A Traveller's Guide to Putnam's “Narrow Path”

Dialogue 35 (01):117- (1996)
Abstract
It is now over 15 years since Hilary Putnam first urged that we take the “narrow path” of internal realism as a way of navigating between “the swamps of metaphysics and the quicksands of cultural relativism and historicism” . In the opening lines of the Preface to Realism with a Human Face, a collection of Putnam's recent papers edited by James Conant, Putnam reaffirms his allegiance to this narrow path, unmoved by Realist murmurings from the swamps and laconic Rortian suggestions that only the quicksands are a proper metaphilosophical abode for those willing to confront our lack of epistemological and metaphysical foundations. If there are changes to be discerned in these writings, Putnam avers, they pertain only to the burden allotted to different considerations in the overall economy of his argument: “It might be said that the difference between the present volume and my work prior to The Many Faces of Realism is a shift in emphasis: a shift from emphasizing model-theoretic arguments against metaphysical realism to emphasizing conceptual relativity”
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