Realism and Antirealism

In Barry C. Smith (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 983 (2006)
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This article questions whether, once the conception of metaphysics as grounded in the philosophy of language has been jettisoned, Dummett's arguments against semantic realism can retain any relevance to the realist/antirealist debate. By focussing on realism about the external world as an example, it reaches the conclusion that even without Dummett's conception of philosophy as grounded in the theory of meaning, his arguments against semantic realism do retain a limited but nevertheless genuine significance for the metaphysical debate. It emerges, though, that a certain key assumption, connecting the notions of linguistic understanding and knowledge, and necessary if Dummett's arguments are to have even this limited significance, is both underexplained and underdefended. The article concludes with some brief remarks on the cogency of the manifestation argument against semantic realism.



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Alexander B. Miller
The Catholic University of America

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