True for me true for you

Often, people who have succumbed to the myth that 'the truth is always relative' respond to a disagreement about the facts by saying something like, 'Well, that may be true for you, but it's not true for me.' In doing so, they use a common ploy to avoid proper engagement with the argument. Unless the matter under discussion is one that is actually implicitly speaker-relative, as it is in the ice cream example, this is not a legitimate move to make within an attempt to persuade rationally. It is a refusal to argue any further.3 A similar refusal to engage in debate occurs when someone responds to others' claims by saying, 'that's just your opinion' as though expressing one's mere opinion is not an attempt to make a true claim about a matter but, rather, tantamount to expressing a preference

3 When you think about it, it is very hard to see exactly what this claim amounts to. It seems to say that truth is relative to persons; yet it is odd that the only way that this can be the case is for that statement itself to be true in just the way that the statement itself denies - thus it seems that relativism about truth may be contradictory.

for chocolate rather than vanilla ice cream. But when we express our opinion on a matter - the best way of reducing crime rates, say - we are expressing our beliefs about the truth of a matter. It is really a kind of self-deception not to face up to this: that when we express our opinion, we are making a claim to truth. So criticising someone's contribution to a conversation by saying, 'that's just a matter of opinion' is another attempt to hinder rational persuasion or debate, and unjustifiably denies that there is any such thing as disagreement.

The 'true-for-me' phraseology, however, is not just a device for evading arguments. It is a characteristic way of expressing the relativity-myth. Thus we shall try to dispel the myth by considering it in more detail. Consider again the sentence

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