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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Semantic Realism, Actually Seminar

16:00 - 18:00
13 November 2018
Room 2115, Building 65, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Alexander Greenberg at .

Event details

Part of the Philosophy Seminar Series 2018/19


Debates about realism are out of fashion. This is not to say that realism itself is not in vogue. Indeed philosophers are prone to profess freely their realism concerning a wide range of subject matters. Rather, what is lacking much discussion of whether these popular realisms are justified. In the light of this I invite reconsideration of a semantic characterisation of a wide class of realism/ antirealism debates, taking the lead from philosophers such as Dummett, Wright and Tennant. This has faded from view, either because of sheer neglect or because of a sense that it has been undermined successfully in the literature. This is a mistake; a semantic understanding of what is at issue between the realist and the anti-realist gets to the heart of the matter in a fashion which is sufficiently precise to allow the debate to move forward without the partiestalking past each other. This talk lays out a semantic characterisation of realism, and discusses objections to it, organised around Devitt and Miller's suggestion that the semantic characterisation consists of a metaphor thesis and a constitution thesis. The discussion leads into an engagement with Williamson's metaphilosophy, and its playing down of the importance of linguistic questions to philosophical enquiry. Against this, if the semantic characterisation is correct, linguistic issues are foundational for metaphysics (which is not to say that metaphysics usually has language as its subject matter).

This series of seminars are sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Speaker information

Dr Simon Hewitt, University of Leeds. Philosopher

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