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Ontological antirealism

PostPosted: January 13th, 2018, 8:45 am
by Asparagus

Re: Ontological antirealism

PostPosted: January 13th, 2018, 11:04 am
by TheVat
I like Chalmers, who always writes with great clarity. Will read soon.

Re: Ontological antirealism

PostPosted: January 14th, 2019, 1:55 pm
by TheVat
Asparagus, this is a useful look at meta-ontology and especially Carnapian anti-realism. I'm tagging this and "bumping up" the thread in case anyone wants to share their thoughts on Chalmer's paper.

I notice you asked Neri if he wanted to weigh in. It helps to use the TAG function, which is simply putting that members name between tag brackets:


The tagging means he will get a notification that his name has been mentioned in a post. This is very helpful, especially if someone logs in less frequently and they log in and find hundreds of new posts to wade through.

I really wanted to mention the TAG function because we have several new members recently and I think it helps to be aware of the usefulness of this function.

Re: Ontological antirealism

PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 1:11 pm
by Neri
Asparagus and TheVat,

Having just noticed your invitation, I have read Chalmers’ paper, “Ontological Anti-Realism” and will offer some brief comments.

Chalmers does not specifically mention the senses in his account of realism. This is astonishing. Kant at least recognized that the senses must be discredited to establish anti-realism (as it is now called) and made a valiant effort to do so--without much success, I might add.

Does Chalmers really believe that anyone could conceive of “linguistic networks” if ours was a species without senses? Without senses, there would be no language to start with. Indeed, there would be no ideas in our heads, for we would be without consciousness of any sort. This glaring failure even to attempt to discredit the senses is alone sufficient to dismiss Chalmers’ overwrought defense of anti-realism. However, I can go even further.

In support of his position, Chalmers relies upon the anti-realism of Rudolf Carnap, which Chalmers sets forth in the following way.

Questions about existence are always proposed within some linguistic framework. Internal questions are limited to the scope of a particular framework and concern the existence of certain entities within the framework; for example, “Is that a tiger running towards me?” Internal claims, says Chalmers, are true or false in the sense that their truth-value is determined by the rules of the framework.

However, he would add that, in the case of the tiger, the framework must be used “in conjunction with experience and perhaps with other aspects of the world.” Obviously, experience can only be had by means of the senses. This justifies the realist’s reliance on the senses. Further, if there are “aspects of the world,” such things must exist in order to help impart truth to the framework. If that is the case, what remains of Chalmers refutation of realism?

According to Carnap per Chalmers, external claims are outside of internal claims (thus the name) and are accordingly answers to external questions. An example of an external question is: Do physical objects exist?

Carnap per Chalmers argues that external claims are neither true nor false. Chalmers says: “For Carnap, the choice between frameworks is practical rather than factual.” And, “Any purported factual question about which framework is the ‘correct’ one is held to be a pseudoquestion, without cognitive content.”

However, if the claim, “external questions are neither true nor false” is itself an external claim (as it must be), then it is the answer to the external question, “are external questions true or false?” From this it must follow from Charmers’ reasoning that the claim, “external questions are neither true nor false” is itself neither true nor false. One cannot, properly speaking, insulate one's conclusions from the destructive consequences of his own reasoning.

Chalmers says that if we know the qualitative properties of two objects and the relations between them, there is a “strong intuition” that we are capable of knowing “everything relevant” about the objects. There can be no “deep further truth,” says he, that we know not of.

I do not share this so-called intuition, for by my lights it is quite plausible that there are no perfect objects but only local aspects of a world in continuous transition that we see as self-contained only because their continuous changes relative to the world are too gradual to be immediately perceptible. I have stated this position often and see no need to further elaborate it here.

However, I will say that Chalmers almost stumbles on the truth when he says that the concept of absolute existential quantification is taken for granted by most ontologists, but there may be something defective in the idea.

Indeed, there is no such thing as absolute quantification in a world in continuous transition, except as it applies to the world itself, and that quantity is One.