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Truth and Realism$
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Patrick Greenough and Michael P. Lynch

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199288878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288878.001.0001

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Realism: What's Left?

Realism: What's Left?

(p.77) 4 Realism: What's Left?
Truth and Realism
Michael Williams
Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by asking two key questions: what is realism?; and, is there an issue here still worth arguing about? The answer to the first question is minimal or deflationary in spirit: realism is simply the view that most current commonsense and scientific objects exist, and that most claims about such objects are true. Such a view is realist enough: it allows one to avoid classic ‘antirealisms’ (such as idealism), while avoiding the metaphysical extravagancies of the correspondence theory of truth and ‘mind-independent’ existence. The chapter then answers negatively to the second question. It argues that what remains of the realist issue is the question of naturalism; we should be concerned less with what exists mind-independently than with the question of whether (and in what sense) all that exists is natural or physical in character. The discussion is situated within a division between two major camps of philosophers: the neopragmatists and the neo-Cartesians. While both camps reject scepticism and classical robust foundationalism, the neo-Cartesian takes a ‘metaphysics first’ approach and takes realism about truth seriously, while the neo-pragmatist keeps Descartes' epistemological orientation (start reflection by wondering what and how you know) and adopts a deflationary theory of truth.

Keywords:   realism, truth, naturalism, neopragmatists, neo-Cartesians

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