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Relativism and Reality : A Contemporary Introduction - Robert Kirk

Relativism and Reality

A Contemporary Introduction

Hardcover Published: 22nd September 1999
ISBN: 9780415208178
Number Of Pages: 208

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Our thoughts about the world are clearly influenced by such things as point of view, temperament, past experience and culture. However, some thinkers go much further and argue that everything that exists depends on us, arguing that 'even reality is relative'. Can we accept such a claim in the face of events such as floods and other natural disasters or events seemingly beyond our control? 'Realists' argue that reality is independent of out thinking. 'Relativists' disagree, arguing that what there is depends on our point of view. Which is right?
Robert Kirk provides a crystal clear account of this debate from the Greek philosophers to Wittgenstein and Rorty. Along the way, he unpacks some of the more complicated issues surrounding ideas of objectivity, subjectivity, pragmatism and realism essential for those beginning any study of philosphy.

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: 9780415208178
ISBN-10: 0415208173
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 22nd September 1999
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.77 x 16.51  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.52
Edition Number: 1