Ian C. Jarvie is widely known for his contribution to the “rationality debate” in philosophy of the social sciences. In this chapter, I shall critically examine his view of rationality and rebuttal of cultural relativism. First, I shall discuss his view of rationality while paying attention to its relation to Karl Popper’s critical rationalism. Second, I shall scrutinize Jarvie’s criticism of cultural relativism, after his debate with Peter Winch. Jarvie proposes a middle way to avoid ethnocentrism and cultural relativism by examining Melville Herskovits’s cultural relativism and its relation to the American Anthropological Association’s “Statement on Human Rights.” Third, I shall examine Jarvie’s social and institutional view of rationality by discussing his ideas of weak absolutism, workshop rationality, and social institution.
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