The Reality of the Past
Dummett (Michael)
Source: Dummett - Truth and Other Enigmas
Paper - Abstract

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Final Paragraph

    The dispute, as we have thus far pursued it, has not led to victory for either side. The anti-realist presented an argument to show that we could not derive, from our training in the use of the past tense, that conception of truth as applied to statements about the past which the realist professes to understand. The realist appealed to our grasp of the truth-value link as providing the means whereby we acquired that conception of truth. The anti-realist's reply to this showed that the realist's argument need not be taken as compelling: but it did not prove it definitely wrong. The realist then countered by claiming that the anti- realist could not consistently acknowledge the existence of the truth-value link. The anti-realist's reply showed, once more, that his position is not in blatant contradiction with it, and that therefore an anti-realist view of statements about the past is at least not to be dismissed out of hand. To show that has been the principal object of this paper. Of course, like every- one else, I feel a strong undertow towards the realist view: but, then, there are certain errors of thought to which the human mind seems naturally prone.


Originally, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 69, (1968 - 1969), pp. 239-258

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