Putnam's internal realism
This work is intended to ascertain whether Putnam’s internal realism is actually a realist doctrine. Putnam has opposed internal realism, which maintains that truth is an epistemic notion (specifically, idealised rational acceptability), to metaphysical realism, which holds that truth is a non-epistemic notion (in particular, a correspondence relationship between sentences and extra-linguistic facts). Putnam has argued that, even if metaphysical realism is untenable, realism is still defensible, for internal realism is a form of realism. In my work, I leave aside the question of the correctness of Putnam’s arguments against metaphysical realism and I directly focus upon internal realism. I first present this position and I set out its realist characteristics: Putnam’s position can be characterised as one that originated in an attempt to develop Dummett’s anti-realist notion of truth in a realist direction. I show that this effort is in part successful. Next, I raise objections against internal realism and I show that, despite its merits, Putnam’s position is not a form of realism. This is so mainly because internal realism may collapse into relativism, which – I argue – is not realism, and because the internal realist cannot explain how the world, which is causally independent of our minds, makes statements true or false. Since Putnam’s probably constitutes the best possible attempt to produce an epistemic view of truth compatible with realism, I conclude that truth conceived as an epistemic notion is incompatible with realism. I finally suggest that realism can be restored if Putnam’s arguments against metaphysical realism can be shown to be incorrect, so that a non-epistemic notion of truth can be rehabilitated.