Austere RealismContextual Semantics Meets Minimal Ontology

Austere RealismContextual Semantics Meets Minimal Ontology

Terence E. Horgan and Matjaž Potrč

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780262083768

Publisher: The MIT Press


This book describes and defends an ontological-cum-semantic position, asserting that the right ontology is minimal or austere, in that it excludes numerous common-sense posits, and that statements employing such posits are nonetheless true, when truth is understood to be semantic correctness under contextually operative semantic standards. The chapters argue that austere realism emerges naturally from consideration of the deep problems within the naive common-sense approach to truth and ontology. They offer an account of truth that confronts these deep internal problems and is independently plausible: contextual semantics, which asserts that truth is semantically correct affirmability. Under contextual semantics, much ordinary and scientific thought and discourse is true because its truth is indirect correspondence to the world. After offering further arguments for austere realism and addressing objections to it, the chapters consider various alternative austere ontologies. They advance a specific version they call “blobjectivism”—the view that the right ontology includes only one concrete particular, the entire cosmos (“the blobject”), which, although it has enormous local spatiotemporal variability, does not have any proper parts.