Given the stimulus from another question i read the wikipedia article on anti-realism, there it is mentioned (emphasis mine):

In analytic philosophy, the term anti-realism describes any position involving either the denial of an objective reality or the denial that verification-transcendent statements are either true or false. This latter construal is sometimes expressed by saying "there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not P".

How come the stance that verification-transcendent statements must necessarily be either true or false (and specificaly in a static sense) is labeled as realistic while the refusal to take such a stance is labeled as anti-realistic?

On this point i could summon very realistic examples from natural science (i.e physics) to make a counter-argument, but i will not pursue this here.

Of course this (sense of the) term is (primarily) used in analytic philosophy and may not be shared by other approaches or schools of philosophy (for example, dialectics).

Thank you

1 Answer 1


The terminology seems to me to have been borrowed from a version of the correspondence theory of truth (roughly, the version of Wittgenstein's Tractatus). According to this version, a statement is made true by something real, a fact, or is made false by the absence of an appropriate fact. So, if a statement is neither true nor false, it implies that there are no candidate real entities, facts, in the corresponding realm, such that the truth of the statement can be decided by the existence or absence of such a fact. Therefore such a condition has been called anti realism.

The more specific relation to verification-transcendent statements may be an outcome of the actual kind of 'anti realism' that was investigated by the philosopher who coined this term, Michael Dummett. The status of verification-transcendent statements is an old issue surrounding empiricism. Dummett's definition made possible discussing this issue on a general "semantic" level, with no specific ontological commitments.

  • nice thanks, but isnt "verification-transcendent statements" supposed to be missing facts and/or verification, that would make them immediately false, am i missing something? The question is about the terminology (and the development of that terminology) and not a debate whether this is correct or not, so the comment is in this vain
    – Nikos M.
    May 4, 2015 at 10:41
  • @Nikos Who is your comment directed at? It doesn't seem directed at my answer. May 4, 2015 at 11:47
  • the comment is directed at the answer, i just added the note to clarify that the content of the terminology (whether justified or not) is not debated for the purpose of this question. So the comment asks for clarification on your answer. If "verification-transcendent statements" miss verification and/or facts doesnt this renders them iimmediately false as per the answer "made false by the absence of an appropriate fact"
    – Nikos M.
    May 4, 2015 at 13:07
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    @Nikos You are correct, I need to add something. If truth consisted in correspondence to the facts, then every meaningful statement was indeed either true or false (the law of excluded middle). But if one doesn't accept the correspondence theory, like the anti realist, it opens the possibility for meaningful statements which are neither true nor false. May 4, 2015 at 17:02
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    @nikos thanks. I found this link, but it's not free, unless you are a student. May 5, 2015 at 13:41

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