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Relativism and Reality : A Contemporary Introduction - Robert Kirk

Relativism and Reality

A Contemporary Introduction

Paperback

Published: 24th June 1999
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From the early Greeks to today's leading philosophers, the question of how our beleifs and theories relate to reality has been the cause of much fervent debate. 'Realists' claim that reality is independent of our thinking, even if it is up to us how we think about it. 'Realtivists' disagree and hold that what there is, and the thruth about it, depends on our point of view. Which is right? Is there such a thing as an independent thruth? Can we ever capture it in thought and language?
Relativism and Reality: A contemporary introduction examines these crucial questions in a clear and accessible manner which will appeal to all who come to philosophy for the first time. Robert Kirk examines the thought of some of the most influential thinkers of the century, with discussions of Wittgenstein's ideas on 'language-games', Quine's 'holism', Dummett's 'anti-realism' and Rorty's 'postmodern pragmatism'.
The result is a stimulating guide to fascinating and important theories about the relations between thought and reality and will be essential reading for all who seek a thorough yet accessible introduction to one of the most enduring topics in philosophy.

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Mythsp. 1
Theoriesp. 3
The first atomic theoryp. 5
Can we get it right?p. 9
Planp. 10
Truthp. 15
The sciencesp. 15
The Core Scientific Storyp. 16
Is the Core Scientific Story just another myth?p. 17
What if there are equally good alternatives to the CSS?p. 18
First thoughts about truth: correspondencep. 20
Building up to truthp. 22
Is truth redundant?p. 24
Conceptual autonomyp. 26
Second thoughts about truth: coherencep. 28
Third thoughts about truth: pragmatismp. 31
Relative to us?p. 35
Relativismp. 36
'Truth for me'p. 37
False beliefs and undiscovered truthsp. 39
Is relativism inconsistent?p. 40
Coherence againp. 40
How is disagreement possible?p. 41
How can our statements mean what they do?p. 42
The existence of relativists undermines relativismp. 43
Another awkward questionp. 44
The fundamental trouble with relativismp. 45
All our own work?p. 46
Are colours real?p. 46
More on 'constructing reality'p. 49
'Cosmic porridge'p. 52
Words and world: Wittgensteinp. 56
Wittgensteinp. 56
Undermining an ancient assumptionp. 60
Language-gamesp. 63
Building up to meaning, truth and knowledgep. 65
Meaning, truth and knowledgep. 66
The state of playp. 68
Some difficultiesp. 69
More on rule-followingp. 70
The Odd Adderp. 71
Words and world: Quinep. 74
Quine's naturalismp. 74
Dispositionsp. 75
Quine on language, knowledge and beliefp. 76
Revising beliefsp. 77
Wittgenstein and Quine on science, language and philosophyp. 78
'Posits'p. 79
Quine's holismp. 79
Quine on meaningp. 82
Quine's doctrine of the indeterminacy of translationp. 85
Language-games v. realismp. 90
Realism, instrumentalism, anti-realismp. 90
Other varietiesp. 94
The 'language-game' argument for anti-realismp. 97
Failure of the language-game argumentp. 101
Is rationality relative?p. 103
Foundations for knowledge?p. 109
The idea of basing knowledge on foundationsp. 109
Descartes's 'method of doubt'p. 109
Can knowledge be based on purely a priori foundations?p. 111
Can knowledge be based on foundations provided by experience?p. 112
Wittgenstein on private languagep. 114
A general difficulty for foundationalist views: Neurath's boatp. 115
Dummett's anti-realismp. 119
Truth conditions, understanding and mathematical truthp. 119
Dummettian anti-realismp. 120
The case for Dummettian anti-realismp. 122
Possible realist repliesp. 124
Dummettian anti-realism and theoryp. 128
Anti-realist truth and realityp. 131
Rorty's 'postmodern' pragmatismp. 134
Rorty's pragmatismp. 134
Does the world have an intrinsic nature?p. 135
Does realism imply a God's Eye View?p. 139
Realists can keep out of the cosmic porridgep. 142
What's so special about science?p. 143
Science and the world of everyday lifep. 144
The idea that science devalues the world of everyday lifep. 145
Different descriptions of a single reality?p. 146
Does realism require a single true theory of the world?p. 149
Scientific theory and realityp. 153
Possible relations between theories. Reduction and 'strict implication'p. 156
Does science establish what is real?p. 160
Relating science and common sense: (a) theoreticallyp. 161
Relating science and common sense: (b) non-theoreticallyp. 163
A strong realismp. 167
The main apparently relativizing ideasp. 167
'To call a posit a posit is not to patronize it'p. 169
Realism and conceptual autonomyp. 172
Does the language-game idea make philosophy a waste of time?p. 172
Philosophical behaviourismp. 175
No reduction and no unityp. 176
Fact-stating and other language-gamesp. 177
Conclusionp. 179
Glossaryp. 181
Bibliographyp. 184
Indexp. 188
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780415208161
ISBN-10: 0415208165
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 24th June 1999
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.88  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.41
Edition Number: 1