What are some of the distinctive virtues of the confluence approach that sets it apart from other attempts to do philosophy across cultural boundaries? First, unlike comparing and contrasting, the confluence approach remains faithful to the dominant conception of philosophy as an intellectual enterprise centered on dialogue and argumentation, in which philosophers pursue unresolved problems by building on the achievements of their acknowledged forbears. Second, confluence philosophy implements a syncretic and creative approach to doing philosophy by drawing on non-Western philosophical (...) sources while using the tools and conceptual resources of analytic philosophy. Third and last, the confluence approach highlights possible tensions when the traditions of thought brought into dialogue are on a diverging path on certain matters. Contemporary philosophy, at least in the Anglophone world and its satellites, is an avowedly secular enterprise, deferring to the sciences for its account of what can be said to exist at the most fundamental level and for its understanding of the processes that realize cognition. Buddhism at its core is often understood as a soteriological project manly concerned with overcoming suffering, which sometimes is taken to entail an insight into the emptiness of all the constitutive elements of existence and/or experience. Confluence philosophy thus makes it possible to ask whether defending a theoretical framework which affirms this truth of emptiness means that one must engage in the very sort of activity, namely, rational self-assertion, that hinders enlightenment. (shrink)
Best known for his groundbreaking and influential work in Buddhist philosophy, Mark Siderits is the pioneer of “fusion” or “confluence philosophy", a boldly systematic approach to doing philosophy premised on the idea that rational reconstruction of positions in one tradition in light of another can sometimes help address perennial problems and often lead to new and valuable insights. -/- Exemplifying the many virtues of the confluence approach, this collection of essays covers all core areas of Buddhist philosophy, as well as (...) topics and disputes in contemporary Western philosophy relevant to its study. They consider in particular the ways in which questions concerning personal identity figure in debates about agency, cognition, causality, ontological foundations, foundational truths, and moral cultivation. Most of these essays engage Siderits’ work directly, building on his pathbreaking ideas and interpretations. Many deal with issues that have become a common staple in philosophical engagements with traditions outside the West. Their variety and breadth bear testimony to the legacy of Siderits’ impact in shaping the contemporary conversation in Buddhist philosophy and its reverberations in mainstream philosophy, giving readers a clear sense of the remarkable scope of his work. (shrink)
Context: There is still no detailed defence of Goodman’s starmaking constructivism against the objection Boghossian presented in his 2006 book, Fear of Knowledge. Problem: I defend Goodman’s constructivism against the problem of stuff raised by Boghossian, that is, that constructivism requires unconstructed stuff and thus cannot explain all features in the world. Method: I argue that there is a way out for constructivists when they face the problem of stuff. Constructivists can choose to accept a constructivist-friendly worldview and the problem (...) of stuff does not hold in this worldview. Goodman already provides hints for such a worldview in his works. I articulate the worldview in detail and argue that it does not have obvious faults. Results: I show that starmaking constructivism does not have the problem of stuff at least under a certain tenable worldview. Implications: The constructivist-friendly worldview and related novel ideas could be used to defend starmaking constructivism against other objections in Boghossian’s book and is helpful in answering other philosophical questions such as the mind-matter problem and modality. Constructivist content: This article may contribute to reviving Goodman’s starmaking constructivism. (shrink)
This paper draws out and connects two neglected issues in Kant’s conception of a priori knowledge. Both concern topics that have been important to contemporary epistemology and to formal epistemology in particular: knowability and luminosity. Does Kant commit to some form of knowability principle according to which certain necessary truths are in principle knowable to beings like us? Does Kant commit to some form of luminosity principle according to which, if a subject knows a priori, then they can know that (...) they know a priori? I defend affirmative answers to both of these questions, and by considering the special kind of modality involved in Kant’s conceptions of possible experience and the essential completability of metaphysics, I argue that his combination of knowability and luminosity principles leads Kant into difficulty. (shrink)
This article initially presents Ernst Mach's anti-realist or instrumentalist stance that underpin his opposition to atomism and reveal his idea that science should be based totally on objectively observable facts. Then, the details of Mach's phenomenalist arguments which recognize only sensations as real are revealed. Phenomenalist thought is not compatible with the idea of realism, which evaluates unobservable entities such as atom, molecule and quark as mind-independent things. In this context, Mach considers the atom as a thought symbol or a (...) metaphysical fiction. This results in the idea that the existence of matter or entity is not independent of the perceiving minds, which is considered Mach’s subjective idealism. As a result of these arguments, the article argues that it would not be wrong to associate Mach's thoughts with solipsism, a radical form of subjective idealism. -/- Bu makalede ilk olarak Ernst Mach’ın atomun varlığına ilişkin itirazının temelini oluşturan ve bilimin sadece gözlemlenebilir olgulara dayandırılması gerektiği yönündeki düşüncelerini ortaya koyan anti-realist ya da enstrümantalist görüşlerine yer verilmektedir. Ardından Mach’ın enstrümantalist tavrının alt metninde bulunan ve yalnızca duyumları gerçek olarak kabul eden fenomenalist argümanlarının ayrıntıları serimlenecektir. Fenomenalist düşünce atom, molekül ve kuark gibi gözlemlenemeyen varlıkları zihinden bağımsız şeyler olarak değerlendiren realizm düşüncesi ile uyuşmamaktadır. Bu bağlamda yapılan incelemeler, Mach’ın atomu bir düşünce sembolü ya da metafiziksel bir kurgu olarak değerlendirmesine ve dış dünyadaki varlıkların var olmasını, onların bir zihin tarafından duyumsanması koşuluna bağlaması ile sonuçlanmaktadır. Makalede Mach’ın öznel idealizmi olarak ele alabileceğimiz bu argümanlarının radikal bir sonucu olarak onun düşüncelerini solipsizm ile ilişkilendirmenin yanlış olmayacağı sonucuna varılmaktadır. (shrink)
In this paper, we will discuss what is called the “Manifestation Challenge” to semantic realism, which was originally developed by Michael Dummett and has been further refined by Crispin Wright. According to this challenge, semantic realism has to meet the requirement that knowledge of meaning must be publically manifested in linguistic behaviour. In this regard, we will introduce and evaluate John McDowell’s response to this anti-realistic challenge, which was put forward to show that the challenge cannot undermine realism. According to (...) McDowell, knowledge of undecidable sentences’ truth-conditions can be properly manifested in our ordinary practice of asserting such sentences under certain circumstances, and any further requirement will be redundant. Wright’s further objection to McDowell’s response will be also discussed and it will be argued that this objection fails to raise any serious problem for McDowell’s response and that it is an implausible objection in general. (shrink)
A novel solution to the knowability paradox is proposed based on Kant’s transcendental epistemology. The ‘paradox’ refers to a simple argument from the moderate claim that all truths are knowable to the extreme claim that all truths are known. It is significant because anti-realists have wanted to maintain knowability but reject omniscience. The core of the proposed solution is to concede realism about epistemic statements while maintaining anti-realism about non-epistemic statements. Transcendental epistemology supports such a view by providing for a (...) sharp distinction between how we come to understand and apply epistemic versus non-epistemic concepts, the former through our capacity for a special kind of reflective self-knowledge Kant calls ‘transcendental apperception’. The proposal is a version of restriction strategy: it solves the paradox by restricting the anti-realist’s knowability principle. Restriction strategies have been a common response to the paradox but previous versions face serious difficulties: either they result in a knowability principle too weak to do the work anti-realists want it to, or they succumb to modified forms of the paradox, or they are ad hoc. It is argued that restricting knowability to non-epistemic statements by conceding realism about epistemic statements avoids all versions of the paradox, leaves enough for the anti-realist attack on classical logic, and, with the help of transcendental epistemology, is principled in a way that remains compatible with a thoroughly anti-realist outlook. (shrink)
According to what I term the Dependency Thesis, the ability to grasp the concept of the past depends on possession of episodic memory, i.e., the capacity to recollect particular past events. I consider two questions regarding the Dependency Thesis. First, suppose the Dependency Thesis is true. How exactly should we think of the role that episodic memory plays in grasp of the concept of the past? Secondly, is the Dependency Thesis actually true?
We discuss the philosophical implications of formal results showing the con- sequences of adding the epsilon operator to intuitionistic predicate logic. These results are related to Diaconescu’s theorem, a result originating in topos theory that, translated to constructive set theory, says that the axiom of choice (an “existence principle”) implies the law of excluded middle (which purports to be a logical principle). As a logical choice principle, epsilon allows us to translate that result to a logical setting, where one can (...) get an analogue of Diaconescu’s result, but also can disentangle the roles of certain other assumptions that are hidden in mathematical presentations. It is our view that these results have not received the attention they deserve: logicians are unlikely to read a discussion because the results considered are “already well known,” while the results are simultaneously unknown to philosophers who do not specialize in what most philosophers will regard as esoteric logics. This is a problem, since these results have important implications for and promise signif i cant illumination of contem- porary debates in metaphysics. The point of this paper is to make the nature of the results clear in a way accessible to philosophers who do not specialize in logic, and in a way that makes clear their implications for contemporary philo- sophical discussions. To make the latter point, we will focus on Dummettian discussions of realism and anti-realism. Keywords: epsilon, axiom of choice, metaphysics, intuitionistic logic, Dummett, realism, antirealism. (shrink)
Autologos. A dialogue on fundamental logic. - In this dialogue of three dialogue partners, an attempt is made to prove the logical prerequisites of any meaningful dialogue by using transcendental arguments. Among these inescapable logical premises are a semantics as strong as that of modal logic S5, and an epistemic anti-realism.
Ockham is usually considered the first to hold a proper theory of mental language, but Aquinas is willing to call the concept, or the act of intellect by which something is understood, a verbum mentis or “mental word.” This essay explores the sense in which Aquinas regarded concepts as language-like. It argues that Aquinas's understanding of concepts and their objects meant that his application of syntactic and semantic analysis to them did not and could not lead in the direction of (...) theories of mental language as it was conceived by nominalist philosophers. -/- (Version for download here is uncorrected proofs. Please cite from published final version.). (shrink)
The focus of this paper are Dummett's meaning-theoretical arguments against classical logic based on consideration about the meaning of negation. Using Dummettian principles, I shall outline three such arguments, of increasing strength, and show that they are unsuccessful by giving responses to each argument on behalf of the classical logician. What is crucial is that in responding to these arguments a classicist need not challenge any of the basic assumptions of Dummett's outlook on the theory of meaning. In particular, I (...) shall grant Dummett his general bias towards verificationism, encapsulated in the slogan 'meaning is use'. The second general assumption I see no need to question is Dummett's particular breed of molecularism. Some of Dummett's assumptions will have to be given up, if classical logic is to be vindicated in his meaning-theoretical framework. A major result of this paper will be that the meaning of negation cannot be defined by rules of inference in the Dummettian framework. (shrink)
Frederic Stoutland (1982a, 1982b) has argued that a Davidsonian theory of meaning is incompatible with a realist view of truth, on which the truth-conditions of sentences consist of mind-independent states of affairs or concatenations of extra-linguistic objects. In this paper we show that Stoutland’s argument is a failure.
This is a review of Michael Devitt's collection of previously published articles entitled Putting Metaphysics First: Essays on Metaphysics and Epistemology. The review also suggests a new way of formulation the realism/anti-realism contrast on the basis of Devitt's work. This contrast is understood in terms explanatory priority: should we in a given domain begin our theorizing from metaphysics (realism) or semantics (anti-realism)?
The expression conditional fallacy identifies a family of arguments deemed to entail odd and false consequences for notions defined in terms of counterfactuals. The antirealist notion of truth is typically defined in terms of what a rational enquirer or a community of rational enquirers would believe if they were suitably informed. This notion is deemed to entail, via the conditional fallacy, odd and false propositions, for example that there necessarily exists a rational enquirer. If these consequences do indeed follow from (...) the antirealist notion of truth, alethic antirealism should probably be rejected. In this paper we analyse the conditional fallacy from a semantic (i.e. model-theoretic) point of view. This allows us to identify with precision the philosophical commitments that ground the validity of this type of argument. We show that the conditional fallacy arguments against alethic antirealism are valid only if controversial metaphysical assumptions are accepted. We suggest that the antirealist is not committed to the conditional fallacy because she is not committed to some of these assumptions. (shrink)
Three influential forms of realism are distinguished and interrelated: realism about the external world, construed as a metaphysical doctrine; scientific realism about non-observable entities postulated in science; and semantic realism as defined by Dummett. Metaphysical realism about everyday physical objects is contrasted with idealism and phenomenalism, and several potent arguments against these latter views are reviewed. -/- Three forms of scientific realism are then distinguished: (i) scientific theories and their existence postulates should be taken literally; (ii) the existence of unobservable (...) entities posited by our most successful scientific theories is justified scientifically; and (iii) our best current scientific theories are at least approximately true. It is argued that only some form of scientific realism can make proper sense of certain episodes in the history of science. -/- Finally, Dummett’s influential formulation of semantic issues about realism considered. Dummett argued that in some cases, the fundamental issue is not about the existence of entities, but rather about whether statements of some specified class (such as mathematics) have an objective truth value, independently of our means of knowing it. Dummett famously argued against such semantic realism and in favor of anti-realism. The relation of semantic realism to the metaphysical construal of realism and Dummett’s main argument against semantic realism is examined. (shrink)
Two theses are defended: First, that realism is a semantic thesis; second, that religious language ought to be interpreted realistically. The first part from chapter 1 to 4 is concerned with the first thesis, the second part from chapter 5 to 6 with the second. I first give an overview on the subject of realism and antirealism explaining the core problem of the debate that any satisfying interpretation of realism should be able to solve. Then I develop a solution based (...) on Dummetts theory of semantic realism, so that metaphysical problems can be translated into semantic ones. Subsequently I discuss several arguments against this theory and develop my own, improved theory of semantic realism, which is able to resist the critique. Finally, I present and refute two arguments by Dummett intended to show that the semantic interpretation of realism already shows realism to be inconsistent. Having developed these semantic tools, I show how debates in philosophy of religion may be described and classified and how semantic criteria may be used to determine which theory is antirealist and which is not. Finally, I analyse and discuss the arguments in the current debate on religious antirealism and present a few new arguments based on the semantic interpretation of realism, to show the inconsistency of religious antirealism. (shrink)
The topic of this article is the cognitive and semantic status of Michael Dummett’s principle C. According to the principle, if a statement is true, there must be something in virtue of which it is true. The author suggests the interpretation of principle C in terms of the sufficient reason principle as a contemporary, weaker and semantic counterpart of the classical version of the principle. Considerations include such problems as: the distinction between the reason-consequence relationship and cause-effect relationship; the reductionism (...) and justificationism in the context of the realism-antirealism semantic controversy; the reversibility of reason-consequence relationship and the question of a search for ultimate reasons. The author also distinguishes three forms of the sufficient reason principle: metaphysical, ontological and propositional. (shrink)
In the first chapter, we discuss Dummetts idea that the notion of truth arises from the one of the correctness of an assertion. We argue that, in a first-order language, the need of defining truth in terms of the notion of satisfaction, which is yielded by the presence of quantifiers, is structurally analogous to the need of a notion of truth as distinct from the one of correctness of an assertion. In the light of the analogy between predicates in Frege (...) and open formulas in Tarksi, we concentrate on the semantic status of predicates. We register a dual attitude of Dummett towards Freges ascription of reference to predicates. On the one it is needed to endow quantifiers with their appropriate meaning. On the other hand, the introduction of concepts, as semantic correlate of predicates, smuggles a realist flavor in the overall semantic picture. In concluding the excursus (and with it the chapter), we stress Dummetts will of developing a semantic picture free from this realist trait. In the second chapter, we present the idea of a proof-theoretic semantics. As for Frege true sentences denotes the truth-value True, so here closed' (i.e. categorical) valid argumentations denotes proofs. If a language contains implication-like operators, in order to characterize the condition of validity of a closed argumentation one has to introduce a notion of validity applying to open (i.e. hypothetical) argumentations. We argue that this problem is analogous to the one posed by quantifiers in Frege-Tarksis style semantics. That is, implication forces one to introduce notion of validity for argumentations, which is more substantial than the correctness of the assertion of their conclusions. As we saw, the corresponding claim in the truth-based approachthat quantifiers require one to introduce a notion of truth, which is more substantial than the one of an assertion being correctwas the source of realism. Hence, Dummett proposes to reduce the semantic contribution of open argumentations to the one of their closed instances. In the truth-based perspective, this would correspond to the denial of the need of introducing concepts as the semantic correlates of predicates. We argue that Dummetts fear, that an irreducible notion of function (represented by the need of ascribing validity to open argumentations) would lead to realism, turns out to be ill-founded. In the third chapter, we discuss the role played by the notion of truth in the anti-realist account. The notion of truth is what the anti-realist needs to cope with the so-called paradox of deduction. The analysis of the paradox yields to distinguishing between the truth of a sentence and the truth of a sentence being recognized. In terms of these conceptual couple, we reconsider the relationship between truth and assertion in an anti-realist perspective. Grounds are provided for a thesis (which was already advanced in chapter two), according to which the notion of the assertion of a sentence being correct is primarily connected only with the canonical means of establishing a sentence. The possibility of establishing a sentence by indirect means is conceptually dependent on the practice of establishing logical relationship of dependence among sentences. That is, the notion of a closed valid non-canonical argumentation is of any theoretical relevance only in presence of a notion of validity applying to open argumentations. In the fourth chapter, we discuss the possibility of characterizing in the proof-theoretic-semantics a notion of refutation. We develop an original characterization of refutations starting from an informal inductive specification of the condition of refutations of logically complex sentences. A sub-structural logic, called dual-intuitionistic logic, stands to this notion in the same relationship in which intuitionistic logic stands to the notion of proof so far consdered. All notions developed in chapter 2 have their corresponding (dual) ones in the framework developed. In particular, the distinctions canonical/non-canonical and closed/open argumentations. In the refutation based perspective, elimination rules have priority over introductions and the (only) assumption over the (many) conclusions. In the conclusions, we indicate the ingredients that an anti-realist approach to meaning should incorporate, in order to avoid the difficulties we registered. The core of an alternative view is a different conception of the relationship between categorical and hypothetical notions, in which the validity of open argumentations is not reduced to that of their instances, but rather it is directly defined. As a limit case, one would get a notion of validity applying to closed argumentations. (shrink)
The fundamental assumption of Dummett’s and Prawitz’ proof-theoretic justification of deduction is that ‘if we have a valid argument for a complex statement, we can construct a valid argument for it which finishes with an application of one of the introduction rules governing its principal operator’. I argue that the assumption is flawed in this general version, but should be restricted, not to apply to arguments in general, but only to proofs. I also argue that Dummett’s and Prawitz’ project of (...) providing a logical basis for metaphysics only relies on the restricted assumption. (shrink)
In his 1982 book Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke develops a famous argument that purports to show that there are no facts about what we mean by the expressions of our language: ascriptions of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’” or Smith means green by ‘green’”, are according to Kripke’s Wittgenstein neither true nor false. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues for a form of non-factualism about ascriptions of meaning: ascriptions of meaning do not purport to state (...) facts. Define semantic realism to be the view that ascriptions of meaning are apt to be assessed in terms of truth and falsity, and are, at least in some instances, true. Semantic realism, thus defined, is a form of cognitivism about semantic judgement, according to which judgements ascribing meaning express beliefs, states apt for assessment in terms of truth and falsity. Kripke’s Wittgenstein thus argues against semantic realism, and in favour of a form of semantic non-cognitivism.1 En route to semantic non-cognitivism, Kripke’s Wittgenstein argues against dispositionalist theories of meaning, which hold something roughly along the lines of the following: Jones means magpie by “magpie” if and only if Jones is disposed to apply “magpie” to magpies in ideal conditions (where the ideal conditions can be specified in terms that don’t presuppose the notion of meaning, and are such that in those conditions Jones applies “magpie” to a thing if and only if that thing is a magpie). (shrink)
I argue that the standard anti-realist argument from manifestability to intuitionistic logic is either unsound or invalid. Strong interpretations of the manifestability of understanding are falsified by the existence of blindspots for knowledge. Weaker interpretations are either too weak, or gerrymandered and ad hoc. Either way, they present no threat to classical logic.
What is the appropriate notion of truth for sentences whose meanings are understood in epistemic terms such as proof or ground for an assertion? It seems that the truth of such sentences has to be identified with the existence of proofs or grounds, and the main issue is whether this existence is to be understood in a temporal sense as meaning that we have actually found a proof or a ground, or if it could be taken in an abstract, tenseless (...) sense. Would the latter alternative amount to realism with respect to proofs or grounds in a way that would be contrary to the supposedly anti-realistic standpoint underlying the epistemic understanding of linguistic expressions? Before discussing this question, I shall consider reasons for construing linguistic meaning epistemically and relations between such reasons and reasons for taking an anti-realist point of view towards the discourse in question. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with connections between scientific and metaphysical realism. It is not difficult to show that scientific realism, as expounded by Psillos (1999) clearly qualifies as a kind of metaphysical realism in the sense of Putnam (1980). The statement of scientific realism therefore must not only deal with underdetermination and the dynamics of scientific theories but also answer the semantic challenges to metaphysical realism. As will be argued, the common core of these challenges is the proposition that a (...) (metaphysical) realist semantics leads to semantic agnosticism in the sense that we are unable to grasp the proper meanings and referents of our linguistic expressions. Having established this, I will focus more specifically on the question of whether scientific realism—in its state-of-the-art account—has the resources to make reference to scientific concepts intelligible such that the semantic challenges can be answered. (shrink)
This paper continues the work begun by Crispin Wright of identifying, articulating, and explaining the relations between various realist-relevant axes that emerge when it is conceded that any predicate capable of satisfying a small range of platitudes is syntactically and semantically adequate to count as a truth predicate for a discourse. I argue that the fact that a given discourse satisfies the three realist-relevant axes that remain if evidence-transcendent truth and reference to evidence-transcendent facts are ruled out by Dummettian meaning-theoretic (...) considerations is not sufficient for what I have elsewhere called “modest metaphysical realism.” I conclude that mind-independence marks yet another realist-relevant axis and explore the relationships between the proposed mind-independence axis and the realist-relevant axes identified by Wright. (shrink)
The paper is an analysis of main arguments for the so-called global antirealism. The arguments assume that: conformity of opinion, actual or potential, in all domains of discourse does not exist; for this reason objectivity must be interpreted as intersubjectivity; different conceptual schemes are employed to interpret different kinds of data, correspondence theory of truth has to be replaced by means of the so called epistemic theory of truth. The arguments assume also the verificationist theory of meaning and the possibility (...) of reduction of all entities to the ones treated as more basic. The author analyses also the relationships between, on the one hand, contemporary forms antirealism and forms of idealism, and, on the other, between forms of global antirealism and some specific forms of local antirealism. Key words GLOBAL ANTIREALISM, IDEALISM, LOCAL ANTIREALISM. (shrink)
Usually, analytic philosophy is thought of as standing firmly within the tradition of empiricism, but recently attention has been drawn to the strongly Kantian features that have characterized this philosophical movement throughout a considerable part of its history. Those charting the history of early analytic philosophy sometimes point to a more Kantian stream of thought feeding it from both Frege and Wittgenstein, and as countering a quite different stream flowing from the early Russell and Moore. In line with this general (...) assessment, Michael Friedman has pointed to the specifically Kantian features of the approach of Carnap and other members of the Vienna Circle. For Friedman, the positivists should be seen as having emerged from the tradition of late nineteenth-century neo-Kantianism. Although they had explicitly rejected Kant’s analysis of geometric truth and his key concept of the “synthetic a priori” because of dramatic changes within science itself, this move should not be seen as any simple abandonment of Kantianism. Rather, the positivists had redefined the nature of the Kantian a priori, by axiomatizing, relativizing and historicizing it, so as to fit with the results of the contemporary sciences. (shrink)
I argue that there is a distinction to be drawn between two kinds of mental realism, and I draw some lessons for the realism-antirealism debate. Although it is already at hand, the distinction has not yet been drawn clearly. The difference to be shown consists in what realism is about: it may be either about the interpretation of folk psychology, or the ontology of mental entities. I specify the commitment to the fact-stating character of the discourse as the central component (...) of realism about folk psychology, and from this I separate realism about mental entities as an ontological commitment towards them. I point out that the two views are mutually independent, which provides the possibility of considering folk psychology as not being in cognitive competition with scientific psychology. At the end I make a tentative suggestion as to how to interpret the former in order to avoid this conflict. (shrink)
The general tendency or attitude that Dreier 2004 calls creeping minimalism is ramping up in contemporary analytic philosophy. Those who entertain this attitude will take for granted a framework of deflationary or minimal notions – principally semantical1 and ontological – by means of which to analyse problems in different philosophical fields – e.g. theory of truth, metaethics, philosophy of language, the debate on realism and antirealism, etc. Let us call sweeping minimalist the philosopher affected by creeping minimalism. The framework of (...) minimal notions that the sweeping minimalist takes for granted encompasses, for instance, the concept of truth, reference, proposition, fact, individual, and property. Minimal notions are characterized in terms of general platitudinous principles expressed by schemata like the following (cf.: 26): ‘S’ is true if and only if S; ‘S’ is true if and only if ‘S’ corresponds to the facts; a has the property of being P if and only if a is P. Where ‘S’ and ‘a is P’ stand for sentences satisfying superficial constraints of truth-aptitude (i.e. sentences in declarative form subject to communally acknowledged standards of proper use), and.. (shrink)
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)
This is an introduction to Michael Dummett’s philosophy. Unlike other books on Dummett, this work considers the historical development of his philosophical thought: 1) Dummett in Oxford in the Fifties; 2) the discovery of Frege and the context principle; 3) a critique of realism in 1959; 4) theories of meaning; 5) truth-conditional, realist theories of meaning; 6) justificationist theories of meaning; 7) philosophy of time; 8) philosophy, science and religion; 9) Chronology of life and work; 10) History of the reception (...) of Dummett’s philosophy; 11) Bibliography. (shrink)
I will discuss those epistemic accounts of truth that say, roughly and at least, that the truth is what all ideally rational people, with maximum evidence, would in the long run come to believe. They have been defended on the grounds that they can solve sceptical problems that traditional accounts cannot surmount, and that they explain the value of truth in ways that traditional (and particularly, minimal) accounts cannot; they have been attacked on the grounds that they collapse into idealism. (...) I show that all these claims are mistaken. The system of statements accepted by an adherent of an epistemic account who also accepts the equivalence scheme is the same as that accepted by an adherent of a traditional account who also accepts a remarkably strong thesis of epistemic optimism. The singling out of one rather than another claim within this system as defining 'true' cannot make as much difference as to imply idealism or refute scepticism. However, it can make all the difference when it is a matter of explaining the value of truth. For a crucial point in such explanation depends on what can be soundly substituted for what in intensional contexts; above all those governed by such verbs as 'know', 'hope', 'believe', 'value'. That is, it depends on what expressions are intensionally equivalent. And one point of singling out one formulation as definitional can be to settle just this. But though some epistemic theorists have deemed ability to explain the value of truth a merit of their account (and lack of this ability a fatal defect of traditional accounts, of minimal accounts in particular), it turns out that minimal accounts of 'true' fit a sound account of our valuing of truth in a way that epistemic accounts do not. In the course of this argument I rebut related positions: e.g. Dummett's, that minimal definitions fail because they cannot account for the point of having a notion of truth, and that an account of the practice of assertion is what would fill this lacuna. I argue to the contrary that if the point of the notion could not be explained on the basis of a traditional definition, it could not be explained at all. (shrink)
Anti-realists typically contend that truth is epistemically constrained. Truth, they say, cannot outstrip our capacity to know. Some anti-realists are also willing to make a further claim: if truth is epistemically constrained, classical logic is to be given up in favour of intuitionistic logic. Here we shall be concerned with one argument in support of this thesis - Crispin Wright's Basic Revisionary Argument, first presented in his Truth and Objectivity. We argue that the reasoning involved in the argument, if correct, (...) validates a parallel argument that leads to conclusions that are unacceptable to classicists and intuitionists alike. (shrink)
Brogaard and Salerno (2005, Nous, 39, 123–139) have argued that antirealism resting on a counterfactual analysis of truth is flawed because it commits a conditional fallacy by entailing the absurdity that there is necessarily an epistemic agent. Brogaard and Salerno's argument relies on a formal proof built upon the criticism of two parallel proofs given by Plantinga (1982, "Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association", 56, 47–70) and Rea (2000, "Nous," 34, 291–301). If this argument were conclusive, antirealism resting (...) on a counterfactual analysis of truth should probably be abandoned. I argue however that the antirealist is not committed to a controversial reading of counterfactuals presupposed in Brogaard and Salerno's proof, and that the antirealist can in principle adopt an alternative reading that makes this proof invalid. My conclusion is that no reductio of antirealism resting on a counterfactual analysis of truth has yet been provided. (shrink)
Dummett has recently presented his most mature and sophisticated version of justificationism, i.e. the view that meaning and truth are to be analysed in terms of justifiability. In this paper, I argue that this conception does not resolve a difficulty that also affected Dummett’s earlier version of justificationism: the problem that large tracts of the past continuously vanish as their traces in the present dissipate. Since Dummett’s justificationism is essentially based on the assumption that the speaker has limited (i.e. non-idealized) (...) cognitive powers, no further refinement of this position is likely to settle the problem of the vanishing past. (shrink)
The paper identifies two major strands of truth theories, ontological and epistemological ones, and argues that both are of equal primacy and find their home within two-dimensional semantics. Contrary to received views, it argues further that epistemological truth theories operate on Lewisian possible worlds and ontological truth theories on Wittgensteinian possible worlds and that both are mediated by the so-called epistemic-ontic map the further specification of which is of utmost philosophical importance.
In order to shed light on the question of whether reliabilism entails or excludes certain kinds of truth theories, I examine two arguments that purport to establish that reliabilism cannot be combined with antirealist and epistemic theories of truth. I take antirealism about truth to be the denial of the recognition-transcendence of truth, and epistemic theories to be those that identify truth with some kind of positive epistemic status. According to one argument, reliabilism and antirealism are incompatible because the former (...) takes epistemic justification to be recognition-transcendent in a certain sense that conflicts with the latter's denial of the recognition-transcendence of truth. I show that, because the recognition-transcendence of reliabilist justification is significantly weaker than the recognition-transcendence required by a realist conception of truth, antirealist theories of truth that deny the strong transcendence of truth do not threaten the externalist character of reliabilism. According to the second argument, reliabilism cannot be combined with an epistemic truth theory because reliabilists analyze positive epistemic status in terms of truth but epistemic theorists analyze truth in terms of positive epistemic status. However, I argue that reliabilists who wish to adopt an epistemic theory of truth can avoid circularity by appealing to a multiplicity of positive epistemic statuses. (shrink)