I aim to clarify the relationship between the success of a theory and the truth of that theory. This has been a central issue in the debates between realists and anti-realists. Realists assume that success is a reliable indicator of truth, but the details about the respects in which success is a reliable indicator or test of truth have been largely left to our intuitions. Lewis (Synthese 129:371–380, 2001) provides a clear proposal of how success and truth might be connected, (...) comparing a test of success of our theories to medical tests with low rates of false positives and false negatives. But, contrary to what Lewis claims, I argue that it is not enough for the realist to undercut the claim that success is not a reliable indicator of truth. Rather, the realist must show that our current best theories are likely true. Further, I argue that tests in science are unlike medical tests in a number of important ways. (shrink)
An increasing number of moral realists and anti-realists have recently attempted to support their views by appeal to science. Arguments of this kind (such as evolutionary debunking arguments or arguments from moral disagreement) are typically criticized on the object-level. In addition, however, one occasionally also comes across a more sweeping meta-theoretical skepticism. Scientific contributions to the question of the existence of objective moral truths, it is claimed, are impossible in principle; most prominently, because (1) such arguments impermissibly derive normative from (...) descriptive propositions, (2) such arguments beg the question against non-naturalist moral realism, (3) science cannot inform conceptual accounts of moral judgements, and (4) the conceptual is logically prior to the empirical. My main aim in this paper is to clarify and critically assess these four objections. Moreover, based on this assessment, I will formulate four general requirements that science-based arguments in favor of moral realism and anti-realism should meet. It will turn out that these arguments are limited in several ways, and that some existing arguments have been unsound. Yet it is still possible in principle for the empirical sciences to contribute to the moral realism/anti-realism debate. (shrink)
This article attempts to motivate a new approach to anti-realism (or nominalism) in the philosophy of mathematics. I will explore the strongest challenges to anti-realism, based on sympathetic interpretations of our intuitions that appear to support realism. I will argue that the current anti-realistic philosophies have not yet met these challenges, and that is why they cannot convince realists. Then, I will introduce a research project for a new, truly naturalistic, and completely scientific approach to philosophy of mathematics. (...) It belongs to anti-realism, but can meet those challenges and can perhaps convince some realists, at least those who are also naturalists. (shrink)
Beginning with the paradoxes of zombie twins, we present an argument that dualism is both true and false. We show that avoiding this contradiction is impossible. Our diagnosis is that consciousness itself engenders this contradiction by producing contradictory points of view. This result has a large effect on the realism/anti-realism debate, namely, it suggests that this debate is intractable, and furthermore, it explains why this debate is intractable. We close with some comments on what our results mean for metaphysics (...) and philosophy, in general. (shrink)
In Meaning and Necessity (1947/1950), Carnap advances an intensional semantic framework on which modal claims are true in virtue of semantical rules alone, and so are a priori. In 'Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology' (1950), Carnap advances an epistemic-ontological framework on which metaphysical claims are either trivial or meaningless, since lacking any means of substantive confirmation. Carnap carried out these projects two decades before Kripke influentially argued, in Naming and Necessity (1972/1980), that some modal claims are true a posteriori. How should (...) a neo-Carnapian respond to Kripke's results? Some (notably, Chalmers and Jackson, in their 2001) have suggested that an extension of intensional semantics along lines of "epistemic two-dimensionalism" can accommodate Kripke's results while largely preserving commitment to the semantics-based a priority of modal claims. Here we consider how best to implement this suggestion, and how the resulting semantics fits with Carnap's second project. We find that the most promising (and most Carnapian!) post-Kripke version of Carnap’s semantics---abductive two-dimensionalism---presupposes an epistemology which undermines Carnap's metaphysical anti-realism. (shrink)
Here is one argument against realism. (1) Realists are committed to the classical rules for negation. But (2) legitimate rules of inference must conserve evidence. And (3) the classical rules for negation do not conserve evidence. So (4) realism is wrong. Most realists reject 2. But it has recently been argued that if we allow denied sentences as premisses and conclusions in inferences we will be able to reject 3. And this new argument against 3 generates a new response to (...) the antirealist argument: keep 1 and 2, avoiding 4 by rejecting 3. My aim in this paper is to see how much work in the fight against anti-realism this new response can really do. I argue that there is a powerful objection to the response: 2 is in tension with the claim that denied sentences can be premisses and conclusions in inferences. But I show that, even given this objection, the new response has an important role to play. (shrink)
Suppose one believes that the historical record of discarded scientific theories provides good evidence against scientific realism. Should one adopt Kyle Stanford’s specific version of this view, based on the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives? I present reasons for answering this question in the negative. In particular, Stanford’s challenge cannot use many of the prima facie strongest pieces of historical evidence against realism, namely: superseded theories whose successors were explicitly conceived, and superseded theories that were not the result of elimination-of-alternatives inferences. (...) Attempts to accommodate and within Stanford’s framework are incompatible with other commitments Stanford holds, such as anti-realism being piecemeal instead of global. As separate lines of criticism, I argue that there are problems with Stanford’s claim that the PUA is the most important challenge to realism, and with his view of instrumentalist theory endorsement. (shrink)
The most basic divide amongst analytic metaphysicians separates realists from anti-realists. By examining certain characteristic and problematic features of these two families of views, we uncover their underlying metametaphysicalorientations, which turn out to coincide. This shared philosophical picture that underlies both the realist and the anti-realist project we call the Modern Picture. It rests on a crucial distinction between reality as it is for us and reality as it is in itself. It is argued that this distinction indeed generates the (...) realism/anti-realism dichotomy, and is also responsible for the problematic aspects highlighted earlier. We conclude by sketching an alternative philosophical picture that rejects the distinction between reality as it is for us and reality as it is in itself, which we call the Aristotelian Picture, and consider whether it is able to avoid the issues to which the Modern Picture gives rise. (shrink)
Mathematical concepts play at least three roles in the application of mathematics: an inferential role, a representational role, and an expressive role. In this paper, I argue that, despite what has often been alleged, platonists do not fully accommodate these features of the application of mathematics. At best, platonism provides partial ways of handling the issues. I then sketch an alternative, anti-realist account of the application of mathematics, and argue that this account manages to accommodate these features of the application (...) process. In this way, a better account of mathematical applications is, in principle, available. (shrink)
W. V. Quine describes himself as a “robust realist” about physical objects in the external world. This realism about objects is due to Quine's naturalism. On the other hand, Quine's naturalistic epistemology involves a conception of objects as posits that we introduce in our theories about the world. This conception of objects can be seen as anti-realist rather than realist. In this article, I discuss the questions whether there is a tension between Quine's realism and his epistemological conception of objects, (...) and how Quine's conception of objects should be understood if he is also to be regarded as a realist. I also address the question whether Quine should be placed on the realist or the anti-realist side of the current realism debate. I argue that Quine's conception of objects as posits is a general account of the nature of objects, and that this account does not conflict with Quine's realism as long as this realism is properly understood. I also argue that Quine cannot be placed on either side of the contemporary realism debate, since his realism is not metaphysical realism and his conception of objects is not an anti-realist doctrine according to which objects would be less than real. (shrink)
After sketching an argument for radical anti-realism that does not appeal to human limitations but polynomial-time computability in its definition of feasibility, I revisit an argument by Wittgenstein on the surveyability of proofs, and then examine the consequences of its application to the notion of canonical proof in contemporary proof-theoretical-semantics.
An "overview article" that (a) clarifies the nature of theological anti-realism and how that thesis should be formulated, and (b) negatively assesses some of the most common arguments for being a theological anti-realist.
This article examines a somewhat neglected argument for the existence of God which appeals to the divine perspective as a way of reconciling the conflicting claims of realism and anti-realism. Six representative examples are set out (Berkeley, Ferrier, T. H. Green, Josiah Royce, Gordon Clark and Michael Dummett), reasons are considered why this argument has received less attention than it might, and a brief sketch given of the most promising way in which it might be developed.
Here the relationship between understanding and knowledge of meaning is discussed from two different perspectives: that of Dummettian semantic anti-realism and that of the semantic externalism of Putnam and others. The question addressed is whether or not the truth of semantic externalism would undermine a central premise in one of Dummetts key arguments for anti-realism, insofar as Dummetts premise involves an assumption about the transparency of meaning and semantic externalism is often taken to undermine such transparency. Several notions (...) of transparency and conveyability of meaning are distinguished and it is argued that, though the Dummettian argument for anti-realism presupposes only a weak connection between knowledge of meaning and understanding, even this much is not trivially true in light of semantic externalism, and that semantic externalism, if true, would thus represent a reason for rejecting the crucial assumption on which the Dummettian argument depends. (shrink)
It is often claimed that anti-realists are compelled to reject the inference of the knowability paradox, that there are no unknown truths. I call those anti-realists who feel so compelled ‘faint-hearted’, and argue in turn that anti-realists should affirm this inference, if it is to be consistent. A major part of my strategy in defending anti-realism is to formulate an anti-realist definition of truth according to which a statement is true only if it is verified by someone, at some (...) time. I also liberalize what is meant by a verification to allow for indirect forms of verification. From this vantage point, I examine a key objection to anti-realism, that it is committed to the necessary existence of minds, and reject a response to this problem set forth by Michael Hand. In turn I provide a more successful anti-realist response to the necessary minds problem that incorporates what I call an ‘agential’ view of verification. I conclude by considering what intellectual cost there is to being an anti-realist in the sense I am advocating. (shrink)
In the first section, I characterize realism and illustrate the sense in which Wittgenstein's account of mathematics is anti-realist. In the second section, I spell out the above notion of objectivity and show how and anti-realist account of truth, namely, Putnam's idealized rational acceptability, preserves objectivity. In the third section, I discuss the "majority argument" and illustrate how Wittgenstein's anti-realism can also account for the objectivity of mathematics. What Putnam's and Wittgenstein's anti-realisms ultimately show is that this notion of (...) objectivity is distinct from the notion of realism and that an account of objectivity is no reason to be either realist or anti-realist. (shrink)
This article firstly criticizes Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach for being indecisive about the realist notion of emergence it proposes as well as for her inadequate account of structural conditioning. It is argued that critical realists’ conceptualizations of emergence cannot but lead to inconsistencies about the adequate placement of agents as parts of emergent entities. The inconsistencies to which these conceptualizations lead necessitate an anti-realist model of the constitution of societies which takes into account that social structures are existentially dependent upon (...) ideational elaboration. This alternative anti-realist theoretical perspective is provided by Ontogenesis, within the framework of which the realists’ idea of the ‘necessary and internal relations’ give their place to the ontological pervasiveness of the culturally shared imaginary schemata. Archer’s denial of a collective synchronic impact to social forms is implied in her analysis of morphogenetic cycles, according to which, structural elaboration post-dates social interaction; and this denial is also expressed in this very idea of emergent structures. Instead, for Ontogenesis, social forms are synchronically dependent on the collective impact of the differently socially placed agents, who have different interests and material resources, and whose interaction only becomes meaningful when drawing on these culturally shared imaginary schemata. (shrink)
Open future is incompatible with realism about possible worlds. Since realistically conceived (concrete or abstract) possible worlds are maximal in the sense that they contain/represent the full history of a possible spacetime, past and future included, if such a world is actual now, the future is fully settled now, which rules out openness. The kind of metaphysical indeterminacy required for open future is incompatible with the kind of maximality which is built into the concept of possible worlds. The paper discusses (...) various modal realist responses and argues that they provide ersatz openness only, or they lead to incoherence, or they render the resulting theory inadequate as a theory of modality. The paper also considers various accounts of the open future, including rejection of bivalence, supervaluationism, and the ‘thin red line’ view (TRL), and claims that a version of (TRL) can avoid the incompatibility problem, but only at the cost of deflating the notion of openness. (shrink)
The indispensability argument for abstract mathematical entities has been an important issue in the philosophy of mathematics. The argument relies on several assumptions. Some objections have been made against these assumptions, but there are several serious defects in these objections. Ameliorating these defects leads to a new anti-realistic philosophy of mathematics, mainly: first, in mathematical applications, what really exist and can be used as tools are not abstract mathematical entities, but our inner representations that we create in imagining abstract mathematical (...) entities; second, the thoughts that we create in imagining infinite mathematical entities are bounded by external conditions. (shrink)
I will be concerned with the following question: are there compelling arguments for postulating a distinction between the truth of a statement and the recognition of its truth, when truth is conceived along the lines of a suitable generalization of the intuitionistic idea that it should be characterized as the existence of a proof? I will argue that the distinction is not necessary within the conceptual framework of intuitionism by replying to two arguments to the contrary, one based on the (...) paradox of inference, the other on considerations concerning the content of a statement. (shrink)
According to the classical argument from moral disagreement, the existence of widespread or persistent moral disagreement is best explained by, and thus inductively supports the view that there are no objective moral facts. One of the most common charges against this argument is that it “overgeneralizes”: it implausibly forces its proponents to deny the existence of objective facts about certain matters of physics, history, philosophy, etc. as well (companions in guilt), or even about its own conclusion or its own soundness (...) (self-defeat). Is this overgeneralization charge justified? In this paper I argue that both overgeneralization objections are rather weak. The companions in guilt version very likely fails, and the self-defeat version more likely fails than not. This result gives us reason to consider the argument from moral disagreement more seriously than has recently been done. (shrink)
Anti-realism is a doctrine about logic, language, and meaning that is based on the work of Wittgenstein and Frege. In this book, Professor Tennant clarifies and develops Dummett's arguments for anti-realism and ultimately advocates a radical reform of our logical practices.
At a time when the analytic/continental split dominates contemporary philosophy, this ambitious work offers a careful and clear-minded way to bridge that divide. Combining conceptual rigor and clarity of prose with historical erudition, A Thing of This World shows how one of the standard issues of analytic philosophy—realism and anti-realism—has also been at the heart of continental philosophy. Using a framework derived from prominent analytic thinkers, Lee Braver traces the roots of anti-realism to Kant's idea that the mind (...) actively organizes experience. He then shows in depth and in detail how this idea evolves through the works of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida. This narrative presents an illuminating account of the history of continental philosophy by explaining how these thinkers build on each other's attempts to develop new concepts of reality and truth in the wake of the rejection of realism. Braver demonstrates that the analytic and continental traditions have been discussing the same issues, albeit with different vocabularies, interests, and approaches. By developing a commensurate vocabulary, his book promotes a dialogue between the two branches of philosophy in which each can begin to learn from the other. (shrink)
Despite the fact about colour, that it is one of the most obvious and conspicuous features of the world, there is a vast number of different theories about colour, theories which seem to be proliferating rather than decreasing. How is it possible that there can be so much disagreement about what colours are? Is it possible that these different theorists are not talking about the same thing? Could it be that more than one of them is right? Indeed some theorists, (...) e.g. Leo M. Hurvich, D. L. McAdam and K. Nassau, say that the term ‘colour’ is used to identify a range of different properties, e.g. pigments, properties of light, and sensations. Such a view has its attractions, but it raises the question of what it is that unites these various concepts – what is it that would make them all concepts of colour? What is it that justifies using the same terms, ‘yellow’, ‘blue’, ‘pink’, mauve’, and so on?This paper aims to address this question, arguing that its answer supports the conclusion that the best theory of colour is a form of anti‐realism: the Illusory theory of colours. There are two parts to this thesis, one negative, the other positive. The negative part is that there are no colours, as they are ordinarily conceived. The positive part is that, nevertheless, the world is such that ‘it is as if there are such colours’. Such a theory has important implications. One is that it doesn’t fall neatly into the usual taxonomy of philosophical theories. In particular, it does not deserve the label ‘eliminativist’. Another is that it allows some space for the views expressed by Hurvich, McAdam and Nassau, but not quite in the sense that they intend. (shrink)
Abstract Street has argued that the meta-ethical realist is faced with a dilemma. Either evolutionary forces have had a distorting influenced on our ability to track moral properties or evolutionary forces influenced our beliefs in the direction of tracking moral properties. Street argues that if the realist accepts the first horn of the dilemma, the realist must accept implausible skepticism regarding moral beliefs. If the realist accepts the second horn of the dilemma, the realist owes an explanation of the fitness (...) producing nature of moral beliefs. As Street establishes the dialectic, the anti-realist’s explanation is better. I will argue that Street’s first horn is question begging then I will grasp the second horn of the dilemma and argue that only the realist can explain the role of moral beliefs in our evolutionary history. My argument will take the form of a dilemma. For our evaluative judgments to be fitness conducive, they must be responsive to the right sort of external world properties. The non-reductive realist can provide such a set of properties. On the first horn of the dilemma, the anti-realist cannot. The realist, unlike the anti-realist, can explain why our evaluative judgments are fitness conducive. The realist has won the explanatory battle. On the second horn of the dilemma, the anti-realist can provide a set of non-normative external world properties that our evaluative attitudes are responsive to. In doing so, the anti-realist has provided the heretofore-missing component of the reductive realist’s project. Again, the realist has won. (shrink)
Strawson (1994) and Peacocke (1992) introduced thought experiments that show that it seems intuitive that there is, in some way, an experiential character to mental events of understanding. Some (e.g., Siewert 1998, 2011; Pitt 2004) try to explain these intuitions by saying that just as we have, say, headache experiences and visual experiences of blueness, so too we have experiences of understanding. Others (e.g., Prinz 2006, 2011; Tye 1996) propose that these intuitions can be explained without positing experiences of understanding. (...) Call this the debate between Realism and Anti-Realism about experiences of understanding. This paper aims to advance that debate in two ways. In the first half, I develop more precise characterizations of what Realists and Anti-Realists propose. In the second half, I distinguish the four most plausible versions of Anti-Realism and argue that Realism better explains the target intuition than any of them does. (shrink)
Realism and anti-realism about a domain of thought are metaphysical theses that involve the natures of the truthmakers in that domain and the truthmaking relation that is operant in the domain. Truthmaker theory is not exclusive territory for realists: anti-realist views are also best understood in terms of how they understand truthmakers and truthmaking. In particular, I explore the possibility of projectivist truthmaking, and show how it makes sense of quasi-realism. In addition to critically examining some extant accounts of (...) the relationship between realism and truthmaking, I offer an account that best captures the nature of the various realism debates. (shrink)
The basic question of ontology is “What exists?”. The basic question of metaontology is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ontology? Here ontological realists say yes, and ontological anti-realists say no. (Compare: The basic question of ethics is “What is right?”. The basic question of metaethics is: are there objective answers to the basic question of ethics? Here moral realists say yes, and moral anti-realists say no.) For example, the ontologist may ask: Do numbers exist? The Platonist (...) says yes, and the nominalist says no. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether numbers exist? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Likewise, the ontologist may ask: Given two distinct entities, when does a mereological sum of those entities exist? The universalist says always, while the nihilist says never. The metaontologist may ask: is there an objective fact of the matter about whether the mereological sum of two distinct entities exists? The ontological realist says yes, and the ontological anti-realist says no. Ontological realism is often traced to Quine (1948), who held that we can determine what exists by seeing which entities are endorsed by our best scientiﬁc theory of the world. In recent years, the practice of ontology has often presupposed an ever-stronger ontological realism, and strong versions of ontological realism have received explicit statements by Fine (this volume), Sider (2001; this volume), van Inwagen (1998; this volume), and others. (shrink)
The anti-realist argument from underconsideration focuses on the fact that, when scientists evaluate theories, they only ever consider a subset of the theories that can account for the available data. As a result, when scientists judge one theory to be superior to competitor theories, they are not warranted in drawing the conclusion that the superior theory is likely true with respect to what it says about unobservable entities and processes. I defend the argument from underconsideration from the objections of Peter (...) Lipton. I argue that the inconsistency that Lipton claims to find in the argument vanishes once we understand what the anti-realist means when she claims that scientists are reliable. I also argue that collapsing the distinction between relative and absolute evaluations, as Lipton recommends, has its costs. Finally, I briefly examine Richard Boyd's influential defence of realism. (shrink)
It might be expected that it would suffice for the entry for “ moral anti-realism” to contain only some links to other entries in this encyclopedia. It could contain a link to “ moral realism” and stipulate the negation of the view there described. Alternatively, it could have links to the entries “anti-realism” and “morality” and could stipulate the conjunction of the materials contained therein. The fact that neither of these approaches would be adequate—and, more strikingly, that following (...) the two procedures would yield substantively non-equivalent results—reveals the contentious and unsettled nature of the topic. (shrink)
Abstract Not much scholarly work is needed in order to stumble across many passages where Edmund Husserl seems to advocate an anti-realist attitude towards the natural sciences. This tendency, however, is not well-received within the secondary literature. While some commentators criticize Husserl for his alleged scientific anti-realism, others argue that Husserl's position is much more realist than the first impression indicates. It is against this background that I want to argue for the following theses: a) The basic outlook of (...) Husserl's epistemology as well as his more substantial comments regarding the natural sciences indeed result in a (sophisticated version of) scientific anti-realism which bears certain resemblances to Bas van Fraassen's constructive empiricism; b) This scientific anti-realism can be defended against the two most common objections raised in the secondary literature; c) It is only by means of this sophisticated version of scientific anti-realism that phenomenology can circumvent the problem of ?scientific objectivism? (shrink)
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. (shrink)
There are a bewildering variety of ways the terms "realism" and "anti-realism" have been used in philosophy and furthermore the different uses of these terms are only loosely connected with one another. Rather than give a piecemeal map of this very diverse landscape, the authors focus on what they see as the core concept: realism about a particular domain is the view that there are facts or entities distinctive of that domain, and their existence and nature is in some (...) important sense objective and mind-independent. The authors carefully set out and explain the different realist and anti-realist positions and arguments that occur in five key domains: science, ethics, mathematics, modality and fictional objects. For each area the authors examine the various styles of argument in support of and against realism and anti-realism, show how these different positions and arguments arise in very different domains, evaluate their success within these fields, and draw general conclusions about these assorted strategies. Error theory, fictionalism, non-cognitivism, relativism and response-dependence are taken as the most important positions in opposition to the realist and these are explored in depth. Suitable for advanced level undergraduates, the book offers readers a clear introduction to a subject central to much contemporary work in metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In this article the contemporary debate between realism and anti-realism in analytical philosophy is analyzed and discussed. It is claimed that the nature of the reference relation which holds between language and the world is central in this discussion which has both logical, semantical, and epistemological aspects. In a firstpart, A Tarski's (semantic) theory of truth is explained and it is shown how, amongst several theories of truth, Tarski's may be called a realist one. However, a Tarski-style semantics need (...) not lead to a realist theory of Truth and Reference, as is shown in a subsequent part. Here, H Putnam's views on these matters are discussed. It is shown how Putnam in the course of his intellectual history has changed his view from a realist to an anti-realist position. Putnam'sarguments show the importance of logical and metalogical issues in the debate. In a final part, Putnam's views are criticized and it is shown how a line of argument, analogous to Putnam's, may lead to a realist theory of meaning and reference. (shrink)
On the Dummettian understanding, anti-realism regarding a particular discourse amounts to (or at the very least, involves) a refusal to accept the determinacy of the subject matter of that discourse and a corresponding refusal to assert at least some instances of excluded middle (which can be understood as expressing this determinacy of subject matter). In short: one is an anti-realist about a discourse if and only if one accepts intuitionistic logic as correct for that discourse. On careful examination, the (...) strongest Dummettian arguments for anti-realism of this sort fail to secure intuitionistic logic as the single, correct logic for anti-realist discourses. Instead, antirealists are placed in a situation where they fail to be justified in asserting monism (that intuitionistic logic is the unique correct logic). Thus, antirealists seem forced either to accept pluralism (i.e. one or more intermediate logic is at least as `correct’ as intuitionistic logic–an option I take to be unattractive from the anti-realist perspective), or they must be anti-realists about the realism/anti-realism debate (and, in particular, must refuse to assert the instance of excluded middle equivalent to logical monism or logical pluralism). (shrink)
Scientific anti-realists who appeal to the pessimistic induction (PI) claim that the theoretical terms of past scientific theories often fail to refer to anything. But on standard views in philosophy of language, such reference failures prima facie lead to certain sentences being neither true nor false. Thus, if these standard views are correct, then the conclusion of the PI should be that significant chunks of current theories are truth-valueless. But that is semantic anti-realism about scientific discourse—a position most philosophers (...) of science, anti-realists included, consider anathema today. Therefore, proponents of the PI confront a dilemma: either accept semantic anti-realism or reject common semantic views. I examine strategies (with particular emphasis on supervaluations) for the PI proponent to either lessen the sting of this argument, or learn to live with it. 1 Introduction2 Designation Failure 2.1 Designation failure leads to truth-valueless sentences2.1.1 Direct reference theory2.1.2 Fregeanism2.1.3 Accounts of reference-fixing: why ‘phlogiston’ fails to designate 2.2 Objection: sentences exhibiting designation failure are false not truth-valueless 2.3 Avoiding truth-valuelessness via controversial semantic positions3 What to do? Closing the Gaps4 Conclusion. (shrink)
This critical survey of recent work on Kant's doctrine of the fact of reason and his doctrine of the practical postulates (of freedom, God, and immortality) assesses the implications of these doctrines for the debate about realism and antirealism in Kant's moral philosophy. Section 1 briefly surveys some salient considerations from the first Critique and Groundwork. In section 2, I argue that recent work on the role, content, "factual" nature, and epistemic status of the fact of reason does not support (...) an anti-realist interpretation of Kant's ethics. In section 3, I argue that recent work on the derivation and epistemic and ontological status of the practical postulates does not support an anti-realist interpretation of Kant's ethics. (shrink)
In 1967, after a talk Deleuze gave to the Society of French Philosophy, Ferdinand Alquiéé expressed concern during the question and answer session that perhaps Deleuze was relying too heavily upon science and not giving adequate attention to questions and problems that Alquiéé took to be distinctively philosophical. Deleuze responded by agreeing with Alquiéé; moreover, he argued that his primary interest was precisely in the metaphysics science needs rather than in the science philosophy needs. This metaphysics, Deleuze argues, is to (...) be done ‘‘in the style of Whitehead’’ rather than the style of Kant, and in developing this metaphysics Deleuze draws heavily on Spinoza. The present essay examines this Deleuzian-Spinozist metaphysics done in the style of Whitehead, the ‘‘metaphysics science needs’’, drawing on the writings of David Hume and Bruno Latour in the process. This discussion will in turn enable us to situate Deleuze's metaphysics in relation to contemporary debates concerning speculative realism and correlationism, and especially Quentin Meillassoux's critique of the latter. Our conclusion will be that the kind of metaphysics Deleuze pursues is neither correlationist nor straightforwardly realist, but rather charts a course between realism and anti-realism. (shrink)
I argue that Fitch’s ‘paradox of knowability’ presents no special problem for the epistemic anti-realist who believes that reality is epistemically accessible to us. For the claim which is the target of the argument (If p then it is possible to know p) is not a commitment of anti-realism. The epistemic anti-realist’s commitment is (or should be) to the recognizability of the states of affairs which render true propositions true, not to the knowability of the propositions themselves. A formal (...) apparatus for discussing the recognizability of states of affairs is offered, and other prima facie similar approaches to the paradox argument are reviewed. (shrink)
I argue that the implementation of theDummettian program of an ``anti-realist'' semanticsrequires quite different conceptions of the technicalmeaning-theoretic terms used than those presupposed byDummett. Starting from obvious incoherences in anattempt to conceive truth conditions as assertibilityconditions, I argue that for anti-realist purposesnon-epistemic semantic notions are more usefully kept apart from epistemic ones rather than beingreduced to them. Embedding an anti-realist theory ofmeaning in Martin-Löf's Intuitionistic Type Theory(ITT) takes care, however, of many notorious problemsthat have arisen in trying to specify suitableintuitionistic (...) notions of semantic value,truth-conditions, and validity, taking into accountthe so-called ``defeasibility of evidence'' forassertions in empirical discourses. (shrink)
This paper develops lines of criticism directed at two currently popular versions of anti-realism: the putnam-rorty-kuhn version that is centered on an acceptance theory of truth, and the van fraassen version that is centered on empiricist strictures over warranted beliefs. the paper continues by elaborating and extending a stance, called "the natural ontological attitude", that is neither realist nor anti-realist.
Anti-realism is often claimed to be preferable to realism on epistemological grounds: while realists have difficulty explaining how we can ever know claims if we are realists about it, anti-realism faces no analogous problem. This paper focuses on anti-realism about normativity to investigate this alleged advantage to anti-realism in detail. I set up a framework in which a version of anti-realism explains a type of modal reliability that appears to be epistemologically promising, and plausibly explains (...) the appearance of an epistemological advantage to realism. But, I argue, this appearance is illusory, and on closer investigation the anti-realist view does not succeed in explaining the presence of familiar epistemological properties for normative belief like knowledge or the absence of defeat. My conclusion on the basis of this framework is that there is a tension in the anti-realist view between the urge to idealize the conditions in which normative beliefs ground normative facts, and a robust kind of reliability that normative belief can have if the anti-realist resists these idealizations. (shrink)
The decision whether to have a realist or an anti-realist attitude towards scientific hypotheses is interpreted in this paper as a choice that scientists themselves have to face in their work as scientists, rather than as a ‘philosophical’ problem. Scientists’ choices between realism and instrumentalism are interpreted in this paper with the help of two different conceptual tools: a deflationary semantics grounded in the inferentialist approach to linguistic practices developed by some authors, and an epistemic utility function that tries to (...) represent the cognitive preferences of scientists. The first tool is applied to two different questions traditionally related to the problem of scientific realism: the non-miracle argument, and the continuity of reference. The second one is applied to the problem of unconceived alternatives, and to the distinction between realist and instrumentalist attitudes towards scientific hypotheses. (shrink)
Ruben Berrios Queen’s University Belfast Anti-realism and Aesthetic Cognition Abstract At the core of the debate between scientific realism and anti-realism is the question of the relation between scientific theory and the world. The realist possesses a mimetic conception of the relation between theory and reality. For the realist, scientific theories represent reality. The anti-realist, in contrast, seeks to understand the relations between theory and world in non-mimetic terms. We will examine Cartwright’s simulacrum account of explanation in order (...) to illuminate the anti-realist position. Science consists of phenomenological and theoretical laws. The former are concerned with appearances, or those phenomena that can be directly observed; the latter involve the unobservable reality that is alleged to underlie appearances, and are capable only of indirect confirmation. Phenomenological laws are said to be descriptive, whilst theoretical laws are understood as explanatory. Cartwright is concerned with the theoretical. She claims that the standard realist account of the explanatory efficacy of theoretical laws is faulty. The explanatory power of theoretical laws consists in their ability to provide an explanation of physical phenomena. According to Cartwright, the realist claims that laws explain phenomena by providing an abstract description of them, in terms of their micro-structural features, that is alleged to be true. On this view, explanatory power is entirely dependent on descriptive adequacy. As phenomenological laws describe appearances, so theoretical laws describe the fundamental reality that governs appearances. Cartwright rejects the preceding view and in its place proposes a simulacrum account of explanation. According to Cartwright, the explanatory power of theoretical laws is related not to descriptive adequacy, but rather to the construction of adequate models. To explain a phenomenon is to construct a model which best or most adequately accommodates the phenomenon to a theory. The model will consist of various posited objects that serve to explain the phenomena in terms that are consistent with a set of theoretical laws. Cartwright claims that theoretical laws are true of, or describe, the objects of the model. The objects of the model, however, are not descriptive of reality. They are simulacra. They have, that is, the form or appearance of things, without possessing their substance or proper qualities. In light of the foregoing account we can summarise the distinction between scientific realism and anti-realism as follows. The realist claims that theoretical laws literally represent real objects. The anti-realist claims that laws represent objects of a model that are simulacra of reality. Anti-realism has an aesthetic dimension. The movement from realism to anti-realism is also the movement from the mimetic conception of the scientist as holding a mirror to nature to the constructionist view of the scientist as engaging with nature through invention. There is a lot of the artist in the anti-realist’s view of the scientist. This is true for Cartwright as well as, for example, Van Fraassen in his doctrine of constructive empiricism. It would appear, then, that the philosophy of science has absorbed some concepts that are ordinarily housed in aesthetics. And it has done so profitably. The aim of this paper is to reverse the direction of disciplinary influence. Can art, in relation to its status as a cognitive enterprise, be illuminated by scientific anti-realism? I will argue that it can. In an unexpected reference to the Nicomachean Ethics, Cartwright draws a suggestive parallel between theoretical laws and general moral principles, on the one hand, and physical phenomena and everyday moral conduct, on the other hand. If we add to this the claim that a central component of art’s value is cognitive, then we have the basic materials with which to flesh out a broadly anti-realist view of art. In the production of art, artists can construct models that mediate between everyday ethical phenomena and general ethical tendencies. These models reveal the ways in which there are implicit consistencies or inconsistencies, conflicts or congruences and so forth, between the phenomena and the tendencies. On this basis art can contribute to the reflective understanding of ethical life. This constitutes to a large degree art’s status as a cognitive enterprise. To apprehend art cognitively as artist or critic is to engage in aesthetic cognition. (shrink)
Lee Braver: A thing of this world: A history of continental anti-realism Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11007-011-9210-9 Authors Paul Livingston, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
This article offers a critical perspective on two lines of thought in recent epistemology and philosophy of science, namely Michael Dummett?s anti-realist approach to issues of truth, meaning, and knowledge and Bas van Fraassen?s influential programme of?constructive empiricism?. While not denying the salient differences between them it shows how they converge on a sceptical outlook concerning the realist claim that truth might always transcend the restrictions of some given state of knowledge. The author puts the case that such sceptical arguments, (...) if followed through consistently, must involve giving up all claim to account for our knowledge of the growth of scientific knowledge. He also takes issue with Dummett?s idea of truth as nothing more than a matter of?warranted assertibility? and with van Fraassen?s likewise verificationist conception of empirical warrant as the most we can have by way of epistemic justification. Thus it is wrong to suppose that the realist is merely indulging in a display of? courage not under fire? when she assumes ontological commitments in excess of the observational data. This disavowal of realism in favour of a theory which?saves the appearances? has a less-than-distinguished prehistory in the range of compromise strategies adopted by upholders of a dominant metaphysics or world-view, starting out with the orthodox Catholic attempt to defuse the implications of the heliocentric hypothesis advanced by Copernicus and Galileo. Such theological motives are nowadays not so prominent although? it is suggested fithey do emerge at certain points in Dummett?s writing. More constructively, this article presents a case for objectivism with regard to scientific truth and also for inference to the best causal explanation on both the micro- and the macrophysical scale as the only approach with an adequate claim to make sense of the history of advancements in scientific knowledge to date. (shrink)