Semantic Realism

Review of Metaphysics 48 (3):511 - 538 (1995)
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Abstract

MICHAEL DEVITT HAS ARGUED that Michael Dummett unsuccessfully attacks realism because Dummett does not address the traditional, and perhaps more interesting, doctrines that have been called by the name "realism." Dummett will balk at the charge that his writings on realism, truth, and the theory of meaning do not bear on the traditional metaphysical issues of realism. Indeed, he thinks that his most singular philosophical achievement has been showing that different realisms have a common characteristic: each involves the claim that the principle of bivalence holds for the relevant class of statements. Since he thinks that bivalence holds for a class of statements just in case those statements possess truth-conditions which transcend their conditions of verification, and since he thinks that the meanings of statements are either their truth-conditions or their conditions of verification, Dummett thinks he has succeeded in transforming persistently thorny questions of metaphysics into more tractable questions of meaning. His argument against realism, then, centers on his critique of truth-conditional semantics.

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Scott Shalkowski
University of Leeds

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