Abundant truth in an austere world

In Patrick Greenough & Michael P. Lynch (eds.), Truth and Realism. Oxford University Press. pp. 137--167 (2006)

Matjaz Potrc
University of Ljubljana
Terry Horgan
University of Arizona
What is real? Less than you might think. We advocate austere metaphysical realism---a form of metaphysical realism claiming that a correct ontological theory will repudiate numerous putative entities and properties that are posited in everyday thought and discourse, and also will even repudiate numerous putative objects and properties that are posited by well confirmed scientific theories. We have lately defended a specific version of austere metaphysical realism which asserts that there is really only one concrete particular, viz., the entire cosmos (see Horgan and Potr (2000, 2002), Potr (2003)). But there are various potential versions of the generic position we are here calling austere metaphysical realism; and it is the generic view that constitutes the ontological part of the overall approach to realism and truth that we will describe here. What is true? More than you might think, given our austere metaphysical realism. We maintain that truth is semantically correct affirmability, under contextually operative semantic standards. We also maintain that most of the time, the contextually operative semantic standards work in such a way that semantic correctness (i.e., truth) is a matter of indirect correspondence rather than direct correspondence between thought or language on the one hand, and the world on the other.1 When correspondence is indirect rather than direct, a given statement (or thought) can be true even if the correct ontology does not include items answering to all the referential commitments (as we will here call them) of the statement. 2 This means that even if a putative object is repudiated by a correct ontological theory, ordinary statements that are putatively about that object may still be true. For instance, the statement “The University of St. Andrews is in Scotland” can be semantically correct (i.e., true) even if the right ontology does not include any entity answering to the referring term ‘The University of St. Andrews’, or any entity...
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