Here in Nancy, Day 1

I’m conference blogging here in Nancy at the Realism/Anti-Realism conference. It’s been neet, chatching up with people I’ve not seen for a while.

Today, after a not-completely-rested-night as I tried to sleep through a rather rowdy French community beeping car horns after their 3-1 victory in the round of 16, I went to five talks. Here’s the quick run-down.

  • Jacques Dubucs talked about his feasible antirealism, according to which feasible computable functions should play a role in meaning theory rather than the computable functions of more traditional constructive logic. Dubucs and Mathieu Marion and Shahid Rahman are interested in the application of substructural logics (and game semantics) to these matters, and I should have a look at this more. There are interesting connections between feasibility and structural rules, worth pursuing.

  • John Cogburn gave a nice paper on Moore’s paradox for anti-realists. The Moorean inference is the step from p to “I believe that p”. This inference is clearly wrong, but on semantically anti-realist lights (at least, for those kinds of constructivists for whom an argument is valid if warrant for the premises can be converted into warrant for the conclusion) then it seems valid enough. If I have warrant for p, then this warrant is the kind of thing that convinces me that p is true — I’ll believe it. John pointed out that even for a constructivist, the fact that I can find no particular counterexample to the Moore inference (some proposition such that I assert it but deny that I believe it) it doesn’t make it valid in the general sense: since for validity, we need the inference to work in any context, and the Moore inference clearly doesn’t. If we suppose that there are truths that I don’t believe. Call one of them, p. From p we can’t infer Bp. We can allow the inference from a statement that we’ve asserted to the fact that we believe it, but it’s another move to say that this inference under hypotheses.

  • Me, giving my anti/realism paper. Not the best presentation of a paper I’ve ever done, but I got some good comments on the paper. Download the paper and give me some comments of your own if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

  • Luca Moretti (I didn’t know that he was in Sydney at the Centre for Time – it’s a long way to go to find out that someone is at the other end of the Hume Highway from me) gave a talk about minimalism about truth and whether it’s neutral between realism and anti-realism. Luca pointed out that on Wright’s kind of pluralism, we can apply the minimalist T principle to the claim that if p then p (for some choice of p in mind: Luca chose “snow is white”, I think). It’s true that if p then p iff if p then p, and this biconditional is true necessarily. (Wright’s minimalism is about the T biconditional for propositions.) Now, since it’s necessary that if p then p, we can infer that it’s necessary that (it’s true that if p then p). But this has the form “necessarily Fa” (as the claim of truth is a predication of truth to a proposition), and so, we can infer that it’s necessary that a exists. Here a is the proposition that if p then p: this proposition exists necessarily. This kind of minimialism, allegedly neutral between kinds of realism and anti-realism seems to conclude a kind of realism about propositions. Sorting out the options here seems quite difficult.

  • Michael Lynch gave a paper about pluralism about truth, and distinguishing role functionalism about truth from other kinds of pluralism about truth. The motivating idea is that there are different ways that things can be true: correspondence, coherence, etc., describe different ways that things can be true, and different kinds of things can be true in different ways. Lynch argued that you can make sense of this kind of intuition if you are happy to say that there’s an overarching role that truth can play and that there are different realisers to this role. I think that there’s something quite interesting in this, however, I’m hampered by my lack of a clear understanding when people confidently individuate properties… (this is common in all discussions of the role/realiser distinction, and I see people having confident intuitions of one property (say pain) realised by another property (brain state)).

More blogging later if the wireless is still working. Now I’m off to drinks…


I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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