Anti-realist aporias

Mind 109 (436):825--854 (2000)
Using a quantified propositional logic involving the operators it is known that and it is possible to know that, we formalize various interesting philosophical claims involved in the realism debate. We set out inferential rules for the epistemic modalities, ranging from ones that are obviously analytic, to ones that are epistemologically more substantive or even controversial. Then we investigate various aporias for the realism debate. These are constructively inconsistent triads of claims from our list: a claim expressing some sort of common ground in the debate; a characteristically anti-realist thesis about truth and knowability; and a characteristically realist thesis about determinacy of truth value. Various patterns of reductio proof for these inconsistent triads are generated, so as to display their variety. The reductio proofs use only the inferential rules set out earlier. The philosophical utility of each aporia for the anti-realist is then assessed. This involves consideration of the acceptability of the premiss expressing common ground; the strength and plausibility of the anti-realist premiss; the strength of the realist premiss that is the ultimate target of the reductio; and the analytic status of the inferential rules applied within the proof.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/109.436.825
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