Is the "bottom-up" approach from the theory of meaning to metaphysics possible?

Journal of Philosophy 93 (8):373-407 (1996)
Dummett’s The Logical Foundations of Metaphysics (LFM) outlines an ambitious project that has been at the core of his work during the last forty years. The project is built around a particular conception of the theory of meaning (or philosophy of language), according to which such a theory should constitute the corner stone of philosophy and, in particular, provide answers to various metaphysical questions. The present paper is intended as a critical evaluation of some of the main features of that approach. My negative answer to the title’s question notwithstanding, I find Dummett’s analyses, which both inform and are guided by his project, of very high value. Among the subjects to be discussed here, which relate to but are not fully reflected in the title, are the concept of a full-blooded theory (in 4.) Davidson’s program (in 5.) and holism, to which the last third of this paper (section 6.) is devoted. That section can be read independently; to some extent, this is also true of 4. and 5. taken together.
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