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Putnam, Hilary (1926–)

THOMAS TYMOCZKO


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405139007.2010.x


Extract

One of the most influential philosophers of the latter half of the twentieth century, Putnam (Professor of Mathematical Logic at Harvard University) has discussed epistemology only late in his career. But he has recently made some major contributions to this field: his arguments that truth is ultimately an epistemic concept, i.e., that truth and “ideal rational acceptability” (or ideal justification) are interdependent concepts and his criticisms of radical or evidence-transcendent scepticism. The two themes are tied together by Putnam's defence of what he calls “internal realism”. In the early 1970s Putnam was a staunch realist with respect to science and language. In both the philosophies of language and science, he argued for realism ( see REALISM ) against verificationism ( see VERIFICATIONISM ) (e.g. 1978, parts I and 3), and for the priority of reference over meaning (i.e. that most terms refer directly without mediating ideas, senses, or properties; cf e.g. Putnam, 1975). Against antirealism, Putnam argued truth couldn't be warranted assertibility since we can recognize the possibility that a proposition might be warrantedly assertible but false (1978, part 3). However, about 1976, Putnam's philosophy took a dramatic turn. He abandoned his view that truth was essentially non-epistemic and instead argued that truth was idealized warranted assertibility (1978, part ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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