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Faint-hearted Anti-realism and Knowability

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It is often claimed that anti-realists are compelled to reject the inference of the knowability paradox, that there are no unknown truths. I call those anti-realists who feel so compelled ‘faint-hearted’, and argue in turn that anti-realists should affirm this inference, if it is to be consistent. A major part of my strategy in defending anti-realism is to formulate an anti-realist definition of truth according to which a statement is true only if it is verified by someone, at some time. I also liberalize what is meant by a verification to allow for indirect forms of verification. From this vantage point, I examine a key objection to anti-realism, that it is committed to the necessary existence of minds, and reject a response to this problem set forth by Michael Hand. In turn I provide a more successful anti-realist response to the necessary minds problem that incorporates what I call an ‘agential’ view of verification. I conclude by considering what intellectual cost there is to being an anti-realist in the sense I am advocating.

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The author gratefully acknowledges support from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, grant number 410-2006-214. The author also thanks Tim Wyatt for numerous interesting discussions on knowability and an anonymous reviewer for a number of helpful and patient comments.

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Correspondence to Robert G. Hudson.

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Hudson, R.G. Faint-hearted Anti-realism and Knowability. Philosophia 37, 511–523 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-008-9174-0

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  • Knowability
  • Anti-realism
  • Verificationism
  • Truth
  • Michael Hand
  • The Fitch paradox