As I sit here grading my student’s papers, I note that the difference between some professional philosophers and my students on the topic of realism is how articulate they are. I say this harsh thing, because I am tired of hearing the declaration “I’m a realist” as if it carried a lot of weight. It does not. Just about everyone is a realist if by that you mean “believes in the independent reality of the world as publicly accessible.” It is almost impossible to find an idealist, and even “anti-realists” are almost always “realists” in the narrow sense. My instincts are that many of these terms are being used without thinking through the binaries that they imply. What is often implied in the chest-thumping—“I am a realist!” is the notion that truth is independent of human subjectivity, which is barely more informative. What is truly informative is a description and explanation of what truth is, such that it is independent and generally accessible as such.
Do I reject realism? No! I am just tired of the proclamation of “Realism Really!” being taken as a monumental statement.