|Abstract||According to metaphysical realism, the existence or at least the nature of things, “reality,” is independent of our cognition of them, whether in perception, conception, or description. Metaphysical nonrealism denies this. It comes in many varieties, as different as Berkeley’s subjective idealism and Kant’s transcendental idealism in the eighteenth century, Hegel’s objective idealism in the nineteenth century, and in contemporary philosophy what Michael Dummett and Hilary Putnam call antirealism and Nelson Goodman calls irrealism. Berkeley held that the existence of the things we perceive is dependent on our perception of them, Kant that their nature is dependent on our understanding, on our concepts, and Wittgenstein and Heidegger that it is dependent on our language. Metaphysical realism is the bedrock of everyday and scientific thinking, but nonrealism has dominated modern philosophy, in one form or another, at least since Berkeley and Kant. The reasons for accepting it, however, have seldom been stated in detail and usually have consisted in rhetorical generalities such as “Nothing can be conceived that cannot be perceived” or “Thought without language is impossible,” which are not plausible. But a specific and not implausible reason is provided by logical nonrealism.|
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