Human ecology
Mathematics education
Psychology of learning mathematics

Absolutism & Relativism

"Absolutism: Mathematics is right or wrong, certain, exact and is made up of facts, skills and fixed methods which are either correctly known or not.
Relativism: The variety of mathematical sturctures, form and contexts allow different sorts of analyses, comparisons, evaluations and approaches. This perspective incorporates a process view of mathematics and admits multiple problem-solving approaches." (Carré & Ernest, 1993, p.49)

These positions relate to the Dualist / Non-dualist distinction in Ernest (2000). How do these two distinctions relate to the convergence / divergence distinction in Hudson (1966) and in Orton (1992)?

Absolutism:
In Ernestís criticism of absolutism, he defines this view as being one in which "mathematical truth is absolutely valid and thus infallible, and that mathematics (with logic) is the one and perhaps the only realm of incorrigible, indubitable, and objective knowledge" (1998, p.9)

Relativism:
"[C]ultural relativism implies that we must accept even violence, and such patriarchal and exploitative institutions and customs as dowry, female genital mutilation, Indiaís caste system and so on, because they are the cultural expressions and creations of particular people. For cultural relativists, traditions... are always considered as particular and beyond criticism." (Mies & Shiva, 1993, p.11)


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Created 19/1/00
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