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Summary Internal realism was a position held between approximately 1977--90 by Hilary Putnam. This involved rejecting the "God's Eye Point of View" that Putnam thought was characteristic of metaphysical realism. For Putnam, internal realism always involved a commitment to the idea that truth is (somehow) epistemically constrained, and to (some version of) conceptual relativism. Certain positions adopted by other authors, which involve some commitment to one or both of these ideas, are sometimes also characterised as varities of internal realism.        
Key works Putnam's first statement of internal realism is in 'Realism and Reason' (1977, his address to the APA). Here he presented his model-theoretic arguments against metaphysical realism, a thumbnail of the brain-in-vat argument, and various reflections on conceptual relativism. Both this work and the (more technical) 'Models and Reality' (1980) emphasised the importance of "verificationist semantics". In Reason Truth and History (1981), Putnam developed internal realism in great detail, and probed the significance of his viewpoint for ethics and the philosophy of mind. This drew several famous reactions: Devitt 1983 maintained that internal realism was a version of idealism; and Lewis 1984 maintained that "realism needs realism". Putnam's subsequent defences of internal realism -- including The Many Faces of Realism (1987) and many essays in his Realism with a Human Face (1990) -- suggested a somewhat looser epistemic constraint, and placed the focus more squarely on conceptual relativism. By 1990 Putnam had abandoned internal realism (though not conceptual relativism) in favour of natural realism, a transition he describes in his 'Sense, nonsense, and the senses' (1994). Many of these themes -- including the transitions, and the legacy of internal realism -- are discussed in Button 2013.
Introductions Putnam 1977; Putnam 1980; Putnam 1981 (esp. chs.1-3)
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  1. Kant and Putnam: Internal Realism and Truth.Mark Lafrenz - manuscript
    I provide in this paper an examination of the influence of Immanuel Kant on the internal realist Hilary Putnam. I begin by discussing Putnam’s transition from external, or metaphysical, realism to internal realism, and argue in favor of the view that Kant is best understood as an internal realist. Where Putnam is concerned, I am interested here only in his versions of external and internal realism and not with his more recent views. Having laid out a case for internal realism, (...)
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  2. Brains in Vats and Model Theory.Tim Button - forthcoming - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Brain in a Vat. Cambridge University Press.
    Hilary Putnam’s BIV argument first occurred to him when ‘thinking about a theorem in modern logic, the “Skolem–Löwenheim Theorem”’ (Putnam 1981: 7). One of my aims in this paper is to explore the connection between the argument and the Theorem. But I also want to draw some further connections. In particular, I think that Putnam’s BIV argument provides us with an impressively versatile template for dealing with sceptical challenges. Indeed, this template allows us to unify some of Putnam’s most enduring (...)
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  3. Hilary Putnam, Words and Life.M. De Gaynesford - forthcoming - Radical Philosophy.
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  4. Phenomenology, Empiricism, and Constructivism in Paolo Parrini's Positive Philosophy.Andrea Pace Giannotta - 2020 - In Federica Buongiorno, Vincenzo Costa & Roberta Lanfredini (eds.), Phenomenology in Italy. Authors, Schools, Traditions. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 161-178.
    In this work, I discuss the role of Husserl’s phenomenology in Paolo Parrini’s positive philosophy. In the first section, I highlight the presence of both empiricist and constructivist elements in Parrini’s anti-foundationalist and anti-absolutist conception of knowledge. In the second section, I stress Parrini’s acknowledgement of the crucial role of phenomenology in investigating the empirical basis of knowledge, thanks to its analysis of the relationship between form and matter of cognition. In the third section, I point out some lines of (...)
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  5. Putnam's Internal Realism in Retrospect.Howard Sankey - 2018 - Análisis. Revista de Investigación Filosófica 5 (1):27-50.
    As is well known, Putnam changed his philosophical position on a number of occasions throughout his career. In this paper, I reconsider the position of internal realism which Putnam defended from the mid-1970’s until around 1990. The paper opens with a discussion of the position that Putnam called “metaphysical realism”, since his internal realism emerged out of a critique of that position. The paper then briefly presents the internal realist view as one which involves an epistemic conception of truth, as (...)
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  6. Hilary Putnam: An Era of Philosophy Has Ended.Sanjit Chakraborty - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (1):1-6.
  7. Hilary Putnam (1926-2016): A Lifetime Quest to Understand the Relationship Between Mind, Language, and Reality.David Leech Anderson - 2016 - Mind and Matter 14 (1):87-95.
    This is an extended intellectual obituary for Hilary Putnam.
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  8. Putnam’s Conception of Truth.Massimo Dell'Utri - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (2):5-22.
    After stressing how the attempt to provide a plausible account of the connection between language and the world was one of Putnam’s constant preoccupations, this article describes the four stages his thinking about the concepts of truth and reality went through. Particular attention is paid to the kinds of problems that made him abandon each stage to enter the next. The analysis highlights how all the stages but one express a general non-epistemic stance towards truth and reality—the right stance, according (...)
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  9. Arguing About Realism: Adjudicating the Putnam-Devitt Dispute.Fletcher Jade - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (2):39-53.
    In this paper I want to adjudicate the dispute between those philosophers who do and those who do not think that the philosophy of language can illuminate metaphysical questions. To this end, I take the debate between Devitt and Putnam as a case study and diagnose what I take to be illuminating about their disagreement over metaphysical realism. I argue that both Putnam and Devitt are incorrect in their assessment of the significance of the model theoretic argument for realism. That, (...)
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  10. Reading Putnam, Edited by Maria Baghramian. [REVIEW]Tim Button - 2014 - Mind 123 (490):569-575.
    Reading Putnam consists largely of papers from the fantastic ‘Putnam @80’ conference (organised by Maria Baghramian in 2007) together with replies from Hilary Putnam. Given the diversity of Putnam’s work, the papers in this collection cover many different topics. This makes the collection difficulty to read but, ultimately, extremely rewarding. In this review, I focus on the contributions from Michael Devitt, Charles Parsons, Richard Boyd, Ned Block, Charles Travis and John McDowell, together with Putnam’s responses. My aim is to highlight (...)
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  11. Review of Tim Button's The Limits of Realism. [REVIEW]Lieven Decock - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (01.07).
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  12. Book Review: Jeff Buechner, Gödel, Putnam, and Functionalism: A New Reading of Representation and Reality. [REVIEW]Witold M. Hensel & Marcin Miłkowski - 2014 - Journal of Cognitive Science 15 (3):391-402.
  13. Putnam Writing: Argumentative Pluralism and American Irony.Fergal McHugh - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:365-376.
    Putnam’s style is rarely discussed in the secondary literature. In this paper I provide one approach to the kind of writing that philosophy becomes in Putnam’s hands. I focus on Putnam’s argumentative pluralism and, more specifically, the practical form that pluralism takes in Putnam’s commitment to the essay form. I argue that Putnam’s use of the essay form is a crucial expression of his pluralism. Looking at some ancestors of the Putnam essay, I pay attention to the specific hybrid qualities (...)
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  14. Tim Button , The Limits of Realism . Reviewed By. [REVIEW]J. T. M. Miller - 2014 - Philosophy in Review 34 (3-4):151-154.
  15. ‘Biologising’ Putnam: Saving the Realism in Internal Realism.Michael Vlerick - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):271-283.
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  16. The Limits of Realism, by Tim Button. 264 + Xi P., Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013. [REVIEW]Nathan Wildman - 2014 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 68 (3):433-37.
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  17. The Limits of Realism.Tim Button - 2013 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Tim Button explores the relationship between minds, words, and world. He argues that the two main strands of scepticism are deeply related and can be overcome, but that there is a limit to how much we can show. We must position ourselves somewhere between internal realism and external realism, and we cannot hope to say exactly where.
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  18. Hilary Putnam – Rolf Schock Prize Laureate.Sven Ove Hansson - 2013 - Theoria 79 (3):189-189.
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  19. Disagreement in Scientific Ontologies.David Ludwig - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie (1):1-13.
    The aim of this article is to discuss the nature of disagreement in scientific ontologies in the light of case studies from biology and cognitive science. I argue that disagreements in scientific ontologies are usually not about purely factual issues but involve both verbal and normative aspects. Furthermore, I try to show that this partly non-factual character of disagreement in scientific ontologies does not lead to a radical deflationism but is compatible with a “normative ontological realism.” Finally, I argue that (...)
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  20. Reading Putnam.Maria Baghramian (ed.) - 2012 - Routledge.
    Hilary Putnam is one of the world’s leading philosophers. His highly original and often provocative ideas have set the agenda for a variety of debates in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. His now famous philosophical thought experiments, such as the ‘Twin earth’ and ‘the brains in the vat’ have become part of the established canon in philosophy and cognitive science. _Reading Putnam_ is an outstanding overview and assessment of Hilary Putnam’s work by a team of (...)
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  21. Tracking Down Putnam on the Realism Issue.Michael Devitt - 2012 - In Maria Baghramian (ed.), Reading Putnam. Routledge. pp. 101.
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  22. Nuovo Realismo FAQ: New Realism FAQ.Maurizio Ferraris - 2011 - Nóema 2:1-14.
    Il vero punto, nel confronto tra realisti e postmodernisti, non è ovviamente l’affermazione o negazione dell’esistenza del mondo esterno, ma il costruzionismo: quanto incidono gli schemi concettuali nella costruzione della realtà naturale e sociale? Infatti nessun realista negherebbe che l’IVA dipenda da schemi concettuali . Quello che il realista si chiede è, appunto, fin dove si spinge l’azione degli schemi concettuali, ed è qui che si manifesta il dissidio tra realisti e postmodernisti. Questi ultimi sono molto più generosi nella lista (...)
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  23. Hegel’s Philosophy—in Putnam’s Vat?J. M. Fritzman - 2011 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):7-25.
    Using Putnam’s brain-in-a-vat thought experiment, this article argues that interpretations which assert that Hegel’s philosophy, or some portion of it, develops inan entirely a priori manner are incoherent. An alternative reading is then articulated.
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  24. Por Que Não Devemos Ser Representacionistas: A Reconciliação de Hilary Putnam Com a Filosofia da Percepção.Sofia Miguens - 2011 - Revista Filosófica de Coimbra 20 (40):485-504.
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  25. Dadaism: Restrictivism as Militant Quietism.Tim Button - 2010 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (3pt3):387-398.
    Can we quantify over everything: absolutely, positively, definitely, totally, every thing? Some philosophers have claimed that we must be able to do so, since the doctrine that we cannot is self-stultifying. But this treats restrictivism as a positive doctrine. Restrictivism is much better viewed as a kind of militant quietism, which I call dadaism. Dadaists advance a hostile challenge, with the aim of silencing everyone who holds a positive position about ‘absolute generality’.
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  26. Putnam on What Isn’T in the Head.Michael McGlone - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):199-205.
    In "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" Putnam argues, among other things, that "'meanings' just ain't in the head". Putnam's central arguments in favor of this conclusion are unsound. The arguments in question are the famous intra-world Twin Earth arguments, given on pages 223-227 of the article in question. Each of these arguments relies on a premise to the effect that this or that Twin Earth scenario is both logically possible and one in which certain individuals are in the same overall "psychological (...)
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  27. Is Everything Relative? Anti-Realism, Truth and Feminism.Mari Mikkola - 2010 - In A. Hazlett (ed.), New Waves in Metaphysics. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This paper takes issue with anti-realist views that eschew objectivity. Minimally, objectivity maintains that an objective gap between what is the case and what we take to be the case exists. Some prominent feminist philosophers and theorists endorse anti-realism that rejects such a gap. My contention is that this is bad news for political movements like feminism since this sort of anti-realism fosters radical relativism; feminists, then, must retain a commitment to objectivity. However, some anti-realist feminists, who take truth to (...)
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  28. The Absolute Conception : Putnam Vs Williams.Simon Blackburn - 2008 - In Daniel Callcut (ed.), Reading Bernard Williams. Routledge.
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  29. Internal Realism.Manuel Bremer - 2008 - In P. Hannah (ed.), An Anthology of Philosophical Studies.
    This essay characterizes a version of internal realism. In §1 I will argue that for semantical reasons we should be realists of a strong kind. In §2 I plead for an internalistic setting of realism starting from the thesis that truth is, at least, not a non-epistemic concept. We have to bear the consequences of this in form of a more complicated concept of truth. The ‘internal’ of ‘internal realism’ points to the justification aspect of truth. The ‘realism’ of ‘internal (...)
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  30. The Threat of Cultural Relativism: Hilary Putnam and the Antidote of Falibilism.Massimo Dell'Utri - 2008 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 4 (2):75-86.
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  31. Following Putnam’s Trail: On Realism and Other Issues.María Uxía Rivas Monroy, Celesta Cancela Silva & Concha Martínez Vidal (eds.) - 2008 - Brill | Rodopi.
    _Following Putnam’s Trail_ addresses Putnam’s path through important philosophical problems. One outstanding feature of Putnam’s philosophy has been his contribution to the development of American pragmatism as well as his many changes of mind when thinking about realism. Realism and pragmatism are indeed the central focus of the contributions to the volume. The book includes a defence of pragmatism by Putnam himself, and several commentaries on it. This volume should be of interest both to scholars who specialize in analytical philosophy (...)
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  32. Review of Hilary Putnam's Ethics Without Ontology. [REVIEW]Richard W. Field - 2007 - Southwest Philosophy Review 23 (2):111-115.
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  33. Hilary Putnam. Contemporary Philosopher in Focus. [REVIEW]Lars-Göran Johansson - 2007 - Theoria 73 (1):73-81.
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  34. El realismo y la fijación de la referencia.Silvio Pinto - 2007 - Manuscrito 30 (1):9-34.
    En este trabajo intento mostrar, en primer lugar, que el realismo interno de Hilary Putnam no logra explicar filosóficamente la fijación de la referencia de las expresiones del lenguaje cotidiano. En segundo lugar, sugiero una explicación alternativa del mecanismo de fijación de la referencia apelando al concepto de interpretación radical; además, el enfoque interpretativo lo concebiré como una variante del realismo que acepta la relatividad conceptual, pero rechaza la relatividad ontológica.This paper intends to show, first, that Hilary Putnam’s internal realism (...)
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  35. Beween Scylla and Charybdis: Does Dummett Have a Way Through?Hilary Putnam - 2007 - In Randall E. Auxier & Lewis Edwin Hahn (eds.), The Philosophy of Michael Dummett. Open Court. pp. 155--67.
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  36. Hilary Putnam.Maximilian De Gaynesford - 2006 - Routledge.
    Putnam is one of the most influential philosophers of recent times, and his authority stretches far beyond the confines of the discipline. However, there is a considerable challenge in presenting his work both accurately and accessibly. This is due to the width and diversity of his published writings and to his frequent spells of radical re-thinking. But if we are to understand how and why philosophy is developing as it is, we need to attend to Putnam's whole career. He has (...)
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  37. Internal Realism and the Problem of Religious Diversity.Victoria S. Harrison - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (3):287-301.
    This article applies Hilary Putnam’s theory of internal realism to the issue of religious plurality. The result of this application – ‘internalist pluralism’ – constitutes a paradigm shift within the Philosophy of Religion. Moreover, internalist pluralism succeeds in avoiding the major difficulties faced by John Hick’s famous theory of religious pluralism, which views God, or ‘the Real,’ as the noumenon lying behind diverse religious phenomena. In side-stepping the difficulties besetting Hick’s revolutionary Kantian approach, without succumbing to William Alston’s critique of (...)
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  38. Yemima Ben-Menahem, Ed., Hilary Putnam Reviewed By.Rockney Jacobsen - 2006 - Philosophy in Review 26 (5):325-327.
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  39. Hilary Putnam and the Promise of Pluralism.Joseph Margolis - 2006 - Contemporary Pragmatism 3 (2):15-25.
    This symposium contribution discusses the conceptions of relativism and pluralism which are relevant to Hilary Putnam's book Ethics without Ontology.
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  40. Putnam’s Conception of Ontology.Sami Pihlström - 2006 - Contemporary Pragmatism 3 (2):1-13.
    This symposium contribution discusses the conception of ontology which is used in Hilary Putnam's book Ethics without Ontology.
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  41. Models, Truth, and Realism.Barry Taylor - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    Barry Taylor's book mounts a major new argument against one of the fundamental tenets of much contemporary philosophy, the idea that we can make sense of reality as existing objectively, independently of our capacities to come to know it. He concludes that there is no defensible notion of truth which preserves the theses of traditional realism, nor any extant position sufficiently true to the ideals of that doctrine to inherit its title. In presenting his case Taylor engages with many key (...)
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  42. Ethical Objectivity Humanly Speaking: Reflections on Putnam’s Ethics Without Ontology.Mark Timmons - 2006 - Contemporary Pragmatism 3 (2):27-38.
    This symposium contribution discusses the conception of ethical objectivity found in the metaethical views of Hilary Putnam's book Ethics without Ontology.
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  43. Hilary Putnam.Yemima Ben-Menahem (ed.) - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
    The richness of Putnam's philosophical oeuvre consists not only in the broad spectrum of problems addressed, but also in the transformations and restructuring his positions have undergone over the years. The essays collected in this volume are sensitive to both these dimensions. They discuss Putnam's major philosophical contributions to the theory of meaning, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science and mathematics, and moral theory. But, in addition, tracing threads of change and continuity, they analyze the dynamics underlying the (...)
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  44. Putnam on Skepticism.Yemima Ben-Menahem - 2005 - In Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press. pp. 125--55.
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  45. Contemporary Philosophy in Focus: Hilary Putnam.Yemima Ben-Menahim (ed.) - 2005 - Cambridge University Press.
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  46. Internal Realism and Rationality in the Thinking of Hilary Putnam.R. Corvi - 2005 - Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica 97 (3):473-496.
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  47. Interpreting Putnam's Dialectical Method in Philosophy.Louise Cummings - 2005 - Metaphilosophy 36 (4):476-489.
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  48. Realism, Beyond Miracles.Axel Mueller & Arthur Fine - 2005 - In Yemima Ben-Menahim (ed.), Contemporary Philosophy in Focus: Hilary Putnam. Cambridge University Press. pp. 83-124.
    Two things about Hilary Putnam have not changed throughout his career: some (including Putnam himself) have regarded him as a “realist” and some have seen him as a philosopherwho changed his positions (certainly with respect to realism) almost continually. Apparently, what realism meant to him in the 1960s, in the late seventies and eighties, and in the nineties, respectively, are quite different things. Putnam indicates this by changing prefixes: scientific, metaphysical, internal, pragmatic, commonsense, but always realism. Encouraged by Putnam’s own (...)
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  49. Hilary Putnam on Realism, Truth and Reason.Christopher Norris - 2005 - Philosophy Now 49:17-19.
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  50. Philosophy Should Not Be Just an Academic Discipline: A Dialogue with Hilary Putnam.Hilary Putnam & Janos Boros - 2005 - Common Knowledge 11 (1):126-135.
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