‘Transcendental Reflections on Pragmatic Realism’.

In K. R. Westphal (ed.), Pragmatism, Reason, & Norms: A Realistic Assessment. Fordham UP. pp. 17--58 (1998)
By deepening Austin’s reflections on the ‘open texture’ of empirical concepts, Frederick L. Will defends an ‘externalist’ account of mental content: as human beings we could not think, were we not in fact cognizant of a natural world structured by events and objects with identifiable and repeatable similarities and differences. I explicate and defend Will’s insight by developing a parallel critique of Kant’s and Carnap’s rejections of realism, both of whom cannot account properly for the content of experience. This critique shows that Will has identified a genuinely transcendental basis for defending common-sense realism, without appeal to any high-level theory of knowledge. I then show how Will’s realism undercuts Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism, Michael Williams’ partial defense of skepticism, John Haldane’s attempt to rehabilitate Aquinas’ account of concepts, and how it augments Crispin Wright’s defense of realism.
Keywords pragmatic realism  open texture  mental content externalism  quasi-realism  cognitive command  Carnap  internal and external questions  Crispin Wright  Michael Williams
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