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Putting Metaphysics FirstEssays on Metaphysics and Epistemology$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.001.0001

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Underdetermination and Commonsense Realism *

Underdetermination and Commonsense Realism *

(p.57) 3 Underdetermination and Commonsense Realism*
Putting Metaphysics First

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter defends commonsense realism from the underdetermination theses of extreme skepticism. If true, these would count against nearly all our knowledge and hence undermine realism about the observable world. The traditional responses to these theses rest on a priori knowledge. The chapter rejects a priori knowledge, but even if there were such knowledge, these traditional responses tend to involve bizarre metaphysics and to be otherwise unsatisfactory. Instead, it offers a Moorean response: realism is much more firmly based than the epistemological theses that are thought to undermine it. The Moorean response is supported by a naturalistic one that appeals to scientific practice. Rather than proceeding form an a priori epistemology to an a priori metaphysics, we should proceed from an empirical metaphysics to an empirical epistemology. We should put metaphysics first.

Keywords:   underdetermination, commonsense realism, skepticism, a priori, Moore, naturalism, Moorean response

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