Phil 264 - Putnam-1 - Hilary Putnam's "Why there isn't a...

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Hilary Putnam's "Why there isn't a ready-made world (1983)" Significance of Putnam's work: Putnam has made significant contributions to several areas of philosophy, including: metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. With regard to metaphysics, he defends a modest version of realism, according to which: (i) statements can be true/false independently of our opinions as to their truth/falsity, despite the fact that (ii): there is no mind-independent world to which we have access. Putnam is also well-known for his view (in philosophy of language), according to which words refer to things in the world in virtue of a causal connection between the speaker's use of words (e.g. chair ) and things in the world to which the speaker intends to refer (e.g. chairs). In philosophy of mind, Putnam is best known for his computational view of the mind, according to which the mind and mental states/processes are analogous to the computational states/processes of a computer. In his article "Why there isn't a ready-made world," Putnam argues against the (metaphysical) view that there is a structured (or "ready-made") world that exists independently of our perception of it. He also proposes an alternative account of reality, appropriately described by the text's editors as a "mild" form of realism. Study Questions 1-9 1. What is metaphysical realism? The view that "we can think and talk about things as they are, independently of our minds, and that we can do this in virtue of a 'correspondence' relation between the terms in our language and some sorts of mind- independent entities." (Note how intuitive this view - which Putnam goes on to repudiate - is.) 2. What is the difference between Russell and Moore's version of metaphysical realism and the version that is more popular today? Russell and Moore held the ('strange' and 'dotty') view that sensibilia (sense data) are the mind-independent entities to which the words in our language refer. Today, metaphysical realists regard the mind- independent entities to which our words refer as material objects. They typically claim that our words refer to such things in virtue of a causal connection between the words (as used by speakers) and their intended referents. 3. What is essence? In the reading, Putnam mentions two views on essences. There is the view (held by medieval philosophers) that essences are "substantial forms," which exist "both in the thing and (minus the matter) in our minds." There is also the (apparently different) view that essential properties are intrinsic properties. What are "intrinsic"
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This note was uploaded on 11/15/2009 for the course PHIL 264 taught by Professor Reimer during the Spring '07 term at University of Arizona- Tucson.

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Phil 264 - Putnam-1 - Hilary Putnam's "Why there isn't a...

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