Partial Structures and the Logic of Azande
In Science and Partial Truth (da Costa and French 2003) it was argued that inconsistencies in scientific reasoning may be accommodated by the combination of partial structures and quasi-truth, together with a notion of ‘representational belief’. In this paper I shall examine whether this framework can be extended to the reasonings and beliefs of other cultures, focusing in particular on the witchcraft beliefs of Azande. I shall argue that these beliefs are akin to the theoretical beliefs of Western science but that the most appropriate way of representing the latter — and hence also the former — is via the framework of partial structures and quasi-truth. In this way I hope to steer a plausible path between ‘imperialist’ and ‘relativist’ approaches.
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