Skip to main content

An Argument For Metaphysical Realism

Abstract

This paper presents an argument for metaphysical realism, understood as the claim that the world has structure that would exist even if our cognitive activities never did. The argument is based on the existence of a structured world at a time when it was still possible that we would never evolve. But the interpretation of its premises introduces subtleties: whether, for example, these premises are to be understood as assertions about the world or about our evidence, internally or externally, via assertibility conditions or truth conditions – and what sorts of beings are included in the `we' upon whose cognitions the antirealist supposes the structure of the world to depend. I argue that antirealism can provide no defensible, fully articulated interpretation of the premises that either shows them not to be true or defeats the reasoning.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  1. Blattner, William D.: 1999, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Carnap, Rudolf: 1969, The Logical Structure of the World & Pseudoproblems in Philosophy, Rolf A. George, trans. University of California Press, Berkeley.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chalmers, David J.: 1996, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Conant, James, ed.: 1990, Realism with a Human Face, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Devitt, Michael: 1984, Realism and Truth, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Dummett, Michael: 1979, Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Goodman, Nelson: 1980, 'On Starmaking', Synthese 45, 211–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Goodman, Nelson: 1966, The Structure of Appearance, 2nd ed., Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Glazebrook, Trish: 2001, 'Heidegger and Scientific Realism', Continental Philosophy Review 34, 4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Heidegger, Martin: 1961, An Introduction to Metaphysics, Ralph Manheim, trans., Doubleday, Garden City, NY.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Heidegger, Martin: 1962, Being and Time, John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, trans. Harper & Row, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Heidegger, Martin: 1969, The Essence of Reasons (bilingual edition), Terrence Malik, trans., Northwestern University Press, Evanston.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Horwich, Paul: 1994, ed., Theories of Truth, Dartmouth, Aldershot, England

    Google Scholar 

  14. Lewis, David: 1973, Counterfactuals, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Nietzsche, Friedrich: 1967, The Will to Power, Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale, trans., Vintage Books, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Putnam, Hilary: 1981, Reason, Truth and History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Putnam, Hilary: 1983, Realism and Reason: Philosophical Papers, vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Putnam, Hilary: 1990, 'A Defense of Internal Realism,' in Conant [1990].

  19. Putnam, Hilary: 1994a, 'The Face of Cognition', Journal of Philosophy 91(9), 488–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Putnam, Hilary: 1994b, 'Realism and Reason', in Horwich [1994]

  21. Quine, W. V.: 1969, 'Epistemology Naturalized' in Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, Columbia University Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ramsey, Frank Plumpton: 1950, The Foundations Of Mathematics And Other Logical Essays, R. B. Braithwaite, ed., Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Rorty, Richard: 1995, 'Response to Farrell' in Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr. (ed.), Rorty and Pramatism: The Philosopher Responds to His Critics, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, pp. 191–2.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Russell, Bertrand: 1981, 'The Relation of Sense Data to Physics,' in Mysticism and Logic, Barnes & Noble, Totowa, New Jersey, pp. 110–11.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Sellars, Wilfrid: 1956, 'Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind', in Foundations of Science and the Concepts of Psychology and Psychoanalysis, Herbert Feigl and Michael Scriven (eds.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. I University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 253–329.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nolt, J. An Argument For Metaphysical Realism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 35, 71–90 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JGPS.0000035149.31235.79

Download citation

  • antirealism
  • metaphysics
  • realism