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Contrast: relativism


Universality is opposed to relativism in philosophy. Truth may be said to be universal, as well as rights, for example in natural rights or in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, heavily influenced by the philosophy of the Enlightenment and its conception of a human nature. A proposition is said to have universality if it can be conceived as being true in all possible contexts without creating a contradiction. Some philosophers have referred to such propositions as universalizable. Truth is considered to be universal if it is valid in all times and places. In this case, it is seen as eternal or as absolute. The relativist conception denies the existence of universal truths - although they are, of course, grades of relativism: most relativists deny the existence of universal moral values, which make them moral relativists, but few deny the existence of universal truths when mathematics are concerned. In other words, since truth has various domains of application, relativism does not necessarily apply to all of them. A classic argument against extreme forms of relativism rely on the relativist fallacy: claiming that "all truths are relative" is, in itself, a universal proposition, since it asserts something about a totality. Thus, this extreme form of relativism is seen as self refuting (however, relativists often argue that, as sceptics, they have never made such universal assertion). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_proposition [Apr 2006]

Universal (etymology)

universal - c.1380, from O.Fr. universel, from L. universalis "of or belonging to all," from universus "all together, whole, entire" (see universe). In mechanics, a universal joint (1676) is one which allows free movement in any direction; in theology universalism (1805) is the doctrine of universal salvation. -- http://www.etymonline.com/-- Douglas Harper [Jun 2004]

Universe (etymology)

universe - 1589, "the whole world, cosmos," from L. universum "the universe," noun use of neut. of universus "all together," lit. "turned into one," from unus "one" + versus, pp. of vertere "to turn." -- http://www.etymonline.com/-- Douglas Harper [Jun 2004]

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