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Title: Semantic Challenges to Realism
Contributor(s): Khlentzos, DM (author)
Publication Date: 2004
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Abstract: According to metaphysical realism, the world is as it is independently of how humans take it to be. The objects the world contains, together with their properties and the relations they enter into, fix the world's nature and these objects exist independently of our ability to discover they do. Unless this is so, realists argue, none of our beliefs about our world could be objectively true since true beliefs tell us how things are and beliefs are objective when true or false independently of what anyone might think. The issue of objectivity affects all of us deeply - when we think the State has an obligation to provide adequate health care to all its citizens we mean to be describing what the State's obligations really are, independently of what anyone might think about the matter. If someone disagrees with us over this matter, we think they've got it wrong - are mistaken about how things are as regards the State and its obligations. If there can be no objectivity without a mind-independent world, as realists claim, then there had better be a mind-independent world.Henceforth, by 'realism' I shall mean metaphysical realism unless otherwise stated. Many philosophers believe realism is just plain common sense. Others believe it to be a direct implication of modern science which paints humans as fallible creatures adrift in an inhospitable world not of their making. Nonetheless, realism is controversial. There are epistemological problems connected with it - how can we obtain knowledge of a mind-independent world? There are also prior semantic problems - how are the links between our beliefs and the mind-independent states of affairs they allegedly represent set up? This is the Representation Problem.
Publication Type: Entry In Reference Work
Source of Publication: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Publisher: Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University
Place of Publication: Stanford, United States of America
Field of Research (FOR): 220309 Metaphysics
HERDC Category Description: N Entry In Reference Work
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