David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15 (1):65 – 91 (2001)
In this essay, I offer a critical evaluation of Hilary Putnam's writings on epistemology and philosophy of science, in particular his engagement with interpretative problems in quantum mechanics. I trace the development of his thinking from the late 1960s when he adopted a strong causal-realist position on issues of meaning, reference, and truth, via the "internal realist" approach of his middle-period writings, to the various forms of pragmatist, naturalized, or "commonsense" epistemology proposed in his latest books. My contention is that Putnam's retreat from a full-fledged realist outlook has been prompted in large part by his belief that it cannot possibly be reconciled with the implications of quantum mechanics for our understanding of processes and events in the subatomic domain. However, I suggest, this response should be seen as premature given the range of as-yet unresolved problems with quantum mechanics on the orthodox (Copenhagen) interpretation and also the existence of an alternative account - David Bohm's hidden-variables theory - which perfectly matches the established predictive-observational results while providing a credible realist ontology. I also examine Putnam's case for adopting a nonstandard (three-valued) "quantum logic" in relation to the thinking of other philosophers - Michael Dummett among them - who have espoused a more global or doctrinaire version of anti-realism. I conclude that Putnam's early (causal-realist) position is by no means untenable in light of the various arguments that he now takes as counting decisively against 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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
John Bell & Michael Hallett (1982). Logic, Quantum Logic and Empiricism. Philosophy of Science 49 (3):355-379.
Christopher Norris (2000). Quantum Nonlocality and the Challenge to Scientific Realism. Foundations of Science 5 (1):3-45.
Manfred Stöckler (1986). Philosophen in der Mikrowelt — Ratlos? Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 17 (1):68-95.
Janet Folina (1995). Putnam, Realism and Truth. Synthese 103 (2):141--52.
Hilary Putnam (2005). A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics (Again). British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):615-634.
Allen Stairs (1983). Quantum Logic, Realism, and Value Definiteness. Philosophy of Science 50 (4):578-602.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads45 ( #69,757 of 1,707,790 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #352,887 of 1,707,790 )
How can I increase my downloads?