Review of Terence E. Horgan, Matjaz Potr, _Austere Realism: Contextual Semantics Meets Minimal Ontology_

Daniel Z Korman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

You could say that Horgan and Potr aren't big on commitment. As they would have it, an ordinary utterance of 'there is a brown chair in the corner' is strictly and literally true, and yet there are no such things as chairs or corners, nor is there any such thing as being brown. Their project in Austere Realism is to supply a semantic framework in which this and other such sentences of ordinary discourse (as well as scientific discourse) are unambiguously true, despite the fact that the sorts of items that would ordinarily be taken to answer to their quantifiers, referring expressions, and predicates do not exist. The conciliatory strategy that they develop is designed to be compatible with a variety of different austere ontologies, though they ultimately come down in favor of a monist ontology on which there exists exactly one concrete particular: "the blobject," that is, the whole cosmos. Although I cannot hope to do justice to all of the intricacies of their ontological-cum-semantic theory in this review, I will do my best to touch on all of the main themes of the book, and I will try to indicate why I was not persuaded.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Volume2008
StatePublished - 2008

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