The Truth in Antirealism

Abstract
Throughout his career, Barry Taylor argued for several key theses in semantics and in epistemology. He calls these theses “Antirealism”. I will suggest, however, that a “Realist” could, and perhaps should, accept these semantic and epistemic theses. Doing so would not, I argue, conflict with the core this of philosophical Realism, properly so-called, since this thesis is not semantic or epistemological, but “ontological”. A Realist about (say) badgers is just someone who believes that there are badgers. And Taylor’s semantic and epistemological theses are not intended to entail any denial that there are (say) badgers. However, Taylor argues that the core theses of “realism” cannot be any such merely ontological theses. I will defend a simplistic, “ontological” understanding of “realism” against Taylor’s arguments. Taylor also usefully identifies something that others have called “Common-sense Realism”. But this so-called “Realism”, Taylor argues, is not properly described as any kind of “realism” at all – because it does not affirm Taylor’s key theses in semantics and epistemology. Yet I say it is realism – provided only that it does not also take a perverse stand on a realist’s “Euthyphro” question: Do (say) badgers exist because our ways of talking and knowing would ideally converge on an affirmation of the sentence “Badgers exist”? Isn’t it, rather, the case that, insofar as our ways of talking and knowing would ideally converge on an affirmation of the sentence “Badgers exist”, this is so at least in part because badgers exist?
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