Kant's transcendental idealism and contemporary anti‐realism

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 11 (4):369 – 392 (2003)
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Abstract

This paper compares Kant's transcendental idealism with three main groups of contemporary anti-realism, associated with Wittgenstein, Putnam, and Dummett, respectively. The kind of anti-realism associated with Wittgenstein has it that there is no deep sense in which our concepts are answerable to reality. Associated with Putnam is the rejection of four main ideas: theory-independent reality, the idea of a uniquely true theory, a correspondence theory of truth, and bivalence. While there are superficial similarities between both views and Kant's, I find more significant differences. Dummettian anti-realism, too, clearly differs from Kant's position: Kant believes in verification-transcendent reality, and transcendental idealism is not a theory of meaning or truth. However, I argue that part of the Dummettian position is extremely useful for understanding part of Kant's position - his idealism about the appearances of things. I argue that Kant's idealism about appearances can be expressed as the rejection of experience-transcendent reality with respect to appearances.

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