Critical Study: Realism, Meaning & Truth by Crispin Wright
Skorupski (John)
Source: Philosophical Quarterly (1950-), Vol. 38, No. 153 (Oct., 1988), pp. 500-525
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction1

  1. The essays collected here are dedicated to Michael Dummett; they represent, together with Dummett's own collection, "Dummett (Michael) - Truth and Other Enigmas", the most powerful available statement of the anti-realist challenge.
  2. Crispin Wright explains in his preface that this collection will be followed by a second, dealing with questions about rule-following and meaning, and with the demarcation between genuinely factual and 'projective' discourse. That being so, a considered assessment of his anti-realist programme may seem premature. However this volume discusses the central questions concerning anti-realism. Wright analyses the arguments for it, he considers its relation to classical logic, and he has much to say on the critical issue, for the anti-realist, of the defeasibility of empirical statements. The topics hang together, and there is point in taking them on their own and reviewing Wright's overall approach to them.
  3. Two themes stand out in Wright's thinking as in Dummett's.
    1. The first is that understanding is given by grasp of assertion conditions.
    2. The second is that epistemological constraints must be placed on truth.
    The second is a perennial theme in philosophy - the first is one of this century's authentically novel contributions to its stock of methods and ideas. But what, if any, is the connexion between them?
  4. I shall argue that neither Dummett nor Wright has analysed it with sufficient clarity; and that both allow the second theme to take on a quite unjustified luxuriance which overshadows the true nature of the first. At the heart of these issues is Wittgenstein's dictum that meaning is use. It underlies the conclusion that understanding is, in the last analysis, grasp of assertion conditions but it is also closely connected with the dictum that philosophy leaves everything as it is. Wright is more sensitive than Dummett to the connexion between the two ideas, and consequently sceptical about Dummett's revisionist tendencies in logic. But like Dummett he epistemologises about truth - and that, I shall argue, bars his attempts to escape from Dummett's revisionism.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

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