Justification, realism and the past

Mind 114 (455):639-670 (2005)
This paper begins by considering Dummett's justificationist treatment of statements about the past in his book Truth and the Past (2004). Contrary to Dummett's position, there is no way of applying the intuitionistic distinction in the arithmetical case between direct and indirect methods of establishing a content to the case of past-tense statements. Attempts to do so either give the wrong truth conditions, or rely on notions not available to a justificationist position. A better, realistic treatment makes ineliminable use of identity of state in its positive account of understanding of the past tense; this account can also be applied to other subject matters besides the past. A theory is developed of how realists should conceive of the relation between meaning and evidence. Points from this discussion are used in criticism of Wright's minimalist conception of truth. Three grades of possible involvement of truth and reference in a substantive theory of intentional content are distinguished, and reasons are given for thinking that a range of contents involve the highest degree of involvement of reference and truth in their substantive individuation.
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