Replies to Essays

  • Michael Dummett
Part of the Nijhoff International Philosophy Series book series (NIPS, volume 25)


Crispin Wright’ interesting essay examines, and throws useful light on, fundamental issues concerning realism. What first interested me in this subject was a perception of strong analogies between a variety of metaphysical disputes, each of which could be regarded as a dispute over the correctness of a realist view of a certain subject-matter. Often one may say, ‘of certain things’ (metal processes, material objects, mathematical entities); but disputes concerning the reality of the future or the past could harldly be so described, and it thus seemed better to say ‘of certain statements’. I never supposed that a precise analogy obtained between any two of these disputes, only that there was a sufficient analogy to make a comparative study of them fruitful. One of the points of analogy was the salient role that the principle of bivalence frequently played. The colourless term ‘anti-realism’ was deliberately chosen because, although there was a family resemblance between the arguments employed by the opponents of realism concerning different subject-matters - different classes of statments - the metaphysical character of their conclusions different markedly. The phenomenalist opponent of realism concerning the physical universe adopted a form of idealism; the behaviourist opponent of realism concerning mental states and processes gave comfort to materialism.


Semantic Theory Black People Logical Constant Elimination Rule Card Game 
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  1. 1.
    Above, p.73.Google Scholar
  2. 2a.
    In Gareth Evans and John McDowell (ed.), Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1976)Google Scholar
  3. 2b.
    at p.37. (See also the reprint of this paper in Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1984), at p.175.)Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Ibid., p.41; or the reprint in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, at p.179.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Dialectica 27 (1973) P-325; or see the reprint in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation, p.138.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1975), pp.97–138.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    See above, p.42.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Op.cit., n.4 above, p.327; or p.139 of the reprint in Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Above, p.42.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Loc. cit., n.2 above.Google Scholar
  11. 1a.
    Frege: Philosophy of Language (Duckworth, London, 1973), p.227Google Scholar
  12. 1b.
    Gareth Evans, Varieties of Reference (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1982), p.26.Google Scholar
  13. 2.
    Evans,ibid. pp.33–35.Google Scholar
  14. 3.
    Dialectica 31 (1977) pp.247–53; reprinted as Essay 15 in Donald Davidson, Inquiries into Meaning and Interpretation (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1984).Google Scholar
  15. 4.
    See ‘What is a Theory of Meaning (I)’ in Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1975), at p.128; and McDowell, above p.71.Google Scholar
  16. 5.
    ‘What is a Theory of Meaning (I)’, p.127.Google Scholar
  17. 6.
    Evans, op.cit. n.1 above, p.18.Google Scholar
  18. 7.
    In Guttenplan (ed.), op.cit. n.4 above; at p.13.Google Scholar
  19. 8.
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society lix (1959), pp.141–62, and variously reprinted (see Bibliography for this volume).Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    Essay 2 in W.V.O. Quine, From a Logical Point of View (2nd edition; Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., 1964).Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

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  • Michael Dummett

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