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The Limits of Realism$
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Tim Button

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672172

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672172.001.0001

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Natural realism

Natural realism

(p.82) 10 Natural realism
The Limits of Realism

Tim Button

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Putnam’s more recent natural realism. Natural realism has many points of contact with McDowell’s line of thought in Mind and World. In particular, it utterly rejects the bracketed empiricist approach to ’understanding’ that is characteristic of nonrealism. Moreover, it attempts to avoid the problems raised by the model-theoretic arguments by tackling Cartesian angst head-on. This is an excellent strategy. Unfortunately, natural realism attempts to tackle Cartesian angst by embracing naïve realism about perception. It is therefore unable to deal adequately with Cartesian scepticism. This is a crucial failing, since Cartesian angst is all that is needed to feed the machine of the model-theoretic arguments and the just-more-theory manoeuvre. The discussion of philosophy of perception turns out to be a red herring in the present context.

Keywords:   putnam’s natural realism, putnam’s second naïvete, naïve realism about perception, direct realism about perception, disjunctivism, cartesian scepticism, mcDowell’s mind and world

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