In On What Matters, Derek Parfit defends a new metaethical theory, which he calls non-realist cognitivism. It claims that normative judgments are beliefs; that some normative beliefs are true; that the normative concepts that are a part of the propositions that are the contents of normative beliefs are irreducible, unanalysable and of their own unique kind; and that neither the natural features of the reality nor any additional normative features of the reality make the relevant normative beliefs true. The aim (...) of this article is to argue that Parfit’s theory is problematic because its defenders have no resources to make sense of the nature of normative truth, which is an essential element of their view. I do this by showing how the traditional theories of truth are not available for the non-realist cognitivists. (shrink)
In this book a non-realist philosophy of mathematics is presented. Two ideas are essential to its conception. These ideas are (i) that pure mathematics--taken in isolation from the use of mathematical signs in empirical judgement--is an activity for which a formalist account is roughly correct, and (ii) that mathematical signs nonetheless have a sense, but only in and through belonging to a system of signs with empirical application. This conception is argued by the two authors and is critically discussed by (...) three philosophers of mathematics. (shrink)
It is common in metaethics today to draw a distinction between “naturalist” and “non-naturalist” versions of moral realism, where the former view maintains that moral properties are natural properties, while the latter view maintains that they are non-natural properties instead. The nature of the disagreement here can be understood in different ways, but the most common way is to understand it as a metaphysical disagreement. In particular, the disagreement here is about the reducibility of moral properties, where the “naturalists” maintain (...) that moral properties are in some way reducible to the lower-level natural properties on which they supervene, while the “non-naturalists” maintain that moral properties are sui generis and robustly irreducible. In this paper I present a novel version of realist ethical naturalism—a view that I call Emergentist Ethical Naturalism—that reveals this common way of understanding the distinction between naturalism and non-naturalism to be flawed by combining a commitment to ethical naturalism with a commitment to the sui generis and robustly irreducible nature of moral properties that typically defines non-naturalism. Then, after presenting the theory and addressing a few worries that one might have about it, I show how it offers some novel, emergence-based responses to the various supervenience challenges that plague moral realism and thereby gives the ethical naturalist a robustly non-reductive option for dealing with these challenges. (shrink)
The paper has two aims: (1) it sets out to show that it is well motivated to seek for an account of quantum non-locality in the framework of ontic structural realism (OSR), which integrates the notions of holism and non-separability that have been employed since the 1980s to achieve such an account. However, recent research shows that OSR on its own cannot provide such an account. Against this background, the paper argues that by applying OSR to the primitive ontology theories (...) of quantum physics, one can accomplish that task. In particular, Bohmian mechanics offers the best prospect for doing so. (2) In general, the paper seeks to bring OSR and the primitive ontology theories of quantum physics together: on the one hand, in order to be applicable to quantum mechanics, OSR has to consider what the quantum ontology of matter distributed in space-time is. On the other hand, as regards the primitive ontology theories, OSR provides the conceptual tools for these theories to answer the question of what the ontological status of the wave-function is. (shrink)
Based on original translations of passages from the works of three major thinkers of the classical Indian school of Advaita, but addressing issues found in Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein and contemporary analytic philosophers, this book argues for a philosophical position it calls 'non-realism'. This is the view that an independent, external world must be assumed if the features of cognition are to be explained, but that it cannot be proved that there is such a world, independently of an (...) appeal to cognition itself. This position is constructed against idealist denials of externality, realist arguments for an independent world and the sceptical denial of the coherence of cognition. (shrink)
Don Cupitt's version of religious non‐realism based as it is on linguistic constructivism, radical relativism and the view that culture forms human nature has been attacked with devastating effect by realists in the last few years. I argue that there is another strand in Cupitt's thinking, his biological naturalism, that supports a different version of religious non‐realism and that he failed to see this possibility because of his global non‐realism and commitment to the strong programme in the sociology of scientific (...) knowledge. Cupitt's biological naturalism should have led smoothly into evolutionary psychology, which has an account of religious belief that supports a non‐realist interpretation. Evolutionary psychology shows that religious beliefs are natural, normal and about matters of the deepest significance to humans. They gain their character from the operation of evolved structures of the mind and cannot be reduced to other sorts of belief. I argue that the form of religious non‐realism that emerges from taking biological naturalism seriously has a future because it respects the nature of religious belief and seeks to build on its capacity as a unique source of meaning in people's lives. There is also enough common ground with religious realism for there to be genuine dialogue between the two. (shrink)
My aim in this article is to analyze and to discuss what I think are the two most important approaches to a theory of truth from a non-realist standpoint: the proposal of Crispin Wright and the proposal enounced by Putnam in Reason, Truth and History. Wright argues for a minimalist theory of truth according to which truth has to be a metaphysically neutral notion and admits several possible models. One of these possible models is Putnam's notion of "rational acceptability under (...) ideal epistemic circumstances"; the other one is Wright's own proposal of truth as "superassertibility". Both authors are seeking for a notion of truth that is both absolute and stable (in contrast with warranted assertibility). I will claim that neither of the proposals satisfies these requirements as long as we understand them as generalizations from the mathematical (proof-based) model. (shrink)
schopenhauer has been ignored in contemporary metaethics, and his commentators rarely attempt to analyze his metaethical views in contemporary terms. This is unfortunate. Schopenhauer has something important to teach us about moral realism.1I have both philosophical and interpretive aims in this paper. My philosophical aim is to show how Schopenhauer's views challenge the contemporary understanding of moral realism. The challenge arises from the fact that, while Schopenhauer's view implies that morality is "real" in a metaphysically- and epistemologically-robust sense, that view (...) denies a central piece of the contemporary definition of moral realism: the cognitive (i.e.... (shrink)
Many participants in the debate over the current state and recent developments of economics make claims that are unrefined, simplistic, often exaggerated. This is understandable: the stakes are high, the issues trigger emotional responses, and few participants are motivated or equipped to seek more nuanced analyses. To assert, or to deny, that economics as a scientific discipline or a particular part of it (such as a model) is about reality – or refers to reality, represents it, is true about it, (...) or is truthlike about it – is to make a very complex and highly ambiguous claim. 1 The disputants often make claims that have parallels in the philosophical controversy between scientific realists and their opponents, or at any rate those claims can be partly analyzed in terms of some of the arguments presented in this philosophical controversy. The question addressed here is whether realism about economics is a viable position. The argument proceeds by way of refuting a number of arguments against realism about economics. I suggest a genuine controversy over the factuality of any particular strand or piece of economics requires realism as a general interpretation of economics – or at any rate requires debunking the anti-realist arguments discussed below. “The issue of realism” as most economists would recognize it, is not exactly the issue of realism as philosophers recognize it. “The issue of realism” in economics is about realisticness as a property of theories , while (part of) the issue of realism in philosophy is about realism as a theory of theories . But some parts of the issue of realisticness (such as those related to reference and truth) in economics can be translated into aspects of the issue of realism as a theory of theories. Thus there is also an issue of realism (with no quotation marks) in economics. It is this issue of realism that has to be settled as a prerequisite for critical assessments of important forms of realisticness of economic theories. (shrink)
This paper formulates a general epistemological argument against what I call non-causal realism, generalizing domain specific arguments by Benacerraf, Field, and others. First I lay out the background to the argument, making a number of distinctions that are sometimes missed in discussions of epistemological arguments against realism. Then I define the target of the argument—non-causal realism—and argue that any non-causal realist theory, no matter the subject matter, cannot be given a reasonable epistemology and so should be rejected. Finally I discuss (...) and respond to several possible responses to the argument. In addition to clearing up and avoiding numerous misunderstandings of arguments of this kind that are quite common in the literature, this paper aims to present and endorse a rigorous and fully general epistemological argument against realism. (shrink)
Thomas Scanlon and Derek Parfit have recently defended a meta-ethical view that is supposed to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality, without the metaphysical implications that many find hard to accept in other realist views. Both philosophers argue that truths in the normative domain do not have ontological implications, while truths in the scientific domain presuppose a metaphysical reality. What distinguishes Scanlon and Parfit’s approach from other realistic meta-ethical theories is that they maintain that normative entities exist in a way that (...) is different from (some) non-normative entities. Moreover, they think that this view about the way normative entities exist helps to answer the metaphysical worries that are often thought to plague non-naturalism. To make sense of this idea, I develop their view as a version of alethic pluralism: the position that there is more than one truth property. I argue, however, that when their view is developed in this way it fails to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality. This shows that on a plausible and initially promising reading of what it takes for a normative entity to exist in a way that is different from non-normative entities, Parfit’s and Scanlon’s non-metaphysical moral realism fails to be more realistic than contemporary versions of anti-realism. (shrink)
The topic of this essay is how non-realistic novels challenge our philosophical understanding of the moral significance of literature. I consider just one case: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I argue that standard philosophical views, based as they are on realistic models of literature, fail to capture the moral significance of this work. I show that Catch-22 succeeds morally because of the ways it resists using standard realistic techniques, and suggest that philosophical discussion of ethics and literature must be pluralistic if it (...) is to include all morally salient literature, and not just novels in the “Great Tradition” and their ilk. (shrink)
Non-reductive moral realism is the view that there are moral properties which cannot be reduced to natural properties. If moral properties exist, it is plausible that they strongly supervene on non-moral properties- more specifically, on mental, social, and biological properties. There may also be good reasons for thinking that moral properties are irreducible. However, strong supervenience and irreducibility seem incompatible. Strong supervenience entails that there is an enormous number of modal truths (specifically, truths about exactly which non-moral properties necessitate which (...) moral properties); and all these modal truths must be explained. If these modal truths can all be explained, then it must be a fundamental truth about the essence of each moral property that the moral property is necessarily equivalent to some property that can be specified purely in mental, social and biological terms; and this fundamental truth appears to be a reduction of the moral property in question. The best way to resist this argument is by resorting to the claim that mental and social properties are not, strictly speaking, natural properties, but are instead properties that can only be analysed in partly normative terms. Acceptance of that claim is the price of non-reductive moral realism. (shrink)
Embodied and extended cognition is a relatively new paradigm within cognitive science that challenges the basic tenet of classical cognitive science, viz. cognition consists in building and manipulating internal representations. Some of the pioneers of embodied cognitive science have claimed that this new way of conceptualizing cognition puts pressure on epistemological and ontological realism. In this paper I will argue that such anti-realist conclusions do not follow from the basic assumptions of radical embodied cognitive science. Furthermore I will show that (...) one can develop a form of realism that reflects rather than just accommodates the core principles of non-representationalist embodied cognitive science. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that physical theories, including quantum mechanics, refer to some kind of ‘objects’, even if only implicitly. We raise questions about the logico-mathematical apparatuses commonly employed in such theories, bringing to light some metaphysical presuppositions underlying such apparatuses. We point out to some incongruities in the discourse holding that quantum objects would be entities of some ‘new kind’ while still adhering to the logico-mathematical framework we use to deal with classical objects. The use of such apparatus (...) would hinder us from being in complete agreement with the ontological novelties the theories of quanta seem to advance. Thus, we join those who try to investigate a ‘logic of quantum mechanics’, but from a different point of view: looking for a formal foundation for a supposed new ontology. As a consequence of this move, we can revisit Einstein’s ideas on physical reality and propose that, by considering a new kind of object traditionally termed ‘non-individuals’, it is possible to sustain that they still obey some of Einstein’s conditions for ‘physical realities’, so that it will be possible to talk of a ‘principle of separability’ in a sense which is not in complete disagreement with quantum mechanics. So, Einstein’s departure from quantum mechanics might be softened at least concerning a form of his realism, which sees separated physical objects as distinct ‘physical realities’. (shrink)
Two arguments are discussed which have been advanced in support of eliminative materialism: the argument from reductionism and the argument from functionalism. It is contended that neither of these arguments is effective if "non-scientific realism" is adopted with regard to commonsense propositional attitude psychology and its embedded notions. "Non-scientific realism," the position that commonsense propositional attitude psychology is an independently legitimate descriptive/explanatory framework, neither in competition with science nor vulnerable to being shown false by science, is defended.
This paper defends a non-reductive realist view of the sensible qualities—roughly, the view that the sensible qualities are really instantiated by the external objects of perception, and not reducible to response-independent physical properties or response-dependent relational properties. I begin by clarifying and motivating the non-reductive realist view. I then consider some familiar difficulties for the view. Addressing these difficulties leads to the development and defence of a general theory, inspired by Russellian Monist theories of consciousness, of how the sensible qualities (...) relate to physical reality. I conclude by showing how this theory, which I call ‘Secondary Quality Russellian Monism’, resolves the most significant difficulties for the non-reductive realist view of the sensible qualities. (shrink)
Many believe that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. I maintain that there are sui generis objective ethical facts that do not reduce to natural or supernatural facts. On my view, objective morality does not require an external foundation of any kind. After explaining my view, I defend it against a variety of objections posed by William Wainwright, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland.
A general insight of 20th-century philosophy of science is that the acceptance of a scientific theory is grounded, not merely on a theory's relation to data, but on its status as having no, or being superior to its, competitors. I explore the ways in which scientific realists might be thought to utilise this insight, have in fact utilised it, and can legitimately utilise it. In more detail, I point out that, barring a natural but mistaken characterisation of scientific realism, traditional (...) realism has not utilised that insight regarding scientific theories, i.e., has not explicitly factored that insight into, and invoked it as justification for, what realists believe. Nonetheless, a new form of realism has. In response to a key historical threat, two of the most thoroughly developed contemporary versions of realism—one put forward by Jarrett Leplin, another by Stathis Psillos—are anchored on the sensible tactic of requiring that the theories to which realists commit themselves have no competitors. I argue, however, that the particular kind of non-competitor condition they invoke is illegitimate in the context of the realism debate. I contend further that invoking a non-competitor condition that is legitimate, sensible, and even, as it turns out, required in the context of the debate threatens to eliminate the possibility of scientific realism altogether. (shrink)
According to non-conceptualist interpretations, Kant held that the application of concepts is not necessary for perceptual experience. Some have motivated non-conceptualism by noting the affinities between Kant's account of perception and contemporary relational theories of perception. In this paper I argue (i) that non-conceptualism cannot provide an account of the Transcendental Deduction and thus ought to be rejected; and (ii) that this has no bearing on the issue of whether Kant endorsed a relational account of perceptual experience.
Non-Relational Realism is a popular solution to the Bradleyan regress of facts or truths. It denies that there is a relational universal of exemplification; for an object a to exemplify a universal F-ness, on this view, is not for a relation to subsist between a and F-ness. An influential objection to Non-Relational Realism is that it is unacceptably obscure. The author argues that Non-Relational Realism can be understood as a selective application of satisfaction semantics to predicates like ‘exemplify’, and that (...) so understood, it is not obscure. This kind of selective use of satisfaction semantics may be feasible in other contexts as a means of making theories more parsimonious. (shrink)
Abstracts The aim of the paper is to propose an alternative model to realist and non-cognitive explanations of the rule-guided use of thick ethical concepts and to examine the implications that may be drawn from this and similar cases for our general understanding of rule-following and the relation between criteria of application, truth and correctness. It addresses McDowell’s non-cognitivism critique and challenges his defence of the entanglement thesis for thick ethical concepts. Contrary to non-cognitivists, however, I propose to view the (...) relation between the two terms of the entanglement as resulting from the satisfaction of a previously applied moral function. This is what I call a “Three-Fold Model”. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to convince anti-realists that their correct intuitions against the metaphysical inflationism derived from some versions of mathematical realism do not force them to embrace non-standard, epistemic approaches to truth and existence. It is also an attempt to convince mathematical realists that they do not need to implement their perfectly sound and judicious intuitions with the anti-intuitive developments that render full-blown mathematical realism into a view which even Gödel considered objectionable. I will argue for the following (...) two theses: that realism, in its standard characterization, is our default position, a position in agreement with our pre-theoretical intuitions and with the results of our best semantic theories, and that most of the metaphysical qualms usually related to it depends on a poor understanding of truth and existence as higher-order concepts. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to convince anti-realists that their correct intuitions against the metaphysical inflationism derived from some versions of mathematical realism do not force them to embrace non-standard, epistemic approaches to truth and existence. It is also an attempt to convince mathematical realists that they do not need to implement their perfectly sound and judicious intuitions with the anti-intuitive developments that render full-blown mathematical realism into a view which even Gödel considered objectionable.I will argue for the following two (...) theses: that realism, in its standard characterization, is our default position, a position in agreement with our pre-theoretical intuitions and with the results of our best semantic theories, and that most of the metaphysical qualms usually related to it depends on a poor understanding of truth and existence as higher-order concepts.Este artículo es un intento de convencer a los antirrealistas de que sus correctas intuiciones en contra del inflacionismo metafísico derivado de algunas versiones del realismo matemático no les obligan a abrazar aproximaciones epistémicas no estándar a la verdad y la existencia. Es también un intento de convencer a los realistas matemáticos de que no necesitan aplicar sus intuiciones, perfectamente correctas y juiciosas, a los antiintuitivos desarrollos que hacen del realismo matemático pleno una visión que el propio Gödel consideró objetable Argumentaré a favor de las dos tesis siguientes: que el realismo, en su caracterización estándar, es nuestra posición por defecto, una posición de acuerdo con nuestras intuiciones pre-teóricas y con los resultados de nuestras mejores teorías semánticas; y que la mayor parte de los escrúpulos metafísicos habitualmente relacionados con él dependen de una pobre comprensión de la verdad y la existencia en tanto que conceptos de orden superior. (shrink)
It was something of a dogma for much of the twentieth century that one cannot validly derive an ought from an is. More generally, it was held that non-normative propositions do not entail normative propositions. Call this thesis about the relation between the natural and the normative Natural-Normative Autonomy. The denial of Autonomy involves the entanglement of the natural with the normative. Naturalism entails entanglement—in fact it entails the most extreme form of entanglement—but entanglement does not entail naturalism. In a (...) ground-breaking paper “The autonomy of ethics” Arthur Prior constructed some intriguing counterexamples to Autonomy. While his counterexamples have convinced few, there is little agreement on what is wrong with them. I present a new analysis of Autonomy, one which is grounded in a general and independently plausible account of subject matters. While Prior’s arguments do establish shallow natural-normative entanglement, this is a consequence of simple logical relationships that hold between just about any two subject matters. It has nothing special to do with the logical structure of normativity or its relation to the natural. Prior’s arguments leave the fundamental idea behind natural-normative Autonomy intact. I offer a new argument for deep entanglement. I show that in any framework adequate for dealing with the natural and the normative spheres, a purely natural proposition entails a purely normative proposition, and vice-versa. But this is no threat to non-naturalist moral realism. In fact it helps ameliorate the excesses of an extreme non-naturalism, delivering a more palatable and plausible position. (shrink)
In what follows, I will first try to show that both anti-realist and realist intensionalist truthconditional accounts of internal metafictional sentences (i.e., sentences of the form "in the story S, p") are unsatisfactory. Moreover, I will claim that this does not mean that propositional truthconditional accounts of those sentences are to be dispensed with; simply, one has to provide a non-intensionalist propositional truthconditional account of those sentences. Finally, I will show that this account is fully compatible with a realist interpretation (...) of those sentences' truthconditions according to which at least some of those sentences commit one to fictional entities. (shrink)
In this paper, by suggesting a formal representation of science based on recent advances in logic-based Artificial Intelligence (AI), we show how three serious concerns around the realisation of traditional scientific realism (the theory/observation distinction, over-determination of theories by data, and theory revision) can be overcome such that traditional realism is given a new guise as ‘naturalised’. We contend that such issues can be dealt with (in the context of scientific realism) by developing a formal representation of science based on (...) the application of the following tools from Knowledge Representation: the family of Description Logics, an enrichment of classical logics via defeasible statements, and an application of the preferential interpretation of the approach to Belief Revision. (shrink)
The scientific realism debate has now reached an entirely new level of sophistication. Faced with increasingly focused challenges, epistemic scientific realists have appropriately revised their basic meta-hypothesis that successful scientific theories are approximately true: they have emphasized criteria that render realism far more selective and, so, plausible. As a framework for discussion, I use what I take to be the most influential current variant of selective epistemic realism, deployment realism. Toward the identification of new case studies that challenge this form (...) of realism, I break away from the standard list and look to the history of celestial mechanics, with an emphasis on twentieth century advances. I then articulate two purely deductive arguments that, I argue, properly capture the historical threat to realism. I contend that both the content and form of these novel challenges seriously threaten selective epistemic realism. I conclude on a positive note, however, arguing for selective realism at a higher level. Even in the face of threats to its epistemic tenet, scientific realism need not be rejected outright: concern with belief can be bracketed while nonetheless advocating core realist tenets. I show that, in contrast with epistemic deployment realism, a purely axiological scientific realism can account for key scientific practices made salient in my twentieth century case studies. And embracing the realists favored account of inference, inference to the best explanation, while pointing to a set of the most promising alternative selective realist meta-hypothesis, I show how testing the latter can be immensely valuable to our understanding of science. (shrink)
In this module I set out the Moral Non-Naturalism of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā as a version of Deontology that defines duty in terms of its beneficent properties. It elucidates the scheme of right living according to ordinance or command. Whereas natural accounts of moral terms suffer from circularity (by merely re-naming of a natural property with a moral term, which then serves to justify its moral appraisal), proponents of Mīmāṃsā defend their position by offering the Vedas as constituting independent evidence about (...) what yields goodness. In some ways, the argument provided by the defenders of Mīmāṃsā prefigure Moore's complaint of the Naturalistic Fallacy, but the Mīmāṃsā approach doesn't claim that defining natural properties by ethical terms is a fallacy: it is simply circular. (shrink)
The rift which has long divided the philosophical world into opposed schools-the "Continental" school owing its origins to the phenomenology of Husserl and the "analytic" school derived from Frege-is finally closing.