Antirepresentationalism and its consequences for realism

Byrne, Kenneth J. (2004) Antirepresentationalism and its consequences for realism. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Richard Rorty argues that the subject-object picture of knowledge has been more trouble than it is worth and the realism, built upon it, should now be viewed as a defunct position. Donald Davidson's antirepresentationalism, Richard Rorty argues, reveals the unintelligibility of the realist position; realism depends upon the implausible notion of truth as sentences corresponding to (picturing or representing) the facts. Given antirepresentationalism, Rorty argues, we have to accept the idea that nothing makes a sentence true and drop the ambitions and intuitions inspired by the traditional but problematic dualism. Alternatively, Rorty suggests that we embrace the natural outcome of antirepresentationalism, that is, a new and bold pragmatic antirealism; antirealism denies both the objectivity of truth and the independence of the world. -- In this thesis, I challenge Rorty's claim that Davidson's antirepresentationalism necessarily leads to antirealism. The dismissal of representation heralds the end of a variety of plaguing epistemological problems; yet what remains unclear is whether this abandonment should also bring a loss of objectivity and invite a rejection of an independent world. As we shall see, Rorty's antirealism is not our only option post-correspondence because Davidson provides us with a viable realist alternative; furthermore, our analysis will reveal Rorty's position to be internally incoherent. -- The conclusion of this thesis is that realism can survive, with considerable adjustment, the shift to the new causal/semantic picture of language. Davidson's philosophy of language spells out how we can remain committed to the realist's ambition of objectivity and its intuition of a world out there. Language is not a mirror or lens but it is through having a language that we see the world.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10222
Item ID: 10222
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 93-100.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 2004
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Language and languages--Philosophy; Realism; Representation (Philosophy)

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