The Limits of Realism

Paperback | July 22, 2015

byTim Button

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Tim Button explores the relationship between words and world; between semantics and scepticism. A certain kind of philosopher - the external realist - worries that appearances might be radically deceptive; we might all, for example, be brains in vats, stimulated by an infernal machine. Butanyone who entertains the possibility of radical deception must also entertain a further worry: that all of our thoughts are totally contentless. That worry is just incoherent. We cannot, then, be external realists, who worry about the possibility of radical deception. Equally, though, we cannot beinternal realists, who reject all possibility of deception. We must position ourselves somewhere between internal realism and external realism, but we cannot hope to say exactly where. We must be realists, for what that is worth, and realists within limits. In establishing these claims, Buttoncritically explores and develops several themes from Hilary Putnam's work: the model-theoretic arguments; the connection between truth and justification; the brain-in-vat argument; semantic externalism; and conceptual relativity. The Limits of Realism establishes the continued significance of these topics for all philosophers interested in mind, logic, language, or the possibility of metaphysics.

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Tim Button explores the relationship between words and world; between semantics and scepticism. A certain kind of philosopher - the external realist - worries that appearances might be radically deceptive; we might all, for example, be brains in vats, stimulated by an infernal machine. Butanyone who entertains the possibility of radica...

Tim Button completed his PhD in Cambridge. From 2010 to 2012 he was a research fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge. In 2012, he was appointed to the position of University Lecturer at Cambridge, where he remains a fellow of St John's. He has also recently been a visiting scholar at the University of Texas Austin, and a visiting fe...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.61 inPublished:July 22, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198744129

ISBN - 13:9780198744122

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Table of Contents

A External realism1. The picture of external realism2. The model-theoretic arguments3. Attempts to constrain reference4. The just-more-theory manoeuvre5. Empiricism and empirical content6. Sceptical veils of various fabrics7. From Cartesian to Kantian angstB The tenacity of Cartesian angst8. How the serpent entered Eden9. Nonrealism10. Natural realism11. JustificationismC Dissecting brains in vats12. Putnam's brain-in-vat argument13. The resilience of the brain-in-vat argument14. Davidson's Cogito15. Vat variations16. Mitigated aporiaD Realism within limits17. Semantic externalism18. Conceptual relativism19. Conceptual cosmopolitanismAppendicesI. Model theory primerII. Fitch-style reasoningBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The clear, insightful, but rather innocent, analysis of Putnam's views on internal and external realism is suddenly turned into a subtle and subversive critique of fashionable metametaphysical positions." --Lieven Decock, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 07/01/2014