Naturalism - the thesis that all facts are natural facts, that is the facts that can be recognised and explained by a natural science - plays a central role in contemporary analytical philosophy. Yet many philosophers reject the claims of naturalism. The essays in this anthology explore the difficulties of naturalism by revealing the ambiguities surrounding it, as well as the tensions that exist among its critics.
Three issues have preoccupied Dummett: a distinction between realism and antirealism; the idea of a theory of meaning for a language L; and the nature of analytic philosophy. All three appear here, but in different measures. While Dummett's conception of philosophy plays a large role, it receives little discussion, and his remarks on related questions about thought and language are a nadir of the book. The treatment of realism, which includes Dummett's noted distinction between reductionism and antirealism, is of much (...) greater interest. Dummett's main idea here is to explicate the elusive notion of antirealism as mind-dependence via a logico-semantic criterion involving the failure of bivalence. This is one of the most inspired moves in recent philosophy. The present book, however, hardly works through the consequent problems. Dummett runs aground on counterexamples to his construal of antirealism and himself slides between incompatible interpretations of "realism." Thus I turn to issues about meaning. (shrink)