The Manifestation Challenge: The Debate between McDowell and Wright

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In this paper, we will discuss what is called the “Manifestation Challenge” to semantic realism, which was originally developed by Michael Dummett and has been further refined by Crispin Wright. According to this challenge, semantic realism has to meet the requirement that knowledge of meaning must be publically manifested in linguistic behaviour. In this regard, we will introduce and evaluate John McDowell’s response to this anti-realistic challenge, which was put forward to show that the challenge cannot undermine realism. According to McDowell, knowledge of undecidable sentences’ truth-conditions can be properly manifested in our ordinary practice of asserting such sentences under certain circumstances, and any further requirement will be redundant. Wright’s further objection to McDowell’s response will be also discussed and it will be argued that this objection fails to raise any serious problem for McDowell’s response and that it is an implausible objection in general.
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