MIND-INDEPENDENCE DISAMBIGUATED: SEPARATING THE MEAT FROM THE STRAW IN THE REALISM/ANTI-REALISM DEBATE
The notion of mind-independence plays a central role in the contemporary realism/anti-realism debate, but the notion is severely ambiguous and consequently the source of considerable misunderstanding. In this paper, four kinds of mind-independence are distinguished: ontological, causal, structural, and individuative independence. Appreciating these distinctions entails that one can reject the individuative independence of the natural world, and still maintain that the natural world is causally and structurally independent of us. This paper argues that so-called anti-realists, especially Rorty, Putnam, and Goodman, are not opposed to the causal and structural independence of the natural world, as is frequently alleged, but rather its individuative independence. An acceptance of these points will hopefully put an end to the prevalence of strawmen in the debate, and focus attention on meatier issues.
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