David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Noûs 36 (s1):74-96 (2002)
Is conceptual relativity a genuine phenomenon? If so, how is it properly understood? And if it does occur, does it undermine metaphysical realism? These are the questions we propose to address. We will argue that conceptual relativity is indeed a genuine phenomenon, albeit an extremely puzzling one. We will offer an account of it. And we will argue that it is entirely compatible with metaphysical realism. Metaphysical realism is the view that there is a world of objects and properties that is independent of our thought and discourse (including our schemes of concepts) about such a world. Hilary Putnam, a former proponent of metaphysical realism, later gave it up largely because of the alleged phenomenon that he himself has given the label ‘conceptual relativity’. One of the key ideas of conceptual relativity is that certain concepts—including such fundamental concepts as object, entity, and existence—have a multiplicity of different and incompatible uses (Putnam 1987, p. 19; 1988, pp. 110 14). According to Putnam, once we recognize the phenomenon of conceptual relativity we must reject metaphysical realism: The suggestion . . . is that what is (by commonsense standards) the same situation can be described in many different ways, depending on how we use the words. The situation does not itself legislate how words like “object,” “entity,” and “exist” must be used. What is wrong with the notion of objects existing “independently” of conceptual schemes is that there are no standards for the use of even the logical notions apart from conceptual choices.” (Putnam 1988, p. 114) Putnam’s intriguing reasoning in this passage is difficult to evaluate directly, because conceptual  relativity is philosophically perplexing and in general is not well understood. In this paper we propose a construal of conceptual relativity that clarifies it considerably and explains how it is possible despite its initial air of paradox. We then draw upon this construal to explain why, contrary to Putnam and others, conceptual relativity does not conflict with metaphysical realism, but in fact comports well with it..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Terence Horgan (1998). Actualism, Quantification, and Contextual Semantics. Philosophical Perspectives 12 (S12):503-509.
Terence Horgan (1991). Metaphysical Realism and Psychologistic Semantics. Erkenntnis 34 (3):297--322.
Terence Horgan (1986). Psychologism, Semantics, and Ontology. Noûs 20 (1):21-31.
Terence Horgan (1996). Review: The Perils of Epistemic Reductionism. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (4):891 - 897.
Terence Horgan (1996). The Perils of Epistemic Reductionism. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (4):891-897.
Citations of this work BETA
David Liggins (2008). Quine, Putnam, and the 'Quine-Putnam' Indispensability Argument. Erkenntnis 68 (1):113 - 127.
Mark Timmons (2003). The Limits of Moral Constructivism. Ratio 16 (4):391–423.
Gunnar Björnsson (2012). Do 'Objectivist' Features of Moral Discourse and Thinking Support Moral Objectivism? Journal of Ethics 16 (4):367-393.
Michael Gill (2009). Indeterminacy and Variability in Meta-Ethics. Philosophical Studies 145 (2):215 - 234.
Terry Horgan (2010). Transvaluationism About Vagueness: A Progress Report. Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):67-94.
Similar books and articles
Ernest Sosa (2003). Ontological and Conceptual Relativity and the Self. In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
Peter J. Graham (2002). Review of Gabor Forrai, Reference, Truth and Conceptual Schemes: A Defense of Internal Realism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (2).
Anders Öberg (2011). Hilary Putnam on Meaning and Necessity. Dissertation, Uppsala University
Antonio Dieguez (2012). Kitcher's Modest Realism: The Reconceptualization of Scientific Objectivity. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 101 (1):141-169.
Jürgen Dümont (1999). Putnam's Model-Theoretic Argument(S). A Detailed Reconstruction. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 30 (2):341-364.
Damian Cox (2003). Goodman and Putnam on the Making of Worlds. Erkenntnis 58 (1):33 - 46.
Axel Mueller (2003). Some Remarks on the Relations of Semantic Externalism and Conceptual Pluralism. Teorema 22 (3):59-82.
Dermot Moran (2000). Hilary Putnam and Immanuel Kant: Two `Internal Realists'? Synthese 123 (1):65-104.
Tomáš Marvan (2006). Putnamovy realismy a pojmová relativita. Studia Neoaristotelica 3 (1):3-16.
Added to index2009-05-10
Total downloads170 ( #5,315 of 1,410,275 )
Recent downloads (6 months)9 ( #25,266 of 1,410,275 )
How can I increase my downloads?