Realism, Modality and Truth Essay

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Realism, Modality and Truth ABSTRACT: Anti-realists about the past claim that no one has yet manifested a knowledge of the truth of tensed instances of the realist schema '‡ (s is true · there is no evidence for s),' instances such as '‡ ('Caesar crossed the Rubicon' is true · there is no evidence for 'Caesar crossed the Rubicon'). It is true that we cannot decide specific instances of the realist schema and that, consequently, neither our understanding of these instances, nor our knowledge of their truth may be constituted by the recognitional and executive capacities which, according to Michael Dummett's antirealism, constitute grasp of meaning. Although we cannot decide these issues, we can meet Dummett's anti-realist's…show more content…
I believe that anti-realism about the past is false under both construals and I shall defend realism about the past against them. I obviously take realism to be a modal thesis about the relation between truth and its recognition, a thesis which says that the truth of statements in the past tense is independent from the obtaining of the sort of evidence which we normally rely on to recognize that they are true : testimonies, reports, documents, memories, and so on. It follows from this that the most promising way of arguing in its favour is to meet the now familiar Dummettian 'manifestability challenge'. This is what I propose to do here. I shall address that challenge directly and conclude, contrary to Michael Dummett's anti-realist, that (R) is true. I shall begin with a few words of caution regarding the content of the challenge. It is often taken for granted that anti-realism of the Dummettian variety, either negatively or conditionally construed, is inferred from the provisional claim that no one has yet managed to show, or has yet even made clear, how one could manifest an understanding of the meaning of particular instances of (R), instances such as : (1) ‡ ("Caesar crossed the Rubicon" is true · there is no evidence for "Caesar crossed the Rubicon"). Dummett and other advocates of semantic anti-realism like Crispin Wright and Neil Tennant, have indeed repeatedly insisted that the anti-realist's challenge must be met within the theory of meaning,
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