Realism, Disagreement, and Explanation

Philosophy & Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)

9 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021

Date Written: August 17, 2021


This essay is a contribution to a symposium on Justin Clarke-Doane's ("JCD") important book MORALITY & MATHEMATICS (Oxford University Press, 2020). I focus mainly on what I call JCD's "Symmetry Thesis": that moral beliefs and mathematical beliefs are on a par when it comes to both a priori and a posteriori justification. I argue first that realism, contrary to JCD, does have ontological implications. I then argue that JCD misunderstands the realist and anti-realist arguments from, respectively, agreement and disagreement as presupposing what it is in fact meant to establish, namely, the realist (or anti-realist) interpretation of the propositions in question; and that JCD is wrong to think that "dogmatic" perceptual justification is responsive to Harman's best explanation argument for anti-realism, which presupposes both the theory-ladenness of observation and Quinean confirmation holism.

Keywords: Gilbert Harman, W.V.O. Quine, realism, anti-realism, nominalism, disagreement, confirmation holism, inference to the best exlanation, perceptual justification

Suggested Citation

Leiter, Brian, Realism, Disagreement, and Explanation (August 17, 2021). Philosophy & Phenomenological Research (forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Brian Leiter (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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