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The Limits of Realism

Oxford University Press UK (2013)

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  1. Categoricity by convention.Julien Murzi & Brett Topey - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3391-3420.
    On a widespread naturalist view, the meanings of mathematical terms are determined, and can only be determined, by the way we use mathematical language—in particular, by the basic mathematical principles we’re disposed to accept. But it’s mysterious how this can be so, since, as is well known, minimally strong first-order theories are non-categorical and so are compatible with countless non-isomorphic interpretations. As for second-order theories: though they typically enjoy categoricity results—for instance, Dedekind’s categoricity theorem for second-order PA and Zermelo’s quasi-categoricity (...)
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  • Truth Without Dependence.Robert Trueman - 2022 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 96 (1):89-121.
    According to the Dependency Theory, truth asymmetrically depends on the world, in the following sense: true propositions are true because the world makes them true. The Dependency Theory strikes many philosophers as incontrovertible, but in this paper I reject it. I begin by presenting a problem for the Dependency Theory. I then develop an alternative to the Dependency Theory which avoids that problem. This alternative is an immodest Identity Theory of Truth, and I end the paper by responding to Dodd’s (...)
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  • Mill's Antirealism.Christopher Macleod - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):261-279.
    One of Mill's primary targets, throughout his work, is intuitionism. In this paper, I distinguish two strands of intuitionism, against which Mill offers separate arguments. The first strand, a priorism, makes an epistemic claim about how we come to know norms. The second strand, ‘first principle pluralism’, makes a structural claim about how many fundamental norms there are. In this paper, I suggest that one natural reading of Mill's argument against first principle pluralism is incompatible with the naturalism that drives (...)
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  • Response to My CRITICS.Jan Westerhoff - 2022 - Analysis 82 (1):143-158.
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  • Reality in Perspectives.Mahdi Khalili - 2022 - Dissertation, VU University Amsterdam
    This dissertation is about human knowledge of reality. In particular, it argues that scientific knowledge is bounded by historically available instruments and theories; nevertheless, the use of several independent instruments and theories can provide access to the persistent potentialities of reality. The replicability of scientific observations and experiments allows us to obtain explorable evidence of robust entities and properties. The dissertation includes seven chapters. It also studies three cases – namely, Higgs bosons and hypothetical Ϝ-particles (section 2.4), the Ptolemaic and (...)
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  • The Putnam-Goodman-Kripke Paradox.Robert Kowalenko - forthcoming - Acta Analytica:1-20.
    The extensions of Goodman’s ‘grue’ predicate and Kripke’s ‘quus’ are constructed from the extensions of more familiar terms via a reinterpretation that permutes assignments of reference. Since this manoeuvre is at the heart of Putnam’s model-theoretic and permutation arguments against metaphysical realism, both Goodman’s New Riddle of Induction and the paradox about meaning that Kripke attributes to Wittgenstein are instances of Putnam’s. Evidence cannot selectively confirm the green-hypothesis and disconfirm the grue-hypothesis, because the theory of which the green-hypothesis is a (...)
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  • Bivs, Space and ‘In’.Clare Mac Cumhaill - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (1):369-392.
    I present a novel anti-sceptical BIV argument by focusing on conditions on the production and use of the locative preposition ‘in’. I distinguish two uses of ‘in’—material and descriptive phenomenological—and I explain in what respect movement is central to the concept that our use of ‘in’ expresses. I go on to argue that a functionalist semantics of the intelligible use of ‘in’ demands a materialist philosophy of action in the spirit of G.E.M. Anscombe, but also why the structure of space (...)
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  • Semantic Self-Knowledge and the Vat Argument.Joshua Thorpe - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2289-2306.
    Putnam’s vat argument is intended to show that I am not a permanently envatted brain. The argument holds promise as a response to vat scepticism, which depends on the claim that I do not know that I am not a permanently envatted brain. However, there is a widespread idea that the vat argument cannot fulfil this promise, because to employ the argument as a response to vat scepticism I would have to make assumptions about the content of the premises and/or (...)
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  • The Indeterminacy of the Distinction Between Objects and Ways of Being.Julio De Rizzo - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    Few if any distinctions are more easily recognisable and assented to than that between objects, that is, things which are some ways, and that which they are, that is, ways for objects to be. In this paper I present an argument designed to show that this distinction is indeterminate in the sense that the truth-conditions of predicational sentences leave open what should count as an object and a way of being. The bulk of the argument is inspired by the celebrated (...)
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  • What It Means to Live in a Virtual World Generated by Our Brain.Jan Westerhoff - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):507-528.
    Recent discussions in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind have defended a theory according to which we live in a virtual world akin to a computer simulation, generated by our brain. It is argued that our brain creates a model world from a variety of stimuli; this model is perceived as if it was external and perception-independent, even though it is neither of the two. The view of the mind, brain, and world, entailed by this theory has some peculiar (...)
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  • Semantic Realism, Actually.Simon Hewitt - 2020 - Metaphysica 21 (2):237-254.
    Michael Dummett offered a semantic characterisation of a variety of realism-antirealism debates. This approach has fallen out of fashion. This has been to the detriment of metaphysics. This paper offers an accurate characterisation of Dummett’s view, often lacking in the literature, and then defends it against a range of attacks. This understanding of realism debates is resilient, and if we take it seriously the philosophical terrain looks importantly different. In particular, the philosophy of language has a foundational role with respect (...)
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  • A Sellarsian Transcendental Argument Against External World Skepticism.Marin Geier - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-31.
    This paper investigates the relation between what James Conant has called Kantian and Cartesian varieties of skepticism. It is argued that a solution to the most prominent example of a Kantian variety of skepticism, i.e. Kripkensteinian skepticism about rule-following and meaning, can be found in the works of Wilfrid Sellars. It is then argued that, on the basis of that very same solution to the Kantian problematic of rule-following and meaning, a novel argument against external world skepticism can be formulated. (...)
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  • Non-Naturalism and Reference.Jussi Suikkanen - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 11 (2):1-24.
    Metaethical realists disagree about the nature of normative properties. Naturalists think that they are ordinary natural properties: causally efficacious, a posteriori knowable, and usable in the best explanations of natural and social sciences. Non-naturalist realists, in contrast, argue that they are sui generis: causally inert, a priori knowable and not a part of the subject matter of sciences. It has been assumed so far that naturalists can explain causally how the normative predicates manage to refer to normative properties, whereas non-naturalists (...)
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  • A New Approach to 'Perfect' Hallucinations.Thomas Raleigh - 2014 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (11-12):81-110.
    I consider a new, non-disjunctive strategy for ‘relational’ or ‘naïve realist’ theories to respond to arguments from ‘perfect’ (causally matching) hallucinations. The strategy, in a nutshell, is to treat such hypothetical cases as instances of perception rather than hallucination. After clarifying the form and dialectic of such arguments, I consider three objections to the strategy. I provide answers to the first two objections but concede that the third — based on the possibility of ‘chaotic’ (uncaused) perfect hallucinations — cannot obviously (...)
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  • New Realism as Positive Realism.Maurizio Ferraris - 2014 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy:172-213.
    In this essay I try to give some overall statements in order to show that new realism is to be understood as a kind of positive philosophy. Against constructivism, I argue that there is a prevalence of the objects themselves on our understanding of them because reality offers a resistance to our attempt to grasp it depending on its level of dependence from our own understanding, which is different in the case of natural objects, ideal object and social object. This (...)
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  • The Unattainability of the True World: The Putnamian and Kripkensteinian Interpretation of Nietzsche’s The History of an Error.Henrik Sova - 2016 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 9 (2):1-19.
    In this article I am interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche's piece of writing "How the "True World" finally became a fable - The History of an Error" in the context of 20th-century analytical philosophy of language. In particular, I am going to argue that the main theme in this text - the issue of abolishing "the true world" - can be interpreted as Hilary Putnam's model-theoretic arguments against external realism and Saul Kripke's Wittgensteinian arguments against truth-conditional meaning theories. Interpreting this Nietzsche's text (...)
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  • Structure and Categoricity: Determinacy of Reference and Truth Value in the Philosophy of Mathematics.Tim Button & Sean Walsh - 2016 - Philosophia Mathematica 24 (3):283-307.
    This article surveys recent literature by Parsons, McGee, Shapiro and others on the significance of categoricity arguments in the philosophy of mathematics. After discussing whether categoricity arguments are sufficient to secure reference to mathematical structures up to isomorphism, we assess what exactly is achieved by recent ‘internal’ renditions of the famous categoricity arguments for arithmetic and set theory.
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  • Closure Scepticism and The Vat Argument.Joshua Rowan Thorpe - 2017 - Mind 127 (507):667-690.
    If it works, I can use Putnam’s vat argument to show that I have not always been a brain-in-a-vat. It is widely thought that the vat argument is of no use against closure scepticism – that is, scepticism motivated by arguments that appeal to a closure principle. This is because, even if I can use the vat argument to show that I have not always been a BIV, I cannot use it to show that I was not recently envatted, and (...)
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  • From the Ultimate God to the Virtual God: Post-Ontotheological Perspectives on the Divine in Heidegger, Badiou, and Meillassoux.Jussi Backman - 2014 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy:113-142.
    The Heideggerian account of the ontotheological constitution of Western metaphysics has been extremely influential for contemporary philosophy of religion and for philosophical perspectives on theology and the divine. This paper introduces and contrasts two central strategies for approaching the question of the divine in a non- or post-ontotheological manner. The first and more established approach is that of post-Heideggerian hermeneutics and deconstruction, inspired by Heidegger’s suggestion of a “theology without the word ‘being’” and by his later notions of an “ultimate (...)
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  • Kant, the Paradox of Knowability, and the Meaning of ‘Experience’.Andrew Stephenson - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15 (27):1-19.
    It is often claimed that anti-realism is a form of transcendental idealism or that Kant is an anti-realist. It is also often claimed that anti-realists are committed to some form of knowability principle and that such principles have problematic consequences. It is therefore natural to ask whether Kant is so committed, and if he is, whether this leads him into difficulties. I argue that a standard reading of Kant does indeed have him committed to the claim that all empirical truths (...)
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  • Dreams in a Vat.Danilo Suster - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (2):89-105.
    Putnam’s semantic argument against the BIV hypothesis and Sosa’s argument against dream skepticism based on the imagination model of dreaming share some important structural features. In both cases the skeptical option is supposed to be excluded because preconditions of its intelligibility are not fulfilled (affirmation and belief in the dream scenario, thought and reference in the BIV scenario). Putnam’s reasoning is usually interpreted differently, as a classic case of deception, but this feature is not essential. I propose to interpret BIV’s (...)
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  • Arguing About Realism: Adjudicating the Putnam-Devitt Dispute.Fletcher Jade - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (2):39-53.
    In this paper I want to adjudicate the dispute between those philosophers who do and those who do not think that the philosophy of language can illuminate metaphysical questions. To this end, I take the debate between Devitt and Putnam as a case study and diagnose what I take to be illuminating about their disagreement over metaphysical realism. I argue that both Putnam and Devitt are incorrect in their assessment of the significance of the model theoretic argument for realism. That, (...)
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  • If an Ontologist Could Speak We Couldn’T Understand Him.Simon Hewitt - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):444-460.
    It is common for contemporary ontologists to claim that they are not concerned with what exists simpliciter, but rather with what exists ’fundamentally’, or what ’really’ exists. I argue that positions of this sort cannot satisfy reasonable constraints concerning the acquisition of language. I assess and dismiss possible responses to this complaint before commenting on the prospects for a metaphysics without bespoke existence claims.
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  • Can Semantics Guide Ontology?Katherine Ritchie - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):24-41.
    Since the linguistic turn, many have taken semantics to guide ontology. Here, I argue that semantics can, at best, serve as a partial guide to ontological commitment. If semantics were to be our guide, semantic data and semantic treatments would need to be taken seriously. Through an examination of plurals and their treatments, I argue that there can be multiple, equally semantically adequate, treatments of a natural language theory. Further, such treatments can attribute different ontological commitments to a theory. Given (...)
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  • Deflationary Metaphysics and Ordinary Language.Tim Button - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):33-57.
    Amie Thomasson and Eli Hirsch have both attempted to deflate metaphysics, by combining Carnapian ideas with an appeal to ordinary language. My main aim in this paper is to critique such deflationary appeals to ordinary language. Focussing on Thomasson, I draw two very general conclusions. First: ordinary language is a wildly complicated phenomenon. Its implicit ontological commitments can only be tackled by invoking a context principle; but this will mean that ordinary language ontology is not a trivial enterprise. Second: ordinary (...)
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  • The Dilemma Imposed on the Realist by Putnam's and Kripkensteinian Argument.Henrik Sova - 2017 - Studia Philosophica Estonica 10 (1):62-82.
    In this article, I have two aims. Firstly, I argue that Hilary Putnam's model theoretic indeterminacy argument against external realism and Saul Kripke's so-called Kripkensteinian argument against semantic realism have the same dialectical structure and the same conclusion---both force the opponent to face the same dilemma. Namely: either adopt meaning minimalism or postulate unobservable semantic facts. Secondly, I analyze more closely the first horn of the dilemma---meaning minimalism. This is the position according to which there are no truth conditions for (...)
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