In this short, lucid, rich book Michael Dummett sets out his views about some of the deepest questions in philosophy. The fundamental question of metaphysics is: what does reality consist of? To answer this, Dummett holds, it is necessary to say what kinds of fact obtain, and what constitutes their holding good. Facts correspond with true propositions, or true thoughts: when we know which propositions, or thoughts, in general, are true, we shall know what facts there
are in general. Dummett considers the relation between metaphysics, our conception of the constitution of reality, and semantics, the theory that explains how statements are determined as true or as false in terms of their composition out of their constituent expressions. He investigates the two
concepts on which the bridge that connects semantics to metaphysics rests, meaning and truth, and the role of justification in a theory of meaning. He then examines the special semantic and metaphysical issues that arise with relation to time and tense.
On this basis Dummett puts forward his controversial view of reality as indeterminate: there may be no fact of the matter about whether an object does or does not have a given property. We have to relinquish our deep-held realist understanding of language, the illusion that we know what it is for any proposition that we can frame to be true independently of our having any means of recognizing its truth, and accept that truth depends on our capacity to apprehend it. Dummett concludes with a
chapter about God.
Sir Michael Dummett is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University, and Emeritus Fellow, New College and All Souls College, Oxford.