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Realism and the epistemic accessibility of correspondence truth.

Volpe, Giorgio (1995) Realism and the epistemic accessibility of correspondence truth. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

A long-standing objection to the correspondence theory of truth is that it is bound to make truth epistemically inaccessible and knowledge impossible. This sort of objection has led many philosophers to espouse anti-realism by subscribing to some kind of epistemic theory of truth. The aim of this thesis is to reject the standard objection against correspondence truth by arguing (i) that no reasonable version of the epistemic theory of truth is going to make truth epistemically more accessible than correspondence truth, and (ii) that in the framework of a naturalistic epistemology correspondence truth can prove sufficiently accessible to our cognitive efforts. Chapter 1 spells out the content of various claims which are usually described as 'realist' and investigates their connections with correspondence and epistemic truth. Chapter 2 introduces the 'inaccessibility' argument against correspondence truth, discusses Hilary Putnam's 'Brains in a vat' purported refutation of 'external' realism, and argues that ceteris paribus, every epistemic theory of truth falling short of strict verificationism will fail to make truth epistemically more accessible than a correspondence theory can. Chapter 3 provides a discussion of epistemological internalism. It gives an account of the appeal of epistemological internalism on philosophers in the Cartesian tradition and describes two major theoretical problems it has to face. Chapter 4 focuses on externalist accounts of knowing which make room (or can be modified so as to make room) for the possibility that human beings have, at least in certain circumstances, knowledge of their knowledge. Robert Nozick's 'tracking' analysis of factual knowledge and Fred Dretske's 'information-theoretic' analysis of (perceptual) knowledge are extensively discussed. Chapter 5 addresses the charge that purely externalist (i.e., naturalistic) accounts of knowing ought to be seen, in Laurence Bonjour's phrase, 'as simply abandoning the traditional idea of epistemic justification or rationality and along with it anything resembling the traditional conception of knowledge'. This leads to a wider discussion of the role and character of epistemic justification in our argumentative practices. Chapter 6 contains a discussion of various sorts of 'naturalized' epistemologies and identifies the 'naturalistic' claims one must be prepared to subscribe to in order to support the thesis that correspondence truth is something human beings can rationally pursue. Finally, a model-theoretic approach to the analysis of the comparative concept of verisimilitude is presented in the Appendix.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy, Epistemology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1360

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