Internal Realism, Truth and Understanding

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Philosophy of Science Association

Publication Date



Putnam presents a Peircean characterization of truth in an attempt to avoid relativism, which he argues is incoherent. I argue that Putnam has not avoided relativism. According to Putnam's theory of understanding, we must understand all claims concerning a Peircean community in terms of our own experiences and in terms of our own standards of rational assertability. Truth simply collapses into warranted assertability. At this point Putnam appeals to the objectivity of our standards of assertability. But Putnam's notion of "objectivity for us" is a notion of objectivity which the relativist can happily adopt. Putnam's failure to provide more than a superficial distinction between internal realism and relativism means that internal realism faces the same problems which Putnam directs at "self-refuting" relativism.

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