Truth, Reference, and Realism: Putnam's Challenge

The question of truth is perhaps a perennial question of philosophy. Is truth “merely” epistemological, a function of contingent human practices and conventions, or should we adopt a stonger, metaphysical conception of truth along realist lines, understood as correspondence with objectively existing reality? In this paper I examine a famous debate in the analytic philosophy of language that hinges on the status of truth – specifically, the challenge to traditional or metaphysical realism posed by Hilary Putnam’s model-theoretic argument and the “paradox” that David Lewis derived from it. In the end, I will argue that metaphysical realism is a theoretically excessive position with regards to truth, and that a pragmatic or epistemological understanding of realism is, in Putnam’s words, “all the realism we want or need.”
Keywords Putnam  Lewis  Reference  Realism  Truth  Elgin  Model-Theoretic Argument  Putnam's Paradox  Semantic
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