The many faces of realism

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Open Court, 1987 - Fiction - 98 pages
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"The first two lectures place the alternative I defend--a kind of pragmatic realism--in a historical and metaphysical context. Part of that context is provided by Husserl's remark that the history of modern philosophy begins ith Galileo--that is, modern philosophy has been hypnotized by the idea that scientific facts are all the facts there are. Another part is provided by the analysis of a very simple example of what I call 'contextual relativity'. They position I defend holds that truth depends on conceptual scheme and it is nonetheless 'real truth'.

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Contents

Preface
1
The Trail of the Human Serpent is Over All
16
Equality and Our Moral Image
41
Copyright

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About the author (1987)

According to John Passmore, Hilary Putnam's work is a "history of recent philosophy in outline" (Recent Philosophers). He adds that writing "about "Putnam's philosophy' is like trying to capture the wind with a fishing-net." Born in Chicago and educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Los Angeles, Putnam taught at Northwestern University, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before moving to Harvard University in 1965. In his early years at Harvard, he was an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam. Although he writes in the idiom of analytic philosophy, Putnam addresses major themes relating science to ethics and epistemology. If these themes are reminiscent of David Hume---as, for that matter, is much of analytic philosophy---his treatment of them is not. Putnam's work is far more profoundly shaped by recent work in logic, foundations of mathematics, and science than would have been possible for Hume; Putnam has contributed to each. He differs from Hume and stands more in the tradition of Willard Quine and American pragmatism in his treatment of the crucial distinctions between analytic and synthetic statements and between facts and values. Both distinctions, sharply made by Hume, are claimed by Putnam not to be absolute. He attempts to show, for example, that basic concepts of philosophy, science, and mathematics all are interrelated, so that mathematics bears more similarity to empirical reasoning than is customarily acknowledged.

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