledge, Practice, and the Problem of Relativism – Reconsidering Michael Polanyi’s 'Personal Knowledge'"
  • 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" 
  • Students of the University of Siegen - "Theory-Ladenness and Relativism"