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Innocence undone: abandoning the metaphysical nursery

Smith, Simon (2014) Innocence undone: abandoning the metaphysical nursery Appraisal, 10 (2). pp. 20-31.

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Abstract

This paper concerns the philosophy of language underpinning the dominant mode of current metaphysical debate: viz. neo-realism. Taking Peter Byrne's 'innocent realism' as archetypal, I contend that his attempts to assimilate empirical and pragmatic gains made by twentieth century philosophers of language cannot succeed. Those gains, I argue, have been seriously misconstrued by an analysis entirely at odds with both their letter and spirit. Byrne's attack on feminist thinkers and other anti-realists is, as a result, equally misguided. Pursuing this aim exposes the philosophico-psychological foundations of realism, 'innocent' and otherwise. Drawing on Piaget's developmental psychology reveals significant and problematic parallels between the realist's supposedly common sense world-view and the anthropocentric illusions of childhood. Ultimately, and despite protestations to the contrary, Byrne offers no intelligible account of knowledge acquisition. The demand for an utterly autonomous reality allows the individual no opportunity to discover and construct explanations for experience. In contrast to realists, young and old, this paper concludes by outlining an alternative epistemology, one grounded in the logic of action. Action, as we shall see, is inevitably inter action so requires a minimum of two interagents. This overcomes the realist's subject/object dichotomy by relocating exploring agents in a world explored.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Library and Learning Support
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Smith, SimonSimon.smith@surrey.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Date : 2014
Copyright Disclaimer : © The Author(s) 2014
Uncontrolled Keywords : Austin Farrer; Jean Piaget; Peter Byrne; Stuart Hampshire; Innocent Realism; Activist Epistemology
Depositing User : Jane Hindle
Date Deposited : 27 Jul 2017 08:58
Last Modified : 27 Jul 2017 08:58
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/841766

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