The Challenge Of Anti-Realism
Loux (Michael)
Source: Loux - Metaphysics - A Contemporary Introduction, Second Edition, 2002, Chapter 7
Paper - Abstract

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  1. According to a traditional view, there is a mind-independent world about which we form beliefs and make statements; those beliefs/statements are true just in case they correspond to the world they are about; and the correspondence that is truth is a property that can transcend our ability to determine whether or not it obtains. The traditional view can be called Realism (with a capital ‘R’).
  2. Opposed to Realism is the view that what we call "the world," what we called "reality," is constituted in part by our conceptual activities or the conceptual tools we employ in our inquiry. Nowadays this view is called anti-Realism. Anti-Realism is originally the product of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century critiques of Realism. In the context of recent Anglo-American philosophy, anti-Realist critiques of Realism focus on semantical issues.
  3. Thus, Michael Dummett argues that the semantical theory underlying Realism fails to provide an adequate account of the meaning of undecidable statements (statements whose truth value is in principle impossible for us to determine), and Dummett takes this failure to suggest the need for anti-Realist theories of meaning and truth.
  4. In a similar fashion, Hilary Putnam extends Quine's arguments for the inscrutability of reference to show that the word-world relations presupposed by a Realist theory of truth do not obtain; and Putnam, like Dummett, goes on to give an account of truth that is anti-Realist.
  5. The central question for these anti-Realists is whether their own accounts of meaning and truth are any more successful than the Realist's account at avoiding the problems they claim to uncover.

  1. Two views about the nature of reality
  2. Dummett's anti-Realist
  3. The inscrutability of reference
  4. Putnam's anti-Realism
  5. Realism or anti-Realism?


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