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Knowledge and RealitySelected Essays$
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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251582

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199251584.001.0001

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Realist Semantics and Content‐Ascription

Realist Semantics and Content‐Ascription

Chapter:
(p.279) 14 Realist Semantics and Content‐Ascription
Source:
Knowledge and Reality
Author(s):

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199251584.003.0015

McGinn's target is again Dummettian anti‐realism; this time he argues that Dummett's criticism of realist semantics rests on a questionable theory of content‐ascription. McGinn develops four Twin Earth cases (one of which prefigures Putnam's ‘brain in a vat’) designed to show that, contra Dummett, content is not determined by use (where ‘use’ is understood as ‘the exercise of recognitional capacities in respect of assertability conditions’). But if use does not exhaust content, McGinn argues, then from the fact that verification‐transcendent truth conditions are not present in linguistic use, it does not follow that reality cannot be represented in our sentences.

Keywords:   anti‐realism, brain in a vat, content‐ascription, Dummett, linguistic use, meaning, mental content, propositional attitudes, Putnam, realism, recognitional capacity, Twin Earth

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