Born: Hilary Whitehall Putnam
July 31, 1926
Died: March 13, 2016 (aged 89)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
mater: University of Pennsylvania
Awards: Rolf Schock Prizes in Logic and Philosophy (2011), Nicholas
Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy (2015)
interestsPhilosophy of mind
Philosophy of language
Causal theory of reference
Brain in a vat · Twin Earth
W.V.O. Quine, John Dewey, Hans Reichenbach, Alan
Turing, Immanuel Kant,Nelson Goodman, Charles Sanders Peirce,William James,
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Saul
ThesisThe Meaning of the Concept of Probability
in Application to Finite Sequences (1951)
Doctoral studentsPaul Benacerraf
Whitehall Putnam is a philosopher, mathematician, and computer scientist who was
a central figure in analytic philosophy, especially in philosophy of mind,
philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of
Putnam was known for his willingness to apply an equal
degree of scrutiny to his own philosophical positions as to those of others,
subjecting each position to rigorous analysis until he exposed its
As a result, he acquired a reputation for frequently changing
his own position.
Putnam was Cogan Professor at Harvard.
philosophy of mind, Putnam is known for his argument against the type-identity
of mental and physical states based on his hypothesis of the multiple
realizability of the mental, and for the concept of functionalism, an
influential theory regarding the mind–body problem.
In philosophy of
language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of
reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, introducing the notion
of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin
In philosophy of mathematics, he and his mentor W. V. Quine developed
the "Quine–Putnam indispensability thesis", an argument for the reality of
mathematical entities, later espousing the view that mathematics is not purely
logical, but "quasi-empirical".
In the field of epistemology, he is known
for his critique of the well known "brain in a vat" thought experiment.
This thought experiment appears to provide a powerful argument for
epistemological skepticism, but Putnam challenges its coherence.
metaphysics, he originally espoused a position called metaphysical realism, but
eventually became one of its most outspoken critics, first adopting a view he
called "internal realism", which he later abandoned.
changes of view, throughout his career he remained committed to scientific
realism, roughly the view that mature scientific theories are approximately true
descriptions of ways things are.
In the philosophy of perception Putnam came
to endorse direct realism, according to which perceptual experiences directly
present one with the external world.
In the past, he further held
that there are no mental representations, sense data, or other intermediaries
that stand between the mind and the world.
By 2012, however, he
rejected this further commitment, in favor of "transactionalism", a view that
accepts both that perceptual experiences are world-involving transactions, and
that these transactions are functionally describable (provided that worldly
items and intentional states may be referred to in the specification of the
Such transactions can further involve
In his later work, Putnam became increasingly interested in
pragmatism, Jewish philosophy, and ethics, thus engaging with a wider array of
He also displayed an interest in
metaphilosophy, seeking to "renew philosophy" from what he identifies as narrow
and inflated concerns.
Outside philosophy, Putnam contributed to mathematics
and computer science.
Together with Martin Davis he developed the
Davis–Putnam algorithm for the Boolean satisfiability problem and he helped
demonstrate the unsolvability of Hilbert's tenth problem.
He was at times
a politically controversial figure, especially for his involvement with the
Progressive Labour Party.
Putnam was born in Chicago, Illinois, in
1926. His father, Samuel Putnam, was a scholar of Romance languages, columnist
and translator who wrote for the Daily Worker, a publication of the American
Communist Party, from 1936 to 1946 (when he became disillusioned with
communism). As a result of his father's commitment to communism, Putnam had
a secular upbringing, although his mother, Riva, was Jewish. The family lived
in France until 1934, when they returned to the United States, settling in
Philadelphia. Putnam attended Central High School; there he met Noam Chomsky,
who was a year behind him. The two had been friends—and often intellectual
opponents—ever since. Putnam studied mathematics and philosophy at the
University of Pennsylvania, receiving his BA (undergraduate degree) and becoming
a member of the Philomathean Society, one of the oldest collegiate literary
societies in the U.S. He went on to do graduate work in philosophy at
Harvard University, and later atUCLA's Philosophy Department, where he
received his Ph.D. in 1951 for a dissertation entitled "The Meaning of the
Concept of Probability in Application to Finite Sequences". Putnam's teacher
Hans Reichenbach (his dissertation supervisor) was a leading figure in logical
positivism, the dominant school of philosophy of the day; one of Putnam's most
consistent positions has been his rejection of logical positivism as
After briefly teaching at Northwestern (1951–52),
Princeton (1953-61), and MIT (1961–65), he moved to Harvard in 1965 with his
wife, Ruth Anna Jacobs, who took a teaching position in philosophy at Wellesley
College. Hilary and Ruth Anna were married in 1962. Ruth Anna Jacobs,
descendant of a family with a long scholarly tradition in Gotha (her ancestor
was the German classical scholar Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Jacobs), was born
in Berlin, Germany, in 1927 to anti-Nazi political-activist parents and,
like Putnam himself, she was raised an atheist(her mother was Jewish and her
father had been from a Christian background). The Putnams, rebelling against
the anti-Semitism that they had experienced during their youth, decided to
establish a traditional Jewish home for their children. Since they had no
experience with the rituals of Judaism, they sought out invitations to other
Jews' homes for Seder. They had "no idea how to do it [themselves]", in the
words of Ruth Anna. They therefore began to study Jewish ritual and Hebrew, and
became more Jewishly interested, identified, and active. In 1994, Hilary Putnam
celebrated a belated Bar Mitzvah service. His wife had a Bat Mitzvah service
four years later.
Hilary was a popular teacher at Harvard. In keeping
with the family tradition, he was politically active. In the 1960s and early
1970s, he was an active supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement and an
opponent of American military intervention in Vietnam. In 1963, he organized
one of the first faculty and student committees at MIT against the war. Putnam
was disturbed when he learned from reading the reports of David Halberstam that
the U.S. was "defending" South Vietnamese peasants from the Vietcong by
poisoning their rice crops. After moving to Harvard in 1965, he organized
campus protests and began teaching courses on Marxism. Hilary became an official
faculty advisor to the Students for a Democratic Society and, in 1968, became a
member of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP).
He was elected a Fellow of
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1965. After 1968, his political
activities were centered on the PLP. The Harvard administration considered
these activities disruptive and attempted to censure Putnam, but two other
faculty members criticized the procedures. Putnam permanently severed his
ties with the PLP in 1972. In 1997, at a meeting of former draft resistance
activists at Arlington Street Church in Boston, Putnam described his involvement
with the PLP as a mistake. He said that he had been impressed at first with
PLP's commitment to alliance-building, and its willingness to attempt to
organize from within the armed forces.
In 1976, he was elected President
of the American Philosophical Association. The following year, he was selected
as Walter Beverly Pearson Professor of Mathematical Logic, in recognition of his
contributions to philosophy of logic and mathematics. While breaking with
his radical past, Putnam has never abandoned his belief that academics have a
particular social and ethical responsibility toward society. He has continued to
be forthright and progressive in his political views, as expressed in the
articles "How Not to Solve Ethical Problems" (1983) and "Education for
Putnam was a Corresponding Fellow of the British
Academy. He retired from teaching in June 2000, but, as of 2009, he continued to
give a seminar almost yearly at Tel Aviv University. He also held the Spinoza
Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in 2001. He is the Cogan
University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. He is also a founding
patron of the small liberal arts college Ralston College. His corpus includes
five volumes of collected works, seven books, and more than 200 articles.
Putnam's renewed interest in Judaism has inspired him to publish several recent
books and essays on the topic. With his wife, he has co-authored several
books and essays on the late-19th-century American pragmatist movement.
Putnam began a blog in May 2014.
In spite of being a 'renaissance
philosopher', Hilary Putnam was in his personal life a follower of Judaism.
Mahatma Gandhi was an idol of his. Noam Chomsky, a school friend and yet an
opponent of Putnam’s thoughts, considered Putnam a very impressive contemporary
philosopher. Due to his contributions in philosophy and logic, he was awarded
the Prometheus Prize of the American Philosophical Association in 2010 and the
Rolf Schock prize in 2011. He was awarded the Nicholas Rescher Prize for
Systematic Philosophy in 2015.
He had delivered his last Skype talk entitled
"Thought and Language" in an International Conference on The Philosophy of
Hilary Putnam, at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay on 3 October 2015
organized by his loving student Sanjit Chakraborty
An illustration of multiple realizability. M
stands for mental and P stands for physical. It can be seen that more than one P
can instantiate one M, but not vice versa. Causal relations between states are
represented by the arrows (M1 goes to M2,
best-known work concerns philosophy of mind.
His most noted original
contributions to that field came in several key papers published in the late
1960s that set out the hypothesis of multiple realizability.
papers, Putnam argues that, contrary to the famous claim of the type-identity
theory, it is not necessarily true that "Pain is identical to C-fibre
Pain, according to Putnam's papers, may correspond to
utterly different physical states of the nervous system in different organisms,
and yet they all experience the same mental state of "being in pain".
cited examples from the animal kingdom to illustrate his thesis.
asked whether it was likely that the brain structures of diverse types of
animals realize pain, or other mental states, the same way. If they do not share
the same brain structures, they cannot share the same mental states and
properties. The answer to this puzzle had to be that mental states were realized
by different physical states in different species. Putnam then took his argument
a step further, asking about such things as the nervous systems of alien beings,
artificially intelligent robots and other silicon-based life
These hypothetical entities, he contended, should not be
considered incapable of experiencing pain just because they lack the same
neurochemistry as humans.
Putnam concluded that type-identity
theorists had been making an "ambitious" and "highly implausible" conjecture
which could be disproven with one example of multiple
This argument is sometimes referred to as the
Putnam formulated a complementary argument based
on what he called "functional isomorphism". He defined the concept in these
terms: "Two systems are functionally isomorphic if 'there is a correspondence
between the states of one and the states of the other that preserves functional
relations'." In the case of computers, two machines are functionally isomorphic
if and only if the sequential relations among states in the first are exactly
mirrored by the sequential relations among states in the other. Therefore, a
computer made out of silicon chips and a computer made out of cogs and wheels
can be functionally isomorphic but constitutionally diverse. Functional
isomorphism implies multiple realizability. This argument is sometimes
referred to as an "a priori argument".
Jerry Fodor, Putnam, and others
noted that, along with being an effective argument against type-identity
theories, multiple realizability implies that any low-level explanation of
higher-level mental phenomena is insufficiently abstract and
general. Functionalism, which identifies mental kinds with
functional kinds that are characterized exclusively in terms of causes and
effects, abstracts from the level of microphysics, and therefore seemed to be a
better explanation of the relation between mind and body. In fact, there are
many functional kinds, such as mousetraps, software and bookshelves, which are
multiply realized at the physical level.
A Turing machine can
be visualized as a finite-length tape of slots (which can be, however, made –
before the run – arbitrarily longer if needed) that are written or erased one at
a time, with the choice of action determined by a "state". According to Putnam's
machine-state functionalism, the notions of state in an abstract computer and
mental state are essentially the
first formulation of a machine-state functionalist theory was put forth by
This formulation, which is now called "machine-state
functionalism", was inspired by analogies noted by Putnam and others between the
mind and theoretical "Turing machines" capable of computing any given
In non-technical terms, a Turing machine can be visualized as
an infinitely long tape divided into squares (the memory) with a box-shaped
scanning device that sits over and scans one square of the memory at a time.
Each square is either blank (B) or has a 1 written on it.
the inputs to the machine.
The possible outputs are:
R: move one square to the right.
L: move one square to the
B: erase whatever is on the square.
1: erase whatever is on the
square and print a 1.
A simple example of a Turing machine which writes out
the sequence '111' after scanning three blank squares and then stopping is
specified by the following machine table:
State 1State 2State 3
stay in state 1write 1; stay in state 2write 1; stay in state 3
1go right; go
to state 2go right; go to state 3[halt]
This table states that if the
machine is in state one and scans a blank square (B), it will print a 1 and
remain in state one. If it is in state one and reads a 1, it will move one
square to the right and also go into state two. If it is in state two and reads
a B, it will print a 1 and stay in state two. If it's in state two and reads a
1, it will move one square to the right and go into state three. Finally, if it
is in state three and reads a B, it prints a 1 and remains in state
The point, for functionalism, is the nature of the "states" of the
Turing machine. Each state can be defined in terms of its relations to the other
states and to the inputs and outputs. State one, for example, is simply the
state in which the machine, if it reads a B, writes a 1 and stays in that state,
and in which, if it reads a 1, it moves one square to the right and goes into a
different state. This is the functional definition of state one; it is its
causal role in the overall system. The details of how it accomplishes what it
accomplishes and of its material constitution are completely
According to machine-state functionalism, the nature of a mental
state is just like the nature of the automaton states described above. Just as
"state one" simply is the state in which, given an input B, such-and-such
happens, so being in pain is the state which disposes one to cry "ouch", become
distracted, wonder what the cause is, and so forth.
In the late 1980s,
Putnam abandoned his adherence to functionalism and other computational theories
of mind. His change of mind was primarily due to the difficulties that
computational theories have in explaining certain intuitions with respect to the
externalism of mental content. This is illustrated by Putnam's own Twin Earth
thought experiment (see Philosophy of language).He also developed a separate
argument against functionalism in 1988, based on Fodor's generalized version of
multiple realizability. Asserting that functionalism is really a watered-down
identity theory in which mental kinds are identified with functional kinds,
Putnam argued that mental kinds may be multiply realizable over functional
kinds. The argument for functionalism is that the same mental state could be
implemented by the different states of a universal Turing
Despite Putnam's rejection of functionalism, it has continued to
flourish and has been developed into numerous versions by thinkers as diverse as
David Marr, Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, andDavid Lewis. Functionalism
helped lay the foundations for modern cognitive science and is the dominant
theory of mind in philosophy today.
By 2012 Putnam accepted a
modification of functionalism called "liberal functionalism". The view holds
that "what matters for consciousness and for mental properties generally is the
right sort of functional capacities and not the particular matter that subserves
those capacities". The specification of these capacities (1) may refer to
what goes on outside the organism’s “brain”, (2) may include intentional idioms,
and (3) need not describe a capacity to compute something or
One of Putnam's contributions to philosophy of language is
"semantic externalism", his claim that "meaning just ain't in the head". He
illustrated this using his "Twin Earth" thought experiment to argue that
environmental factors play a substantial role in determining
Twin Earth shows this, according to Putnam, since on Twin
Earth everything is identical to Earth, except that its lakes, rivers and oceans
are filled with XYZ whereas those of earth are filled with
Consequently, when an earthling, Fredrick, uses the
Earth-English word "water", it has a different meaning from the Twin
Earth-English word "water" when used by his physically identical twin, Frodrick,
on Twin Earth. Since Fredrick and Frodrick are physically indistinguishable when
they utter their respective words, and since their words have different
meanings, meaning cannot be determined solely by what is in their heads. This
led Putnam to adopt a version of semantic externalism with regard to meaning and
mental content. The late philosopher of mind and language Donald
Davidson, despite his many differences of opinion with Putnam, wrote that
semantic externalism constituted an "anti-subjectivist revolution" in
philosophers' way of seeing the world. Since the time of Descartes, philosophers
had been concerned with proving knowledge from the basis of subjective
experience. Thanks to Putnam, Tyler Burge and others, Davidson said, philosophy
could now take the objective realm for granted and start questioning the alleged
"truths" of subjective experience.
Putnam, along with Saul
Kripke, Keith Donnellan, and others, contributed to what is known as the causal
theory of reference. In particular, Putnam maintained in The Meaning of
"Meaning" that the objects referred to by natural kind terms—such as tiger,
water, and tree—are the principal elements of the meaning of such
There is a linguistic division of labor, analogous to Adam
Smith's economic division of labour, according to which such terms have their
references fixed by the "experts" in the particular field of science to which
the terms belong.
So, for example, the reference of the term "lion"
is fixed by the community of zoologists, the reference of the term "elm tree" is
fixed by the community of botanists, and the reference of the term "table salt"
is fixed as "NaCl" by chemists. These referents are considered rigid designators
in the Kripkean sense and are disseminated outward to the linguistic
Putnam specifies a finite sequence of elements (a vector) for
the description of the meaning of every term in the language.
vector consists of four components:
First, the object to which the
term refers, e.g., the object individuated by the chemical formula
Second, a set of typical descriptions of the term, referred to as
"the stereotype", e.g., "transparent", "colorless", and
Third, the semantic indicators that place the object into a
general category, e.g., "natural kind" and "liquid".
syntactic indicators, e.g., "concrete noun" and "mass noun".
"meaning-vector" provides a description of the reference and use of an
expression within a particular linguistic community. It provides the conditions
for its correct usage and makes it possible to judge whether a single speaker
attributes the appropriate meaning to that expression or whether its use has
changed enough to cause a difference in its meaning. According to Putnam, it is
legitimate to speak of a change in the meaning of an expression only if the
reference of the term, and not its stereotype, has changed. However, since there
is no possible algorithm that can determine which aspect—the stereotype or the
reference—has changed in a particular case, it is necessary to consider the
usage of other expressions of the language. Since there is no limit to the
number of such expressions which must be considered, Putnam embraced a form of
Putnam made a significant contribution to
philosophy of mathematics in the Quine–Putnam "indispensability argument" for
This argument is considered by Stephen
Yablo to be one of the most challenging arguments in favour of the acceptance of
the existence of abstract mathematical entities, such as numbers and sets.
The form of the argument is as follows.
First, one must
have ontological commitments to all entities that are indispensable to the best
scientific theories, and to those entities only (commonly referred to as "all
Second, mathematical entities are indispensable to the best
scientific theories. Therefore,
Third, one must have ontological
commitments to mathematical entities.
The justification for the first premise
is the most controversial.
Both Putnam and Quine invoke naturalism to
justify the exclusion of all non-scientific entities, and hence to defend the
"only" part of "all and only". The assertion that "all" entities postulated in
scientific theories, including numbers, should be accepted as real is justified
by confirmation holism. Since theories are not confirmed in a piecemeal fashion,
but as a whole, there is no justification for excluding any of the entities
referred to in well-confirmed theories. This puts the nominalist who wishes to
exclude the existence ofsets and non-Euclidean geometry, but to include the
existence of quarks and other undetectable entities of physics, for example, in
a difficult position.
Putnam holds the view that mathematics, like
physics and other empirical sciences, uses both strict logical proofs and
"quasi-empirical" methods. For example, Fermat's last theorem states that for no
integer are there positive integer values of x, y, and z such that . Before
this was proven for all in 1995 by Andrew Wiles, it had been proven for
many values of n. These proofs inspired further research in the area, and formed
a quasi-empirical consensus for the theorem. Even though such knowledge is more
conjectural than a strictly proven theorem, it was still used in developing
other mathematical ideas.
Putnam has contributed to scientific fields not
directly related to his work in philosophy. As a mathematician, Putnam
contributed to the resolution of Hilbert's tenth problem in mathematics. This
problem was settled by Yuri Matiyasevich in 1970, with a proof that relied
heavily on previous research by Putnam, Julia Robinson and Martin
In computability theory, Putnam investigated the structure of the
ramified analytical hierarchy, its connection with the constructible hierarchy
and its Turing degrees. He showed that there exist many levels of the
constructible hierarchy which do not add any subsets of the integers and
later, with his student George Boolos, that the first such "non-index" is the
ordinal of ramified analysis (this is the smallest such that is a model
of full second-order comprehension), and also, together with a separate paper
with Richard Boyd (another of Putnam's students) andGustav Hensel, how the
Davis–Mostowski–Kleene hyperarithmetical hierarchy of arithmetical degrees can
be naturally extended up to .
In computer science, Putnam is known for the
Davis–Putnam algorithm for the Boolean satisfiability problem (SAT), developed
with Martin Davis in 1960. The algorithm finds if there is a set of true or
false values that satisfies a given Boolean expression so that the entire
expression becomes true. In 1962, they further refined the algorithm with the
help of George Logemann andDonald W. Loveland. It became known as the DPLL
algorithm. This algorithm is efficient and still forms the basis of most
complete SAT solvers.
A "brain in a vat"—Putnam uses this
thought experiment to argue that skeptical scenarios are
the field of epistemology, Putnam is known for his "brain in a vat" thought
experiment (a modernized version of Descartes' evil demon hypothesis). The
argument is that one cannot coherently state that one is a disembodied "brain in
a vat" placed there by some "mad scientist".
This follows from the causal
theory of reference. Words always refer to the kinds of things they were coined
to refer to, thus the kinds of things their user, or the user's ancestors,
experienced. So, if some person, Mary, were a "brain in a vat", whose every
experience is received through wiring and other gadgetry created by the "mad
scientist", then Mary's idea of a "brain" would not refer to a "real" brain,
since she and her linguistic community have never seen such a thing. Rather, she
saw something that looked like a brain, but was actually an image fed to her
through the wiring. Similarly, her idea of a "vat" would not refer to a "real"
vat. So, if, as a brain in a vat, she were to say "I'm a brain in a vat", she
would actually be saying "I'm a brain-image in a vat-image", which is
incoherent. On the other hand, if she is not a brain in a vat, then saying that
she is a brain in a vat is still incoherent, but now because she actually means
the opposite. This is a form of epistemological externalism: knowledge or
justification depends on factors outside the mind and is not solely determined
Putnam has clarified that his real target in this argument was
never skepticism, but metaphysical realism. Since realism of this kind
assumes the existence of a gap between how man conceives the world and the way
the world really is, skeptical scenarios such as this one (or Descartes' Evil
demon) present a formidable challenge. Putnam, by arguing that such a scenario
is impossible, attempts to show that this notion of a gap between man's concept
of the world and the way it is, is in itself absurd. Man cannot have a "God's
eye" view of reality. He is limited to his conceptual schemes. Metaphysical
realism is therefore false, according to Putnam.
In the late 1970s
and the 1980s, stimulated by results from mathematical logic and by some ideas
of Quine, Putnam abandoned his long-standing defence of metaphysical realism—the
view that the categories and structures of the external world are both causally
and ontologically independent of the conceptualizations of the human mind. He
adopted a rather different view, which he called "internal
Internal realism was the view that, although the world may
be causally independent of the human mind, the structure of the world—its
division into kinds, individuals and categories—is a function of the human mind,
and hence the world is not ontologically independent. The general idea is
influenced by Kant's idea of the dependence of our knowledge of the world on the
categories of thought.
The problem with metaphysical realism, according
to Putnam, was that it fails to explain the possibility of reference and truth.
According to the metaphysical realist, our concepts and categories refer because
they match up in some mysterious manner with the pre-structured categories,
kinds and individuals that are inherent in the external world. But how is it
possible that the world "carves up" into certain structures and categories, the
mind carves up the world into its own categories and structures, and the two
"carvings" perfectly coincide? The answer must be that the world does not come
pre-structured but that structure must be imposed on it by the human mind and
its conceptual schemes. In Reason, Truth, and History, Putnam identified truth
with what he termed "idealized rational acceptability." The theory, which owes
something to C. S. Peirce, is that a belief is true if it would be accepted by
anyone under ideal epistemic conditions.
Nelson Goodman had formulated a
similar notion in Fact, Fiction and Forecast in 1956. In that work, Goodman went
as far as to suggest that there is "no one world, but many worlds, each created
by the human mind." Putnam rejected this form of social constructivism, but
retained the idea that there can be many correct descriptions of reality. No one
of these descriptions can be scientifically proven to be the "one, true"
description of the world. This does not imply relativism, for Putnam, because
not all descriptions are equally correct and the ones that are correct are not
Putnam renounced internal realism in his reply
to Simon Blackburn in the volume Reading Putnam. The reasons he gave up his
"antirealism" are stated in the first three of his replies in "The Philosophy of
Hilary Putnam", an issue of the journal Philosophical Topics, where he gives a
history of his use(s) of the term "internal realism", and, at more length, in
his The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body and World (1999).
abandoned internal realism, Putnam still resists the idea that any given thing
or system of things can only be described in exactly one complete and correct
way. He thus accepts "conceptual relativity" - the view that it may be a matter
of choice or convention, e.g., whether mereological sums exist, or whether
space-time points are individuals or mere limits. In other words, having
abandoned internal realism Putnam came to accept metaphysical realism in simply
the broad sense of rejecting all forms of verificationism and all talk of our
'making'm the world.
Under the influence of C. S. Peirce and William
James, Putnam also became convinced that there is no fact–value dichotomy; that
is, normative (e.g., ethical and aesthetic) judgments often have a factual
basis, while scientific judgments have a normative element.
end of the 1980s, Putnam became increasingly disillusioned with what he
perceived as the "scientism" and the rejection of history that characterize
modern analytic philosophy. He rejected internal realism because it assumed a
"cognitive interface" model of the relation between the mind and the world.
Putnam claimed that the very notion of truth would have to be abandoned by a
consistent eliminative materialist. Under the increasing influence of James
and the pragmatists, he adopted a direct realist view of this relation. For a
time, under the influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein, he adopted a pluralist view of
philosophy itself and came to view most philosophical problems as nothing more
than conceptual or linguistic confusions created by philosophers by using
ordinary language out of its original context.
Many of Putnam's most
recent works have addressed the concerns of ordinary people, particularly their
concerns about social problems. For example, he has written about the nature
ofdemocracy, social justice and religion. He has discussed the ideas of the
continental philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, and has written articles influenced by
Putnam died of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung
cancer, at his home in Boston during the early hours of March 13,
Putnam himself may be his own most formidable philosophical
His frequent changes of mind have led him to attack his
previous positions. However, many significant criticisms of his views have come
from other philosophers and scientists. For example, multiple realizability has
been criticized on the grounds that, if it were true, research and
experimentation in the neurosciences would be
According to Bechtel and Mundale, to be able to
conduct such research in the neurosciences, universal consistencies must either
exist or be assumed to exist in brain structures. It is the similarity (or
homology) of brain structures that allows us to generalize across
If multiple realizability were an empirical fact,
results from experiments conducted on one species of animal (or one organism)
would not be meaningful when generalized to explain the behavior of another
species (or organism of the same species).
Other criticisms of
metaphysical realism have been proposed by Jaegwon Kim, David Lewis, Robert
Richardson and Patricia Churchland.
One of the main arguments
against functionalism was formulated by Putnam himself: the Twin Earth thought
However, there have been other criticisms.
Chinese room argument by John Searle (1980) is a direct attack on the claim that
thought can be represented as a set of functions. The thought experiment is
designed to show that it is possible to mimic intelligent action, without any
interpretation or understanding, through the use of a purely functional system.
In short, Searle describes a situation in which a person who speaks only English
is locked in a room with Chinese symbols in baskets and a rule book in English
for moving the symbols around. The person is instructed, by people outside the
room, to follow the rule book for sending certain symbols out of the room when
given certain symbols. Further, suppose that the people outside the room are
Chinese speakers and are communicating with the person inside via the Chinese
symbols. According to Searle, it would be absurd to claim that the English
speaker inside "knows" Chinese based on these syntactic processes alone. This
thought experiment attempts to show that systems that operate merely on
syntactic processes cannot realize any semantics (meaning) or intentionality
(aboutness). Thus, Searle attacks the idea that thought can be equated with the
following of a set of syntactic rules. Thus, functionalism is an inadequate
theory of the mind. Several other arguments against functionalism have been
advanced by Ned Block.
Putnam has consistently adhered to the idea of
semantic holism, in spite of the many changes in his other positions. The
problems with this position have been described by Michael Dummett, Jerry Fodor,
Ernest Lepore, and others.
In the first place, they suggest that, if
semantic holism is true, it is impossible to understand how a speaker of a
language can learn the meaning of an expression, for any expression of the
language. Given the limits of our cognitive abilities, we will never be able to
master the whole of the English (or any other) language, even based on the
(false) assumption that languages are static and immutable entities. Thus, if
one must understand all of a natural language to understand a single word or
expression, language learning is simply impossible. Semantic holism also fails
to explain how two speakers can mean the same thing when using the same
linguistic expression, and therefore how any communication at all is possible
between them. Given a sentence P, since Fred and Mary have each mastered
different parts of the English language and P is related in different ways to
the sentences in each part, the result is that P means one thing for Fred and
something else for Mary. Moreover, if a sentence P derives its meaning from its
relations with all of the sentences of a language, as soon as the vocabulary of
an individual changes by the addition or elimination of a sentence, the totality
of relations changes, and therefore also the meaning of P. As this is a common
phenomenon, the result is that P has two different meanings in two different
moments in the life of the same person. Consequently, if I accept the truth of a
sentence and then reject it later on, the meaning of that which I rejected and
that which I accepted are completely different and therefore I cannot change my
opinions with regard to the same sentences.
The brain in a vat
argument has also been subject to criticism.
argues that Putnam's formulation of the brain-in-a-vat scenario is too narrow to
refute global skepticism.
The possibility that one is a recently
disembodied brain in a vat is not undermined by semantic externalism. If a
person has lived her entire life outside the vat—speaking the English language
and interacting normally with the outside world—prior to her "envatment" by a
mad scientist, when she wakes up inside the vat, her words and thoughts (e.g.,
"tree" and "grass") will still refer to the objects or events in the external
world that they referred to before her envatment. In another scenario, a
brain in a vat may be hooked up to a supercomputer that randomly generates
perceptual experiences. In this case, one's words and thoughts would not refer
to anything, and would therefore be devoid of content. Semantics would no longer
exist and the argument would be meaningless.
In philosophy of
mathematics, Stephen Yablo has argued that the Quine–Putnam indispensability
thesis does not demonstrate that mathematical entities are truly indispensable.
The argumentation is sophisticated, but the upshot is that one can achieve the
same logical results by simply adding to any statement about an abstract object
the assumption "so-and-so is assumed (or hypothesized) to exist". For example,
one can take the argument for indispensability described above and adjust it as
First, one must have ontological commitments to all and only
the [abstract] entities for which, under the assumption that they exist, their
existence is indispensable to the best scientific theories.
the assumption that they exist, the existence of mathematical entities is
indispensable to the best scientific theories. Therefore,
the assumption that mathematical entities exist, one must have ontological
commitments to the existence of mathematical entities.
internal realism has been accused by Curtis Brown of being a disguised form of
subjective idealism. If this is the case, it is subject to the traditional
arguments against that position. In particular, it falls into the trap of
solipsism. That is, if existence depends on experience, as subjective idealism
maintains, and if one's consciousness were to stop existing, then the rest of
the universe would stop existing as well.
There is a detailed
bibliography of Hilary Putnam's writings (with 16 books and 198 articles)
compiled by Vincent C. Müller and published in 1993.
A later version
of this is on Harvard's Servers.
Putnam, H. W. The
"Innateness Hypothesis" and Explanatory Models in Linguistics, Synthese, Vol.
17, No. 1.
-- Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings. Edited with Paul
Benacerraf. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964. 2nd ed., Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-521-29648-X
Philosophy of Logic. New
York: Harper and Row, 1971. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972. ISBN
Mathematics, Matter and Method. Philosophical Papers, vol. 1.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 2nd. ed., 1985 paperback: ISBN
Mind, Language and Reality. Philosophical Papers, vol. 2.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 2003 paperback: ISBN
Meaning and the Moral Sciences. London: Routledge and Kegan
Reason, Truth, and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1981. 2004 paperback: ISBN 0-521-29776-1
Realism and Reason.
Philosophical Papers, vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 2002
paperback: ISBN 0-521-31394-5
Methodology, Epistemology, and Philosophy of
Science: Essays in Honour of Wolfgang Stegmüller. edited with Wilhelm K. Essler
and Carl G. Hempel. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983.
and Philosophy of Science: Essays in Honour of Carl G. Hempel. edited with
Wilhelm K. Essler and Wolfgang Stegmüller. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1985.
Many Faces of Realism. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1987. ISBN
Representation and Reality. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988.
Realism with a Human Face. edited by James F. Conant.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990. 9780674749450 Description.
Renewing Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1992. 9780674760943 Description. ISBN 0-674-76094-8
Reason: Essays in Honor of Stanley Cavell. edited with Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer.
Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-89672-266-X
Life. edited by James F. Conant. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1994. 9780674956070 Description. ISBN 0-674-95607-9
Pragmatism: An Open
Question. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. ISBN 0-631-19343-X
The Threefold Cord:
Mind, Body, and World. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. ISBN
Enlightenment and Pragmatism. Assen: Koninklijke Van Gorcum,
The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. Description. ISBN
Ethics Without Ontology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 2002. 9780674018518 Description. ISBN 0-674-01851-6
as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 2008.
Philosophy in an Age of Science. edited by
Mario De Caro and David Macarthur. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
2012. 9780674050136 Description.
Works about Putnam:
Ben-Menahem (ed.), Hilary Putnam, Contemporary Philosophy in Focus, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.
P. Clark-B. Hale (eds.), Reading Putnam,
Blackwell, Cambridge (Massachusetts)-Oxford.
C. S. Hill (ed.), The Philosophy
of Hilary Putnam, Fayetteville, Arkansas 1992.
M. Rüdel, Erkenntnistheorie
und Pragmatik: Untersuchungen zu Richard Rorty und Hilary Putnam, (Dissertation)
Maximilian de Gaynesford, Hilary Putnam, McGill-Queens
University Press / Acumen, 2006.
Randall E. Auxier, Anderson, and Hahn
(eds.), The Philosophy of Hilary Putnam, The Library of Living Philosophers,
Open Court, Chicago, Illinois.
See alsoBiography portal
List of American
Borradori, G. et al. The American Philosopher,
1994, p. 58. Casati R., "Hillary Putnam" in Enciclopedia Garzanti
della Filosofia, ed. Gianni Vattimo. 2004. Garzanti Editori. Milan. ISBN
88-11-50515-1^ Jump up to: King, P.J. One Hundred Philosophers: The Life and
Work of the World's Greatest Thinkers. Barron's 2004, p. 170.
Jump up Jack
Ritchie (June 2002). "TPM:Philosopher of the Month". Archived from the original
Jump upLeDoux, J. (2002). The Synaptic Self; How Our Brains
Become Who We Are. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 88-7078-795-8.
Clark-B. Hale (eds.), "Reading Putnam", Blackwell, Cambridge
(Massachusetts)-Oxford 1995.Jump up to: P. Clark-B. Hale (eds.), "Reading
Putnam", Blackwell, Cambridge (Massachusetts)-Oxford 1995.Jump up^ Colyvan,
Mark, "Indispensability Arguments in the Philosophy of Mathematics", The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2004 Edition), Edward N. Zalta
^ Jump up to:Putnam, H. Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings.
Edited with Paul Benacerraf. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964. 2nd
ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
^ Jump up to:a b c d
Putnam, H. (1981): "Brains in a vat" in Reason, Truth, and History, Cambridge
University Press; reprinted in DeRose and Warfield, editors (1999): Skepticism:
A Contemporary Reader, Oxford UP.
^ Jump up to:a b c Putnam, H. Realism with
a Human Face. Edited by James Conant. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Jump up^ Putnam, H. 2012. From Quantum Mechanics to Ethics and
Back Again. In his (Au.), De Caro, M. and Macarthur D. (Eds.) "Philosophy in an
Age of Science". Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
^ Jump up to:a b
Putnam, H.. The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body, and World. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1999.
^ Jump up to:a b c Putnam, Hilary (October 30, 2015).
"What Wiki Doesn't Know About Me". Sardonic comment. Retrieved March
Jump up^ Putnam, H. 2012. How to Be a Sophisticated "Naive Realist".
In his (Au.), De Caro, M. and Macarthur D. (Eds.) "Philosophy in an Age of
Science". Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
^ Jump up to:a b Davis,
M. and Putnam, H. "A computing procedure for quantification theory" in Journal
of the ACM, 7:201–215, 1960.
Jump up^ Matiyesavic, Yuri (1993). Hilbert's
Tenth Problem. Cambridge: MIT. ISBN 0-262-13295-8.
^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g
h i j k To appear in the "American Philosophers" edition of Literary Biography,
ed. Bruccoli, Layman and Clarke
^ Jump up to:a b c d Foley, M. (1983).
Confronting the War Machine. North Carolina: North Carolina Press. ISBN
Jump up^ Wolfe, Bertram David. "Strange Communists I Have
Known", Stein and Day, 1965, p.79.
Jump up^ Robert F. Barsky, Noam Chomsky: A
Life of Dissent, Ch. 2: Undergraduate Years. "A Very Powerful Personality", MIT
Press, 1997 Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Jump up to:a b c
d Linda Wertheimer (July 30, 2006). "Finding My Religion". The Boston
Jump up^ Hortsch, Michael. "Dr. Hans Nathan Kohn – ein Berliner
Jüdischer Arzt und Forscher am Vorabend des Nationalsozialismus." Berlin
Medical, Vol. 4:26–28 August 2007
Jump up^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010:
Chapter P" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19
Jump up^ "Crimson article on Putnam and Harvard admin.". May 7,
1971. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
Jump up^ "New York Times correction, March 6,
2005". The New York Times. March 6, 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-01.
Jump up^ The
Spinoza Chair - Philosophy - University of Amsterdam
Jump up^ "Hilary Putnam:
The Chosen People". Boston Review. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
Jump up^ http://putnamphil.blogspot.in
up^ "International Conference on THE PHILOSOPHY OF HILARY PUTNAM".
^ Jump up
to:a b c Bickle, John "Multiple Realizability", The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Fall 2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
^ Jump up to:a b c d e
f g Putnam, H. (1975) Mind, Language and Reality. Philosophical Papers, vol. 2.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. ISBN 88-459-0257-9
Fodor, J. (1974) "Special Sciences" in Synthese, 28, pp. 97–115
Fodor, J. (1980) "The Mind-Body Problem", Scientific American, 244, pp.
^ Jump up to:a b C. S. Hill (ed.), "The Philosophy of Hilary Putnam",
Fayetteville, Arkansas 1992.
Jump up^ Sipser, M. (1997) Introduction to the
Theory of Computation. PWS Publishing Company. Boston, Mass. ISBN
Jump up^ Block, Ned (August 1983). "What is
Jump up^ Putnam, Hilary (1988). Representation and Reality.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
^ Jump up to:a b Marhaba, Sadi. (2004)
Funzionalismoin "Enciclopedia Garzantina della Filosofia" (ed.) Gianni Vattimo.
Milan: Garzanti Editori. ISBN 88-11-50515-1
Jump up^ Levin, Janet,
"Functionalism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2004 Edition),
Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
Jump up^ Davidson, D. (2001) Subjective,
Intersubjective, Objective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN
Jump up^ Dell'Utri, Massimo. (2002) Olismo. Quodlibet.
^ Jump up to:a b Yablo, S. (November 8, 1998). "A
Paradox of Existence".
^ Jump up to:a b Putnam, H. Mathematics, Matter and
Method. Philosophical Papers, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1975. 2nd. ed., 1985.
Jump up^ J J O'Connor and E F Robertson (April 1997).
"Andrew Wiles summary".
Jump up^ S. Barry Cooper, Computability theory, p.
Jump up^ Putnam, Hilary (1963). "A note on constructible sets of
integers". Notre Dame J. Formal Logic 4 (4):
Jump up^ Boolos, George; Putnam, Hilary
(1968). "Degrees of unsolvability of constructible sets of integers". J.
Symbolic Logic (The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Vol. 33, No. 4) 33 (4): 497–513.
doi:10.2307/2271357. JSTOR 2271357.
Jump up^ Boyd, Richard; Hensel, Gustav;
Putnam, Hilary (1969). "A recursion-theoretic characterization of the ramified
analytical hierarchy". Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. (Transactions of the American
Mathematical Society, Vol. 141) 141: 37–62.doi:10.2307/1995087. JSTOR
^ Jump up to:a b Wright, C. (1992), "On Putnam's Proof That We Are
Not Brains-in-a-Vat", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92.
Dell'Utri, M. (1990), "Choosing Conceptions of Realism: the Case of the Brains
in a Vat", Mind 99.
Jump up^ Putnam, H. The Many Faces of Realism. La Salle,
Ill.: Open Court, 1987.
^ Jump up to:a b Curtis Brown (1988). "Internal
Realism: Transcendental Idealism?". Midwest Studies in Philosophy (12):
Jump up^ Goodman, N. Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. University of
London: Athlone Press, 1954. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1955. 2nd ed.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965. 3rd. ed. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973.
4th ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983
^ Jump up to:a b c Putnam, H. (1997).
"A Half Century of Philosophy, Viewed from Within". Daedalus 126 (1):
Jump up^ Peter Clark and Bob Hale, eds., Reading
Putnam. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.
Jump up^ See also Philosophical Topics (vol.
20, Number 1, Spring 1992). And Hilary Putnam, "When 'Evidence Transcendence' is
Not Malign", Journal of Philosophy, XCVIII, 11 (Nov. 2001), 594–600.
Putnam, Hilary (November 9, 2015). "Wiki Catches Up a Bit". Sardonic comment.
Retrieved March 15, 2016.
Jump up^ Feser, Edward, The Last Superstition, St.
Augustine Press 2008, p. 234
Jump up^ Reed, Edward (1997). "Defending
Experience: A Philosophy For The Post-Modern World" in The Genetic
Epistemologist: The Journal of the Jean Piaget Society, Volume 25, Number
Jump up^ "Boston Globe Obituaries". Retrieved 13 March 2016.
HILARY PUTNAM Obituary - Brookline, MA | Boston Globe
^ Jump up to:a b
Bechtel, William and Mundale, Jennifer. Multiple Realizability Revisited in
Philosophy of Science 66: 175–207.
Jump up^ Kim, Sungsu. Testing Multiple
Realizability: A Discussion of Bechtel and Mundale in Philosophy of Science. 69:
Jump up^ Kim, Jaegwon. Multiple Realizability and the Metaphysics of
Reduction on Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 52: 1–26.
Lewis, David (1969). "Review of Art, Mind, and Religion." Journal of Philosophy,
Jump up^ Richardson, Robert (1979). "Functionalism and
Reductionism." Philosophy of Science, 46: 533–558.
Jump up^ Churchland,
Patricia (1986). Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Jump up^ Searle,
John. (1980). "Minds, Brains and Programs",Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol.3.
Jump up^ Block, Ned. (1980b). "Troubles With Functionalism", in
Jump up^ Fodor, J. and Lepore, E. Holism: A Shopper's Guide.
Blackwell. Oxford. 1992.
Jump up^ Dummett, Michael. The Logical Basis of
Metaphysics. Harvard University Press. Cambridge (MA). 1978.
Jump up^ Penco,
Carlo. Olismo e Molecularismo in Olismo ed. Massimo Dell'Utri. Quodlibet.
Jump up^ Steinitz, Y. (1994), "Brains in a Vat: Different
Perspectives", Philosophical Quarterly 44.
Jump up^ Brueckner, A. (1986),
"Brains in a Vat", Journal of Philosophy 83.
Jump up^ "The 'innateness
hypothesis' and explanatory models in linguistics" (PDF). Retrieved
Bechtel, William and Mundale, Jennifer. "Multiple
Realizability Revisited" in Philosophy of Science 66.
"Multiple Realizability" in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2006
Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
Brown, C., "Internal Realism:
Transcendental Idealism?" Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12.
Casati R., "Hillary Putnam" in Enciclopedia Garzanti della
Filosofia. Gianni Vattimo (ed). Milan: Garzanti Editori.
Churchland, Patricia. Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT
Clark, P. & Hale, B. (eds.) Reading Putnam. Oxford:
Dummett, Michael. The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. Harvard
University Press. Cambridge (MA) 1972.
Fodor, J. and Lepore, E. Holism: A
Shopper's Guide. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.
Foley, M., Confronting the War
Machine. North Carolina: North Carolina Press. 1983. ISBN
Gaynesford, M. de Hilary Putnam, Acumen, 2006. (See Robert
Maximilian de Gaynesford)
Hickey, L.P., "Hilary Putnam" To appear in the
"American Philosophers" edition of Literary Biography, ed. Bruccoli, Layman and
Hill, C.S. (ed.) The Philosophy of Hilary Putnam, Fayetteville,
Kim, Jaegwon. "Multiple Realizability and the Metaphysics of
Reduction." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52: 1–26.
King, Peter J.
One Hundred Philosophers: The Life and Work of the World's Greatest Thinkers.
Barron's 2004, p. 170.
Lewis, David. "Review of Art, Mind, and Religion."
Journal of Philosophy 66 (1969): 23–35.
Matiyesavic, Yuri. Hilbert's Tenth
Problem. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993. ISBN 0-262-13295-8.
Penco, Carlo. Olismo
e Molecularismo in Olismo, ed. Massimo Dell'Utri. Quodlibet. Macerata.
Putnam, Hilary. Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings. Edited
with Paul Benacerraf. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, (1964). 2nd ed.,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
———. Mind, Language and Reality.
Philosophical Papers, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
———. "Brains in a Vat" in Reason, Truth, and History, Cambridge
University Press (1981); reprinted in DeRose and Warfield, editors (1999):
Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader, Oxford University Press.
———. Realism with
a Human Face. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990.
Threefold Cord: Mind, Body, and World. New York: Columbia University Press,
Richardson, Robert. "Functionalism and Reductionism." Philosophy of
Science 46 (1979): 533–558.
Searle, John. "Minds, Brains and Programs."
Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (1980).
Wertheimer, Linda. ""Finding My
Religion." Boston Globe, July 30, 2006.
Yablo, S. "A Paradox of Existence",
June 8, 1998.
External links Quotations related to Hilary Putnam at
Hilary Putnam at PhilPapers
Hilary Putnam at the Internet Movie
Hilary Putnam at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
An extensive directory
Hilary Putnam at the
Mathematics Genealogy Project
London Review of Books contributor
Hilary Putnam: On Mind, Meaning and Reality, Interview by Josh Harlan,
The Harvard Review of Philosophy, spring 1992.
"To Think with Integrity",
Hilary Putnam's Farewell Lecture, The Harvard Review of Philosophy, Spring
Putnam, "The Fact/Value Dichotomy and its critics"; Roundtable on
Externalism audio/video lecture, audio discussion, March 2007, University
Hilary Putnam - Externalism: Its Motivation And Its Critics,
video of a lecture, delivered at Harvard University on October 4, 2007
short film about the Putnam-Rorty debate and its influence on the pragmatist
revival on YouTube
The Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies video
interview with Hilary Putnam 2010-04-21 (with transcript)
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