philosophy, the term anti-realism is used to describe anyposition involving either the denial of an objective realityof entitiesof a certain type or the denial that verification-transcendent statements about a type of entity are either true or false. This latter construal is sometimes expressed by saying "there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not P." Thus, we may speak of anti-realism with respect to other minds, the past, the future, universals, mathematical entities (such as natural numbers), moral categories, the material world, or even thought. The two construals are clearly distinct and often confused. For example, an "anti-realist" who denies that other minds exist (i. e., a solipsist) is quite different from an "anti-realist" who claims that there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not there are unobservable other minds (i. e., a logical behaviorist).Fact|date=January 2008
Anti-realism in Philosophy
The term was popularised by
Michael Dummett, who introduced it inhis paper "Realism" to re-examine several classical philosophicaldisputes involving such doctrines as nominalism, conceptual realism, idealismand phenomenalism. The novelty ofDummett's approach consisted in seeing these disputes as analogous tothe dispute between intuitionism and Platonismin the philosophy of mathematics.
According to intuitionists (anti-realists with respect to mathematical objects), the
truthof a mathematical statement consists in our ability to prove it. According to platonists (realists), the truth of a statement consists in its correspondence to objective reality. Thus, intuitionists are ready to accept a statement of the form "P or Q" as true only if we can prove P or if we can prove Q:this is called the disjunction property. In particular, we cannot in general claim that "P or not P" is true (the law of the excluded middle), since in some cases we may not be able either to prove nor disprove the statement P. Similarly, intuitionists object to the failure of the existence propertyfor classical logic, where one can prove , without being able to produce any term of which holds.
Dummett argues that the intuitionistic notion of truth lies at thebottom of various classical forms of anti-realism. He uses thisnotion to re-interpret
phenomenalism, claiming that it need nottake the form of a reductionism(often considered untenable).
Doubts about the possibility of definite truth have been expressed since ancient times, for instance in the skepticism of
Pyrrho. Anti-realism about matter or physical entities also has a long history. It can be found in the idealismof
Hegel, and so on.
Idealists are skeptics about the physical world, maintaining either: 1) that nothing exists outside the mind, or 2) that we would have no access to a mind-independent reality even if it may exist. Realists, in contrast, hold that perceptions or
sense dataare caused by mind-independent objects. Butthis introduces the possibility of another kind of skepticism: since our understanding of causalityis that the same effect can be produced by multiple causes, there is a lack of determinacy about what one is really perceiving. A concrete example of a situation where an individual's sensory input might be caused by something other than what he thinks is causing it is the brain in a vatscenario.
On a more abstract level, model theoretic arguments hold that a given set of
symbols in a theorycan be mapped onto any number of sets of real-world objects — each set being a "model" of the theory — providing the interrelationships between the objects are the same. (Compare with symbol grounding).
Anti-realism in Science
philosophy of science, anti-realism applies chiefly to claims about the non-reality of "unobservable" entities such as electrons or DNA, which are not detectable with human senses. For a brief discussion comparing such anti-realism to its opposite, realism, see (Okasha 2002, ch. 4). Ian Hacking (1999, p. 84) also uses the same definition. One prominent anti-realist position in the philosophy of science is instrumentalism, which takes a purely agnostic view towards the existence of unobservable entities: unobservable entity X serves simply as an instrument to aid in the success of theory Y. We need not determine the existence or non-existence of X. Some scientific anti-realists argue further, however, and deny that unobservables exist even as non-truth conditioned instruments.
Anti-realism in Art
In discussions of
art(including visual art, writing, music, and lyrics), "anti-realism" and "anti-realist" may be used in one of the philosophical senses described above, or may simply be used in contrast to realism, in whatever sense the latter is meant. Thus surrealismin visual art is an "anti-realist" tendency, and the psychedelicbands common in the United States in the 1960s were "anti-realist," etc. These terms may not be as precise when applied to art as when applied to philosophical matters. "Anti-reality" is occasionally used in this sense, although it may be used in other senses.
Deflationary theory of truth
Neil Tennant (philosopher)
* Theory of Everything (ToE)
* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/realism-sem-challenge/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
* Michael Dummett (1963). "Realism," reprinted in: Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press: 1978, pp. 145-165.
* Michael Dummett (1967). "Platonism," reprinted in: Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press: 1978, pp. 202-214.
* Ian Hacking (1999). "The Social Construction of What?". Harvard University Press: 2001.
* Samir Okasha (2002). "Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction". Oxford University Press.
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