Hilary Putnam

Hilary Putnam

Born: 1926.

Biography

Putnam taught at Northwestern University, Princeton University, and MIT, until he became Walter Beverly Pearson Professor of Modern Mathematics and Mathematical Logic at Harvard University in 1976.

Drawing on his expertise in the theory of recursive functions and Turing machines, Putnam formulated a philosophical position that he named 'functionalism' in the 1950s.

Functionalism became very influential in the philosophy of mind. According to this theory, the mind is, basically, a computing machine, and thus it is organization, and not material composition, that is relevant to the study of cognition.

Putnam's argument for this relies on the intuition that the same mental state can be realized in different material substrates. He has since rejected functionalism by broadening this claim that the mental is multiply realizable.

Putnam now believes that different computational, or Turing machine states can realize the same mental state, and thus that the mind cannot be identified with any particular computing machine.

Putnam's espousal of a strong form of multiple realizability of the mental has led him to question the importance of studying the brain, the 'implementation of the mind', to understanding the mind.

He is also a critic of connectionist models of mental functioning. The following publications are good entry points into Putnam's formidable corpus: Philosophical Papers (3 vols., 1975-83), and Representation and Reality (1988).

Major Books of Hilary Putnam

- The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays, 2002
- Enlightenment and Pragmatism, 2001
- Epistemology, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science: Essays in Honour of Carl G. Hempel, edited with Wilhelm K. Essler and Wolfgang Stegmüller, 1985
- Ethics Without Ontology, 2004
- Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein, 2008
- The Many Faces of Realism, 1987
- Meaning and the Moral Sciences, 1978
- Methodology, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Essays in Honour of Wolfgang Stegmüller on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, edited with Wilhelm K. Essler and Carl G. Hempel, 1983
- Methodology, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Essays in Honour of Wolfgang Stegmüller on the Occasion of His 80th Birthday, edited with Wilhelm K. Essler and Carl G. Hempel, 1985
- Philosophy of Logic, 1971
- Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings, edited with Paul Benacerraf, 1964
- Philosophical Papers V1: Mathematics, Matter and Method, 1975
- Philosophical Papers V2: Mind, Language and Reality, 1975
- Philosophical Papers V3: Realism and Reason, 1983
- Pragmatism, 1995
- Realism with a Human Face, 1992
- Reason, Truth and History, 1981
- Renewing Philosophy, 1995
- Representation and Reality, 1991
- The Threefold Cord, 2001
- Words and Life, with James Conant, 1995

Major Articles of Hilary Putnam

- 1954, Synonymity, and the Analysis of Belief Sentences, Analysis
- 1956, Reds, Greens, and Logical Analysis, The Philosophical Review
- 1956, Mathematics and the Existence of Abstract Entities, Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
- 1957, Psychological Concepts, Explication, and Ordinary Language, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1957, Decidability and Essential Undecidability, The Journal of Symbolic Logic
- 1957, Three-Valued Logic, Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
- 1960, An Unsolvable Problem in Number Theory, The Journal of Symbolic Logic
- 1962, It Ain't Necessarily So, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1964, On Hierarchies and Systems of Notations, Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society
- 1964, Robots: Machines or Artificially Created Life?, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1965, On the Notational Independence of Various Hierarchies of Degrees of Unsolvability, The Journal of Symbolic Logic
- 1965, More about `About', with J. S. Ullian, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1967, Mathematics without Foundations, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1967, Time and Physical Geometry, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1968, Degrees of Unsolvability of Constructible Sets of Integers, The Journal of Symbolic Logic
- 1973, Meaning and Reference, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1974, Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Science, PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
- 1976, What Is "Realism"?, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
- 1977, Realism and Reason, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association
- 1981, The Impact of Science on Modern Conceptions of Rationality, Synthese
- 1981, Quantum Mechanics and the Observer, Erkenntnis (1975-)
- 1982, Why There Isn't a Ready-Made World, Synthese
- 1982, Why Reason Can't Be Naturalized, Synthese
- 1982, Three Kinds of Scientific Realism, The Philosophical Quarterly
- 1982, Beyond the Fact-Value Dichotomy, Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía
- 1982, Reply to Two Realists, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1983, Is There a Fact of the Matter about Fiction?, Poetics Today
- 1983, Vagueness and Alternative Logic, Erkenntnis (1975-)
- 1984, The Craving for Objectivity, New Literary History
- 1984, Proof and Experience, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
- 1985, Reflexive Reflections, Erkenntnis (1975-)
- 1985, A Comparison of Something with Something Else, New Literary History
- 1986, Rationality in Decision Theory and in Ethics , Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía
- 1988, Much Ado about Not Very Much, Daedalus
- 1994, Sense, Nonsense, and the Senses: An Inquiry into the Powers of the Human Mind, The Journal of Philosophy
- 1997, A Half Century of Philosophy, Viewed from Within, Daedalus

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