Functional hypotheses about animal signalling often refer to mental states of the sender or the receiver. Mental states are functional categorizations of neurophysiological states. Functional questions about animal signals are intertwined with causal questions. This interrelationship is illustrated in regard to avian distraction displays. In purposive signalling, the sender has a goal of influencing the behavior of the receiver. Purposive signalling is innovative if the sender's goal is unrelated to the biological function of the signal. This may be the case (...) in some instances of false alarm calling. Biological functionalism differs from philosophical functionalism in its concept of identity and in the specification of relevant inputs and outputs. (shrink)
Abstract Daniel Dennett advocates the use of the intentional stance in adaptationist biology and in cognitive ethology. He sees intentional system theory as closely related to decision theory and game theory. In biological decision and game theory models, nature ?chooses? the strategy by which the animal chooses a course of action. The design of the animal imposes constraints on the model. For Dennett, by contrast, the description of nature's rationale imposes constraints on the design of the animal. Dennett's oversimplified conception (...) of nature's rationale undermines the usefulness of the intentional stance as a tool in cognitive ethology. Intentional system theory can be made more useful in investigating animal cognition by modifying its application to questions of biological function. (shrink)
In this dissertation on Hilary Putnam's philosophy, I investigate his development regarding meaning and necessity, in particular mathematical necessity. Putnam has been a leading American philosopher since the end of the 1950s, becoming famous in the 1960s within the school of analytic philosophy, associated in particular with the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language. Under the influence of W.V. Quine, Putnam challenged the logical positivism/empiricism that had become strong in America after World War II, with influential exponents (...) such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach. Putnam agreed with Quine that there are no absolute a priori truths. In particular, he was critical of the notion of truth by convention. Instead he developed a notion of relative a priori truth, that is, a notion of necessary truth with respect to a body of knowledge, or a conceptual scheme. Putnam's position on necessity has developed over the years and has always been connected to his important contributions to the philosophy of meaning. I study Hilary Putnam's development through an early phase of scientific realism, a middle phase of internal realism, and his later position of a natural or commonsense realism. I challenge some of Putnam’s ideas on mathematical necessity, although I have largely defended his views against some other contemporary major philosophers; for instance, I defend his conceptual relativism, his conceptual pluralism, as well as his analysis of the realism/anti-realism debate. (shrink)
In this festschrift for the eminent philosopher Hilary Putnam, a team of distinguished philosophers write on a broad range of topics and thus reflect the remarkably fertile and provocative research of Putnam himself. The volume is not merely a celebration of a man, but also a report on the state of philosophy in a number of significant areas. The essays fall naturally into three groups: a central core on the theme of conventionality and content in the philosophy of mind, (...) language, and science, and two smaller sections on the relationship of ethics and language, and on the philosophy of logic and aesthetics.In this festschrift for the eminent philosopher Hilary Putnam, a team of distinguished philosophers write on a broad range of topics and thus reflect the remarkably fertile and provocative research of Putnam himself. The volume is not merely a celebration of a man, but also a report on the state of philosophy in a number of significant areas. The essays fall naturally into three groups: a central core on the theme of conventionality and content in the philosophy of mind, language, and science, and two smaller sections on the relationship of ethics and language, and on the philosophy of logic and aesthetics. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam's The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays serves as his latest installment attempting to detail some of the historical background and recent controversies over the so-called fact/value distinction. In it, Putnam claims that the positivists' influence led to an inflated dichotomy, rather than distinction, between descriptive sentences and evaluative sentences. He argues that such a dichotomy is unwarranted through a number of arguments intended to show that attempts to "disentangle" facts from values always fail. However, (...) in the process Putnam overlooks a number of interesting motives underlying the positivist movement, and disregards a now-enormous body of literature in the philosophy of science on descriptive and evaluative statements. Hence, his attempt, towards the end of the collection, to construct a viable philosophy of language that can support the dichotomy's collapse and an ethical theory that can support his discussion of the dichotomy's collapse appears somewhat weak. Nevertheless, Putnam engages his philosophical discussion with contemporary economic theory in order to motivate his central claim: that taking a somewhat interesting distinction between facts and values and inflating it into a dichotomy can, and often does, lead to disastrous policy decisions. Thus, the collection shines by highlighting real-world, practical and ethical consequences of certain philosophical and theoretical commitments. (shrink)
Since 1976 Hilary Putnam has drawn parallels between his `internal'',`pragmatic'', `natural'' or `common-sense'' realism and Kant''s transcendentalidealism. Putnam reads Kant as rejecting the then current metaphysicalpicture with its in-built assumptions of a unique, mind-independent world,and truth understood as correspondence between the mind and that ready-madeworld. Putnam reads Kant as overcoming the false dichotomies inherent inthat picture and even finds some glimmerings of conceptual relativity inKant''s proposed solution. Furthermore, Putnam reads Kant as overcoming thepernicious scientific realist distinction between primary and (...) secondaryqualities, between things that really exist and their projections, adistinction that haunts modern philosophy. Putnam''s revitalisation of Kantis not just of historical interest, but challenges contemporary versions ofscientific realism. Furthermore, Putnam has highlighted themes which havenot received the attention they deserve in Kantian exegesis, namely, theproblematic role of primary and secondary qualities in Kant''s empiricalrealism, and the extent of Kant''s commitment to conceptual pluralism.However, I argue that Putnam''s qualified allegiance to Kant exposes him tosome of the same metaphysical problems that affected Kant, namely, thefamiliar problem of postulating an absolute reality (Ding an sich), while atthe same time disavowing the meaningfulness of so doing. In conclusion Isuggest that Putnam might consider Hegel''s attempts to solve this problem inKant as a way of furthering his own natural realism. (shrink)
One of the most influential contemporary philosophers, Hilary Putnam's involvement in philosophy spans philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, ontology and epistemology and logic. This edited volume explores Putnam's contribution to the contemporary realist and pragmatist debate and includes Putnam's comments on each issue raised.
While the influential analytical philosopher Hilary Putnam has made significant contributions to philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and philosophy of science, he isn't generally regarded as a philosopher of religion or a theologian. Nonetheless, I argue that his work should be of great interest to philosophers of religion and theologians. Focusing on the relationship between science and religion, this paper explores the importance of Putnam's attempt to reconcile his anti-metaphysical stance and his commitment to a religious form of (...) life for theology. I first demonstrate why an anti-metaphysical stance and a commitment to Judaism can be deemed contradictory, and then characterize Putnam's anti-metaphysical stance as a modus vivendi to avoid both of what I call analytic and scientistic metaphysics. In a third step I offer my interpretation of Putnam's way of relating science and religion without metaphysics in the qualified sense, and subsequently spell out some important consequences of the emerging picture for theology. In my conclusion I give an account of Putnam as a transitional thinker, and draw a parallel between some of his work and Kierkegaard's “leap of faith”. (shrink)
In 1922 Skolem delivered an address before the Fifth Congress of Scandinavian Mathematicians in which he pointed out what he called a "relativity of set-theoretic notions". This "relativity" has frequently been regarded as paradoxical; but today, although one hears the expression "the Lowenheim-Skolem Paradox", it seems to be thought of as only an apparent paradox, something the cognoscenti enjoy but are not seriously troubled by. Thus van Heijenoort writes, "The existence of such a 'relativity' is sometimes referred to as the (...) Lowenheim-Skolem Paradox. (shrink)
The paper I gave at the Dublin conference celebrating Hilary Putnam’s 80th birthday was “Resurrecting Biological Essentialism” (2008). This was suitable for a celebratory event because it defended Putnam’s position on biological essentialism (1975) from the consensus in the philosophy of biology. This consensus has led to some severe criticisms of Putnam. Michael Ruse, for example, places Putnam, along with Saul Kripke and David Wiggins, “somewhere to the right of Aristotle” on essentialism and talks of them showing “an almost (...) proud ignorance of the organic world” (1987, 358n). John Dupré argues that the views of Putnam and Kripke are fatally divergent from “some actual biological facts and theories” (1981, 66). I argue that the consensus is quite wrong about essentialism and hence that these criticisms are misplaced. (shrink)
In recent and not so recent years, fallacy theory has sustained numerous challenges, challenges which have seen the theory charged with lack of systematicity as well as failure to deliver significant insights into its subject matter. In the following discussion, I argue that these criticisms are subordinate to a more fundamental criticism of fallacy theory, a criticism pertaining to the lack of intelligibility of this theory. The charge of unintelligibility against fallacy theory derives from a similar charge against philosophical theories (...) of truth and rationality developed by Hilary Putnam. I examine how Putnam develops this charge in the case of the conception of rationality pursued by logical positivism. Following that examination, I demonstrate the significance of this charge for how we proceed routinely to analyse one informal fallacy, the fallacy of petitio principii. Specifically, I argue that the significance of this charge lies in its issuance of a rejection of the urge to theorise in fallacy inquiry in general and petitio inquiry in particular. My conclusion takes the form of guidelines for the post-theoretical pursuit of fallacy inquiry. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam first published the consistency objection against Ludwig Wittgenstein’s account of mathematics in 1979. In 1983, Putnam and Benacerraf raised this objection against all conventionalist accounts of mathematics. I discuss the 1979 version and the scenario argument, which supports the key premise of the objection. The wide applicability of this objection is not apparent; I thus raise it against an imaginary axiomatic theory T similar to Peano arithmetic in all relevant aspects. I argue that a conventionalist can explain (...) the consistency of T and suggest that an analogous explanation can be provided for the consistency of Peano arithmetic. (shrink)
This specially commissioned collection discusses his contribution to the realist and pragmatist debate. Hilary Putnam comments on the issues raised in each article, making it invaluable for any scholar of his work.
In this detailed study, Christopher Norris defends the kinds of arguments advanced by the early realist, Hilary Putnam. Norris makes a point of placing Putnam's work in a wider philosophical context, and relating it to various current debates in epistemology and philosophy of science. Much like Putnam, Norris is willing to take full account of opposed viewpoints while maintaining a vigorously argued commitment to the values of debate and enquiry.
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. (shrink)
In a series of interesting and influential papers on semantics, Hilary Putnam has developed what he calls a “post-verificationist” theory of meaning. As part of this work, and not I think the most important part, Putnam defends a limited version of the analytic-synthetic distinction. In this paper I will survey and evaluate Putnam’s defense of analyticity and explore its relationship to broader concerns in semantics. Putnam’s defense of analyticity ultimately fails, and I want to show here exactly why it (...) fails. However, I will also argue that this very failure helps open the prospect of a new optimism concerning the theory of meaning, a theory of meaning finally liberated from the dead weight of the notions of analyticity and necessary truth. Putnam’s work, in fact, makes valuable contributions to such a theory. (shrink)
Hilary Putnam's famous arguments criticizing Tarski's theory of truth are evaluated. It is argued that they do not succeed to undermine Tarski's approach. One of the arguments is based on the problematic idea of a false instance of T-schema. The other ignores various issues essential for Tarski's setting such as language-relativity of truth definition.
The critical focus of this paper is on a claim made explicitly by Gilbert Harman and accepted implicitly by numerous others, the claim that naturalism supports concurrent defense of scientific objectivism and moral relativism. I challenge the assumptions of Harman's ‘argument from naturalism' used to support this combination of positions, utilizing. Hilary Putnam’s ‘companions in guilt’ argument in order to counter it. The paper concludes that while domain-specific anti-realism is often warranted, Harman’s own views about the objectivity of facts (...) and the subjectivity of values are better seen as stemming from scientistic ideals of knowledge than from dictates of naturalism. Scientists qua scientists make value judgments, and setting aside scientistic assumptions and unrealizable conceptions of scientific objectivity should lead us to more symmetrical metaphilosophical conception of epistemic and ethical normativity than that which underlies Harman's account. (shrink)
Eine Konzeption von Wahrheit und Vernunft ist Putnams Thema, deren Wahrheitsbegrili iiber das Menschenmogliche hinweg sich erhebt und deren Vernunftbegriff nicht hoch genug greift, um grundlegende Ziige der nienschlichen Rationalitat zu erfassen. Vornehmlich dieser zweite Punkt ist Gegenstand der letzten vier Kapitel..
Critics of John McDowell’s Mind and World have by and large failed to take sufficient notice of the transcendental context within whichMcDowell situates his work—a failure that has adversely affected their criticisms. In this paper, I make clear this transcendental context and show how it figures in the transcendental argument I see McDowell offering in Mind and World. Interpreting McDowell’s argument in this way, I further argue, helps to answer some of the most pressing objections to what he is doing (...) in Mind and World, particularly certain objections made by Robert Brandom and Hilary Putnam. (shrink)
The paper sketches an ontological solution to an epistemological problem in the philosophy of science. Taking the work of Hilary Kornblith and Brian Ellis as a point of departure, it presents a realist solution to the Humean problem of induction, which is based on a scientific essentialist interpretation of the principle of the uniformity of nature. More specifically, it is argued that use of inductive inference in science is rationally justified because of the existence of real, natural kinds of (...) things, which are characterized as such by the essential properties which all members of a kind necessarily possess in common. The proposed response to inductive scepticism combines the insights of epistemic naturalism with a metaphysical outlook that is due to scientific realism. (shrink)
In the following discussion, I examine what constitutes the dialectical strain in Putnam’s thought. As part of this examination, I consider Putnam’s (1981) criticism of the fact/value dichotomy. I compare this criticism to Putnam’s analysis of the metaphysical realist’s position, a position which has occupied Putnam’s thinking more than any other philosophical stance. I describe how Putnam pursues a chargeof self-refutation against the metaphysical realist and against the proponent of a fact/value dichotomy, a charge which assumes dialectical significance. So it (...) is that the self-refuting nature of these positions is linked to their unintelligibility. My conclusion relates Putnam’s dialectical project to his wider philosophical ambitions, ambitions which are influenced in large part by Wittgensteinian considerations. (shrink)