Putnam's Account of Apriority and Scientific Change: Its Historical and Contemporary Interest

Synthese 176 (3):429-445 (2010)
Abstract
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hilary Putnam articulated a notion of relativized apriority that was motivated to address the problem of scientific change. This paper examines Putnam’s account in its historical context and in relation to contemporary views. I begin by locating Putnam’s analysis in the historical context of Quine’s rejection of apriority, presenting Putnam as a sympathetic commentator on Quine. Subsequently, I explicate Putnam’s positive account of apriority, focusing on his analysis of the history of physics and geometry. In the remainder of the paper, I explore connections between Putnam’s account of relativized a priori principles and contemporary views. In particular, I situate Putnam’s account in relation to analyses advanced by Michael Friedman, David Stump, and William Wimsatt. From this comparison, I address issues concerning whether a priori scientific principles are appropriately characterized as “constitutive” or “entrenched”. I argue that these two features need to be clearly distinguished, and that only the constitutive function is essential to apriority. By way of conclusion, I explore the relationship between the constitutive function of a priori principles and entrenchment.
Keywords Hilary Putnam  W. V. Quine  Michael Friedman  William Wimsatt  Relativized a priori  Scientific Change  Apriority  History of Physics  Entrenchment
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Michael Friedman (1997). Philosophical Naturalism. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 71 (2):5 - 21.

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