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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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Mitigated aporia

Mitigated aporia

(p.161) 16 Mitigated aporia
The Limits of Realism

Tim Button

Oxford University Press

The scenarios of Chapter 15 induce a state of aporia: a (metalevel) scepticism about our ability to answer Cartesian scepticism. This is similar to the state of aporia that can be induced by considering trolley problems in ethics. A second ethical connection can be drawn, by considering ways in which brain-in-vat scenarios can leave their victims utterly lacking in ethical concepts. The moral is that our intuitions—metaphysical, semantic, epistemological, and ethical—carry us some distance in our response to scepticism, but they only carry us far. Since the reaction to Cartesian scepticism determines the location of a position on the realist spectrum—with external realism at one pole and internal realism at the other—there is very little to say about where to position oneself on that spectrum. This chapter concludes by criticising recent neo-Carnapian attacks on metaphysics, since neo-Carnapianism amounts to internal realism.

Keywords:   putnam’s brain-in-vat argument, cartesian scepticism, metaphysical intuitions, semantic intuitions, epistemological intuitions, ethical intuitions, trolley problems, mitigated aporia, neo-Carnapian metaontology

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