Hilary Putnam

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Hilary Putnam

Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926 in Chicago , Illinois , † March 13, 2016 in Arlington , Massachusetts ) was an American philosopher . He is considered to be one of the key figures in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind in the 20th century.


Putnam was the son of the translator and Romance scholar Samuel Putnam , who wrote as a journalist for the Daily Worker , an American Communist Party newspaper . Putnam's upbringing was secular, even though his mother Riva was Jewish . Putnam grew up in France for the first few years until the family returned to Pittsburgh in the USA in 1934 . At Central High School he met Noam Chomsky , with whom he was permanently friends, even if their views differed greatly. He studied philosophy and mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania . After completing his Bachelor of Arts , he continued his studies at Harvard University and later at the University of California, Los Angeles with Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach . There he obtained his Ph.D. from Hans Reichenbach in 1951. (Doctor of Philosophy) with a thesis on The Meaning of the Concept of Probability in Application to Finite Sequences . He then took on teaching positions at Northwestern University in Evanston / Illinois and in 1953 at Princeton University in New Jersey . Here he initially had a one-year contract as assistant professor, which was twice extended for three years. In 1960 he was given a permanent position (tenure) and at the same time became a member of the mathematics faculty, where he had been giving courses in mathematical logic for some time and made Turing machines his subject. In 1960 Putnam went to Oxford for a year as a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1961 he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There he met his wife, Ruth Anna Jacobs , who also taught philosophy at MIT. They married in 1962. Ruth Anna Jacobs, born in 1927 in Berlin, Germany, also had a Jewish mother, Marie Kohn, daughter of the doctor Hans Nathan Kohn . She escaped destruction by National Socialism, hiding in the Gotha villa of her non-Jewish grandparents Jacobs. She comes from an old Gotha family of scholars; the grandfather of her great-grandfather was the important archaeologist and writer Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Jacobs , the history painter Paul Emil Jacobs is her great-great-great-uncle. As a sign against anti-Semitism, the Putnam couple decided to raise their children in a household in which the Jewish way of life is cultivated. They therefore learned Hebrew and also the application of Jewish ceremonies. In 1994 Hilary and in 1998 Ruth Anna celebrated a belated Bar Mitzwah . In 1965 the Putnams moved to Harvard, where Hilary Putnam taught until his retirement in 2000. Until his death he was there "John Cogan University Professor emeritus".

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Putnam was very much against the Vietnam War and for the American civil rights movement . From 1968 he tried to realize these goals in the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), a Marxist-Leninist student party. Harvard University officials tried to censor Putnam for his political activities; Putnam was able to ward off this attempt with the help of a large number of friends and supporters. It is not known exactly when Putnam broke ties with the PLP, and by 1975 he had severed all contact with the organization. In 1997, at a meeting of former conscientious objectors in Boston, he admitted that he had made a mistake in joining the PLP. He says he was initially impressed by the PLP's engagement in alliances with other groups and by their willingness to infiltrate the army from within.

However, Putnam's publications on political issues are less numerous than his philosophical contributions. Worth mentioning here are the articles How Not to Solve Ethical Problems (1983) and Education for Democracy (1993).

Putnam was elected President of the American Philosophical Association in 1976 and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1966 and a corresponding member of the British Academy since 1978. In the academic year 1994/1995 Putnam was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . He was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize 2011 and the Lauener Prize 2012.


In his dissertation, The Meaning of the Concept of Probability in Application to Finite Sequences , Putnam dealt with two fundamental topics that were in the foreground of the current discussions at the time, on the one hand in logical empiricism and on the other in analytical philosophy: mathematical logic and the question after confirming scientific theories. As a result, Putnam has published a large number of essays on a wide range of topics, from the philosophy of mathematics and logic to the philosophy of science, epistemology, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, and - reinforced in his later work - political philosophy , to ethics and to the philosophy of religion. Putnam has contributed fundamental considerations to current debates. One problem with gaining an overview of his oeuvre is that the essays each concentrate on a certain aspect and Putnam's individual positions have changed so much over time that they are incompatible with earlier theses. Putnam's work is summarized in a series of anthologies, in which the most important essays are hardly linked by an internal structure. In these books, too, the historical thought development of Putnam is more likely to be reflected.

idea giver

In retrospect, Putnam names twelve philosophers who have had a particularly lasting influence on him in their own way, each with a basic idea that is important to him. From Morton White , his teacher in Pittsburgh - the pupil and later colleague of Quine , who advised him to go to Harvard - he learned to reject the dichotomy of analytical and synthetic propositions ( two dogmas of empiricism ) discussed since Kant ; consequently also the rejection of the dichotomy of facts and values. According to Putnam, White developed this view at the same time and in collaboration with Quine, with White rejecting Quine's reduction of theories to the sciences. Quine, for his part, had many influences on Putnam, first as a teacher and later as a colleague. Putnam took over from him, among other things, the conviction that mathematics must be thought of as an integral part of the entire sciences and not occupy an isolated position. His doctoral supervisor, Hans Reichenbach , primarily conveyed to Putnam the importance of clarifying the conceptual bases of theories, whereas he rejected Reichenbach's verificationism from the outset . Rudolf Carnap , who was spending his second year of a two-year study visit at the Institute for Advanced Study when Putnam arrived in Princeton, encouraged Putnam to study recursive inductive logic. From this theoretical field Putnam developed his theory of functionalism (computer as a model for intellectual activities), which he gave up at the latest with the work on his book "Representation and Reality". During a year of teaching at Princeton, Paul Ziff (1920–2003) held a semantic analysis seminar. As part of the seminar, in which, among others, Paul Benacerraf , Jerry Fodor , Jerrold Katz , Noam Chomsky , who worked at the Institute for Advanced Study for a year at the same time, and as guests from Oxford Christopher Kirwan and David Wiggins (* 1933) took part Putnam was particularly influenced by the thesis that from the point of view of empirical linguistics there are no arguments for noncognitivism with regard to ethical values. Putnam has followed this view over the years and has retained it in his more recent work The Collapse of the Fact / Value Dichotomy and Ethics Without Ontology . During a short stay of John Austin in Princeton in 1959, Putnam was so impressed that he spent his first sabbatical in Oxford in 1960/61, where he was invited by Austin to take part in his "Saturday Morning Group". Here Putnam came to appreciate the importance of Ordinary Language Philosophy, even though Austin died during his stay and Paul Grice took over the leadership of the group.

With Richard Boyd , whom Putnam had already met as a student at MIT, he worked closely at Harvard on questions of scientific realism and adopted from him the thesis that terms in a mature science usually have a reference and theories in a mature science usually have a reference Are approximated to the truth. This leads to the slogan-like thesis that scientific realism is the only epistemological position according to which the success of the sciences need not be viewed as a miracle. Putnam was also close friends at Harvard with James Conant , from whom he learned that a discussion with Wittgenstein is very helpful in clarifying terms and theoretical concepts without having to fall into a total criticism of metaphysics. Michael Dummett's William James Lectures in 1976 at Harvard helped Putnam to revise his concept of realism again. Over the years, this led to the abandonment of internal realism and the reformulation of one's own position from around 1990 as direct realism. Putnam also had a good friendship with Richard Rorty , even if the two could not agree on a number of points in the interpretation of James and Dewey. Out of these many topics, the question of representation stands out, which Rorty, like Derrida, strictly rejected. Putnam describes the mutual criticism as stimulating and serious at the same time. In Putnam's position of naive realism, which he developed with some detours, he feels particularly encouraged by John McDowell . As the last of his major ideas, Putnam refers to Stanley Cavell and his theory of moral perfectionism . Cavell made it clear to Putnam that authors such as Emerson, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Marx and Thoreau are to be seen as part of the philosophical debate and can significantly broaden the philosophical horizon. The result of these thoughts is Putnam's latest book on the Jewish philosophers Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas and Franz Rosenzweig.

Rejection of verificationism

While Putnam has constantly developed his position on a number of topics and accepted fundamental breaks in his philosophy, the rejection of verificationism was a persistent basic attitude that underpins all of his considerations, which is already found in his early essays.

Verificationism is a fundamental building block of logical empiricism , i.e. the philosophical position for which Putnam's early teachers Reichenbach and Carnap are regarded as outstanding representatives. It is characterized by the thesis that the truth of statements is either analytical if they relate to questions of mathematics or formal logic, or synthetic, if they can be checked and confirmed - verified - on the basis of empirical experience. The background assumption of verificationism is that there is an exact description of reality, which the sciences are increasingly approaching in the course of their research.

Philosophical statements about topics that cannot be empirically verified, e.g. Verificationists regard them as category errors, for example about ethical values ​​or questions of religion and art. Such statements deal with pseudo problems that cannot be solved by science or philosophy (i.e. classified as true or false), but are a question of (social) definition, i.e. of conventions. Putnam always included the rejection of conventionalism in his rejection of verificationism . He has rejected all positions that ultimately lead to an epistemological separation of facts and values, in their various aspects.

One of the consequences of logical empiricism is that subjective attitudes, sensations or emotions (in general: qualia ) can only be investigated with the methods of behaviorism , because statements from the first-person perspective cannot be made empirically comprehensible for a third party. Putnam argued here from the outset in a very pragmatic sense that it is not relevant to the truth of a psychological statement that it is defined by a certain catalog of symptoms (someone is angry when they blush, yell and wave their hands ) Rather, a term such as anger against the background of existing convictions is the content of a linguistic practice that can only be partially grasped by a term definition. The criteria that can be set for the empirical determination of a term such as anger are always inductive and fallible. Attempting to define a term such as anger also leads to a circle, because you cannot compile a catalog without already having a preliminary concept of anger. The attempt to find explanations for the causes of such phenomena in a verificationistic way is even more problematic. For example, statements about phenomena of multiple sclerosis (Putnam's example) cannot be translated into statements about the disease multiple sclerosis, because effects do not allow direct conclusions to be drawn about their causes. A competent speaker is required to establish these connections, who can fall back on experiences that go beyond knowledge that is solely linguistically determined.

"When I discover that one of the indicators I've used is a bad indicator (with a decreasing correlation to the new indicators), I'm not saying, 'Well, this person is in C because that's how I defined it' ; rather, I say 'this person does not have status C because I made a mistake in choosing the indicator'. "

The normal speaker refers to facts under normal circumstances without having clear criteria for identification. It is sufficient for him if his terms allow a sufficient distinction in practice and he is capable of learning by adapting his terms to newly acquired convictions.

Like Quine, Putnam rejects the distinction between analytical and synthetic judgments as it is made in logical empiricism. At the same time, Putnam points out that one should not go so far as to ignore the distinction between questions of meaning and questions of fact. There are purely tautological sentences such as 'a bachelor is an unmarried man', on the other hand definitional sentences such as 'water is H 2 O', which can be checked empirically. Four central ideas can be worked out, which are valid as background assumptions for all of Putnam's works:

  • metatheoretical: a pragmatic approach from the participant's perspective
  • content: possibility of error and improvement (fallibilism)
  • methodical: underdetermination of theories with regard to their possible applications
  • Epistemic: Realistic point of view when determining possible reference objects.

In the course of his philosophical development, Putnam has linked these central ideas with very different theories.

What theories are not

In a seminal 1960 essay (What Theories Are Not) Putnam applied his pragmatic approach to language to the field of philosophy of science. Here he dealt with the then common practice of distinguishing between observational statements and theoretical statements. The aim of the criticism is again logical empiricism, such as Carnap's late conception of theories as axiom systems. The theoretical language is then formulated as a calculus and is initially uninterpreted. The observation terms are used to describe the situation of empirical research (e.g. of experiments). Only they give the theoretical model its meaning.

According to Putnam, if theoretical terms, as opposed to observation terms, are understood to relate to the class of objects that are not observable, the problem arises that there are many things that are not observable, but no theoretical terms. This includes terms from the field of sensations. On the other hand, observation terms have theoretical implications, such as the term electrical charge can assume positive or negative values, while mass is only described with positive values. It is not only in measurement practice that there are many observation terms that also have the function of theoretical terms. For Putnam there are no sharp dividing lines here. On the other hand, it is undisputed for Putnam that theoretical concepts are required in order to develop scientific theories (systems of belief) at all,

“Why theoretical terms? Why such terms as radio star, virus or elementary particle? Because without such terms we cannot B. could talk about radio stars, viruses or elementary particles - and we want to talk about them in order to learn more about them, in order to better explain their behavior and their properties. "

Here the background assumption of realism becomes clear. The process of learning can only be explained if one assumes independence from signs and what is designated.

The separation of observation terms and theoretical terms in logical empiricism has its equivalent in the traditional distinction between things and ideas, for example in Berkeley and Mach . Because in positivism according to Putnam no reference to real things is assumed, but only to ideas, scientific theories are only understood as interpreted calculi .

“The positivist does not claim in a transtheoretical [theory-independent] sense of 'true' that a scientific theory is 'true'; the only transtheoretical terms he has are on the level of 'leads to successful prediction' and 'is easy'. Like the Berkeleyan, he must revert to the position that scientific theory is useful instead of being true or even close to true. "

Putnam sees one of the basic problems of positivism in the fact that it cannot offer a concept of truth that corresponds to scientific practice. The practicing scientist does not look for the simplest theory (which can be expressed in a calculus), but rather the one which corresponds to the truth with the highest probability. Likewise, the attempt to formulate a formal logic of confirmation cannot work because in positivism the meaning of a term is only given within a single theory. Because according to the positivists, similar to Feyerabend , the meaning of a term changes with the change in theory. With this, however, the meaning of a term cannot be trans-theoretically unified in a theory of confirmation. He doesn't have a stable reference. The problem of formalizability is particularly striking in the social sciences, which in the sense of positivism only have a low degree of scientificity. But in physics too, theories are linked to assumptions and additional hypotheses that can prove to be inaccurate over time without the meaning of the key terms having to change. For example, the concept of gravitation , which is transtheoretically valid for Putnam, even if the “history of celestial mechanics” had to be adapted again and again over the course of time from Newton to today. A classic example of Putnam is the description of an electron by Niels Bohr , who, around 1911, took the view that an electron could be assigned both a location and an impulse. In the context of quantum mechanics , developed around 1930, one came to the conclusion that either only the momentum or only the location of an electron can be determined. According to Putnam, Bohr referred to the concept of an electron in the same way in both theories. "In the philosophy of science it has been neglected too much that scientific problems just as often take the form of finding additional hypotheses as those of making predictions."

Putnam reinforces this argument with the miracle argument :

“The typical realistic argument against idealism is that it makes the success of science a miracle. [...] The modern positivist must also leave it unexplained (according to the attack of the realists) that 'electron calculi', 'space-time calculi' and 'DNA calculi' correctly predict observable phenomena when in reality there are no electrons, there are no curved space-time and no DNA molecules. If such things exist, then a natural explanation for the success of those theories is that they are partially true understandings of how they behave. […] But if these objects do not really exist at all, then it is a miracle that a theory that deals with attraction at a distance successfully predicts phenomena, it is a miracle that a theory that deals with curved space-time, successfully predicts phenomena, and the fact that the laws of the first theory are 'ultimately' deducible from the laws of the second theory has no methodological significance. "

Philosophy of mind

Putnam is one of the central theorists in the philosophy of mind . In the 1960s he developed a position that has come to be known as functionalism . It was originally based on an analogy from human consciousness to how computers work . The automata theory and the concept of the Turing machine provided the basis for the model. Automata can be described functionally, that is, with regard to the cause-effect relationships of certain states to other states, inputs and outputs. This should also be possible with humans. Mental states should be individuated through functional roles.

The rise of functionalism was associated with a rapid decline in the popularity of identity theory . Identity theory had claimed that mental states and neural states are identical. Putnam argued against it that this was not possible due to the multiple realizability of mental states. This means that beings can have the same mental state, even though they have completely different neuronal states. Here, too, an analogy to the computer was possible: the same software can run on computers with different hardware . The programs can therefore be implemented multiple times. Mental states should accordingly be the "software of the brain".

Putnam turned away from functionalism in the 1980s. He was of the opinion that mental states are neither neural nor functional states. Still, Putnam did not become a dualist. The dualist means that there are two types of objects: mental and physical. Putnam, on the other hand, suggested that the mind-body problem in its current form is based on a wrong view of ontology . If one turns away from metaphysical realism , the question of what the mind is identical with disappears. The mind is not reducible. This view is related to Putnam's anti-realist theory of internal realism.

In the course of the further development of his position, Putnam represents a version of naive realism based on John Langshaw Austin in his work The Threefold Cord (1999) . This correlated with a turn in the philosophy of the mind: Putnam now takes the view that the mind-body problem is based on linguistic problems and category errors. He sees a close connection between modern ideas , which range from Descartes to the present, with religious thinking that postulates a soul . The dualism as the position separates alone because it violates the principle of unity of physical systems. But even modern monisms such as the epiphenomenalism in Davidson or the differentiated physicalism in Jaegwon Kim are based for Putnam on the wrong idea of ​​a mediation of reality through sensory data or the like. Putnam calls such positions "Cartesianism cum Materialism". They include the separation of primary and secondary qualities in perception ( Locke ), which arises from the fact that the objects of perception are understood as representations that form the basis of mental states. Only by giving up the image of an “inner theater” can one avoid the “endless recycling” of various positions in the philosophy of mind. The mind is not an intangible part of ourselves, but a way of describing the application of certain abilities that we have. These superimpose ( supervise ) the brain activities and cannot be explained by reduction .

Philosophy of language

An important contribution from Putnam to the philosophy of language is the thesis that “meanings are not in the head” (“meaning just ain't in the head”). Putnam illustrates this with the "thought experiment of a twin earth ". He assumes that a person on earth sees a liquid and calls it "water", and a twin who is like him down to the last detail also sees a liquid on another planet and also calls it "water". If the liquid on the other planet is not H 2 O, but rather XYZ, then the two mean something different by “water”, although water has the same function for both. This perspective includes Kripke's thesis of rigid designators, which Putnam also applies to natural terms such as water, tiger or gold. If the Earthling knew that the liquid on Twin Earth is not H 2 O but XYZ, he would not call it water. XYZ is a different extension to the water of the earth and would therefore have a different meaning. Putnam's position is also referred to as “ semantic externalism ”, since the meaning does not arise a priori, but depends on an external influence.

Putnam continues to advocate the “universal linguistic division of labor”. Many members of a language community are familiar with the term gold. However, only some of them are able to distinguish gold from fool's gold on the basis of chemical knowledge.

“Every linguistic community has the kind of linguistic division of labor just described, that is, they use at least some expressions for which the following applies: The criteria linked to these expressions only know a subset of the set of all speakers who have mastered this expression and their use by other speakers is based on a specific cooperation between them and the speakers from the respective subsets. "

An exact determination of the extension of an expression is therefore often only possible for a group of speakers who specialize in it.

Thus the thesis put forward by logical empiricism (especially Rudolf Carnap ), based on Gottlob Frege , that the intention of an expression determines its extension , is not applicable according to Putnam. At the same time, Putnam rejects the thesis, which he himself previously advocated as functionalism , that meaning corresponds to a mental state. For Putnam (according to his more recent thesis of internal realism), meaning is to be judged externalistically, i.e. also determined by material and social environmental influences. The utterances and also the thoughts of a subject arise not only due to internal processes, but also as a function of external objects, facts or events. The language community determines the extension, but it also depends on the environment.

Another component of Putnam's philosophy of language is that of the stereotype . According to this, the normal speaker only knows the usual language usage of an expression to a limited extent, which is sufficient for successful communication. The term tiger is usually associated with a large cat with yellow fur and black stripes that lives in the jungle. Most people are not aware that it is the largest cat species and that there are nine subspecies. This applies to a large number of terms, be it “acid rain”, “business cycle” or “Himalayas”. Individual language skills play a subordinate role in a language community.

Philosophy of mathematics

Putnam contributed to the proof of the undecidability of Hilbert's 10th mathematical problem (solution of a Diophantine equation ).

The collection of essays Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings , which he published together with Paul Benacerraf in 1964, contains an introduction to the philosophy of mathematics.

Putnam was of the opinion that in mathematics, as in physics and other empirical natural sciences, no strictly logical proofs, but "quasi-empirical" methods are used, even if they are not expressly identified as such. As an example, he cited an attempt to prove Fermat's great theorem , which was carried out through many individual calculations . Even if such empirical knowledge is treated as a conjecture rather than rigorous evidence, it is used as a basis for developing mathematical ideas.

Philosophy of philosophy

Putnam's contributions to questions of so-called metaphilosophy are less well known than Richard Rorty's , but - in contrast to Rorty and other neo-pragmatists - try to avoid relativism .


Books and collections of articles

  • Meaning of the Concept of Probability in Application to Finite Sequences , dissertation from 1951, first printing: Garland Publishing 1990, Routledge Chapman & Hall, London 2011, ISBN 978-0-41568794-2 .
  • Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings . Edited with Paul Benacerraf. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1964 .; 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1983. ISBN 0-521-29648-X .
  • Philosophy of Logic . Harper and Row, New York 1971; George Allen and Unwin, London 1972. ISBN 0-04-160009-6 .
  • Philosophical Papers: Volume 1, Mathematics, Matter and Method . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1975, ISBN 0-521-29550-5 .
  • Philosophical Papers: Volume 2, Mind, Language and Reality . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1979, ISBN 0-521-29551-3 .
  • Meaning and the Moral Sciences . Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1978.
  • Reason, Truth, and History . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1981. (paperback 2004), ISBN 0-521-29776-1 .
  • Philosophical Papers: Volume 3, Realism and Reason. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1983. ISBN 0-521-31394-5 .
  • The Many Faces of Realism . Open Court, La Salle, Ill. 1987. ISBN 0-8126-9043-5 .
  • Representation and Reality . MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass 1988, ISBN 0-262-66074-1 .
  • Realism with a human face . Edited by James Conant . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1990. ISBN 0-674-74945-6 .
  • Pragmatism: An Open Question . Blackwell, Oxford 1995. ISBN 0-631-19343-X .
  • Renewing Philosophy . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1992, ISBN 0-674-76094-8 ( Gifford Lectures online )
  • Words and Life . Edited by James F. Conant. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1994. ISBN 0-674-95607-9 .
  • Pragmatism: An Open Question . Blackwell, Oxford 1995. ISBN 0-631-19343-X .
  • The Threefold Cord Mind, Body and World. Columbia University Press, New York 1999. ISBN 0-231-10287-9 .
  • The Collapse of the Fact / Value Dichotomy and Other Essays . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2004 ISBN 0-674-01380-8 .
  • Ethics Without Ontology . Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 2004 ISBN 0-674-01310-7 ( Review )
  • Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein . (Helen and Martin Schwartz Lectures in Jewish Studies) Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2008. ISBN 978-0-253-35133-3 .

German-language editions

  • Reason, Truth and History ( Reason, Truth, and History [1981]). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1982 ISBN 3-518-06034-1 ( review by Andreas Kemmerling)
  • Representation and reality ( Representation and Reality [1988]). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1991 ISBN 3-518-58090-6 .
  • The meaning of "meaning" (The Meaning of "Meaning") with an introduction by Wolfgang Spohn . 2nd Edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1990 ISBN 3-465-02224-6 (English as an article in: Mind, Language and Reality , 1975, 215-271)
  • For a renewal of philosophy ( Renewing Philosophy [1992]). Reclam, Stuttgart 1997 ISBN 3-15-009660-X ( review in Die Zeit of February 26, 1998)
  • From a realistic point of view. Writings on language and reality . Translated and introduced by Vincent C. Müller, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, ISBN 3-499-55539-5 (collection of articles with texts from 1973 to 1988)
  • Pragmatism - an open question ( Pragmatism: An Open Question [1995]). Campus, Frankfurt u. a. 1995 ISBN 3-593-35260-5 .


  • Maria Baghramian: Reading Putnam , Routledge Chapman & Hall, London 2013. ISBN 978-0-41553006-4 with comments on the individual contributions by Putnam
  • Yemima Ben-Menahem (Ed.): Hilary Putnam , Contemporary Philosophy in Focus, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005. ISBN 978-0521012546 .
  • Alex Burri : Hilary Putnam . Campus, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 1994, ISBN 3-593-35126-9 .
  • Peter Clark, Bob Hale (Eds.): Reading Putnam , Blackwell, Cambridge (Massachusetts) -Oxford 1995. ISBN 978-0631179078 with comments and replies by Putnam
  • James Conant and Urszula M. Zeglen (Eds.): Putnam. Pragmatism and Realism . Routledge, London 2002, ISBN 0-415-25605-4 (essays on Putnam's philosophy with comments by Putnam)
  • Maximilian de Gaynesford Hilary Putnam McGill-Queens University Press / Acumen, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84465040-8 .
  • Lance P. Hickey: Hilary Putnam (Continuum Contemporary American Thinkers), Continuum, New York 2009, ISBN 978-1-84706076-1 .
  • Maria Uxía Rivas Monroy, Celeste Cancela Silva, Concha Martínez Vidal (eds.): Following Putnam's Trail. On Realism and Other Issues . Rodopi. Amsterdam 2008, ISBN 978-90-420-2397-0 .
  • Axel Mueller: Reference and Fallibilism: On Hilary Putnam's pragmatic cognitivism . de Gruyter. Berlin / New York 2001, ISBN 978-3-11-0877243 .
  • Marie-Luise Raters, Markus Willaschek (ed.): Hilary Putnam and the tradition of pragmatism . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-518-29167-X .

Web links

Secondary literature



Individual evidence

  1. ^ King, PJ One Hundred Philosophers: The Life and Work of the World's Greatest Thinkers. Barron's 2004, 170
  2. Linda Wertheimer: Finding My Religion
  3. ^ A b Hickey, LP, "Hilary Putnam" To appear in the "American Philosophers" edition of Literary Biography, ed. Bruccoli, Layman and Clarke
  4. Foley, M. (1983). Confronting the War Machine. North Carolina: North Carolina Press
  5. Hilary Putnam: 12 Philosophers: And Their Influence on Me, in: Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, Vol. 82, No. 2 (Nov., 2008), pp. 101-115
  6. ^ Paul Ziff: "Semantic Analysis, Cornell University Press 1960"
  7. ^ Hilary Putnam: Psychological Concepts, Explication and Ordinary Language, Journal of Philosophy 54 (1957), 94–99, here 95
  8. ^ Hilary Putnam: Psychological Concepts, Explication and Ordinary Language, Journal of Philosophy 54 (1957), 94–99, here 98
  9. Alex Mueller: Reference and Fallibilism. On Hilary Putnam's pragmatic cognitivism, de Gruyter, Berlin 2001, 19
  10. Hilary Putnam: The Nature of Mental States [1967], Philosophical Papers II, 429-440, here 438
  11. ^ Hilary Putnam: Brains and Behavior [1963], Philosophical Papers III, 324–341, here 330
  12. Alex Mueller: Reference and Fallibilism. On Hilary Putnam's pragmatic cognitivism, de Gruyter, Berlin 2001, 25
  13. ^ Hilary Putnam: Psychological Concepts, Explication and Ordinary Language, Journal of Philosophy 54 (1957), 94–99, here 99
  14. a b Alex Mueller: Reference and Fallibilism. On Hilary Putnam's pragmatic cognitivism, de Gruyter, Berlin 2001, 48
  15. ^ Hilary Putnam: The Analytic and the Synthetic. Scientific Explanation, Space, and Time. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 3, ed. by Herbert Feigl and Grover Maxwell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962), 358-397. Contained in Philosophical Papers I. Mind, Language and Reality (1975), 33-69; later also: Two Dogmas' Revisited. In: Contemporary Aspects of Philosophy, ed. by Gilbert Ryle , Oriel Press, London 1976, 202-213. Reprinted in: Realism and Reason (1983), 87-97
  16. Hilary Putnam: Is Semantics Possible ?, Metaphilosophy 1 (July 1970), 187–201, reprint: Philosophical Papers II, 139–152, here 141
  17. ^ Rudolf Carnap: The Methodological character of theoretical Concepts, in: Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science I, ed. by Herbert Feigl, Michael Scriver, Minneapolis 1956, 38-76; ders .: Observational language and theoretical language, Logica. Studia Paul Bernays dedicata, Neuchatel 1959
  18. ^ Hilary Putnam: What Theories Are Not [1962], Philosophical Papers I, 215–227, here 215–216; see. also Willard Van Orman Quine: Two Dogmas of Empiricism , in ders: From a Logical Point of View, Harvard University Press, Cambridge / Mass. 1953, 20-37
  19. Hilary Putnam. A Philosopher Looks at Quantum Mechanics [1965], Philosophical Papers I, 130–158, here 131
  20. ^ Hilary Putnam: What Theories Are Not, 220
  21. Hilary Putnam: Craig's Theorem [1965], Philosophical Papers I, 228–236, here 235
  22. ^ Hilary Putnam: Explanation and Reference. In: Conceptual Change, ed. by Glenn Pearce and Patrick Maynard, D. Reidel, Dordrecht 1973, 199-221. in Philosophical Papers II. Mind, Language and Reality (1975), 196–214, German explanation and reference, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 27–51, here 41–44
  23. ^ Hilary Putnam: Explanation and Reference. In: Conceptual Change, ed. by Glenn Pearce and Patrick Maynard, D. Reidel, Dordrecht 1973, 199-221. in Philosophical Papers II. Mind, Language and Reality (1975), 196–214, German explanation and reference, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 27–51, here 44
  24. on the following: Hilary Putnam: Explanation and Reference. In: Conceptual Change, ed. by Glenn Pearce and Patrick Maynard, D. Reidel, Dordrecht 1973, 199-221. in Philosophical Papers II. Mind, Language and Reality (1975), 196–214, German explanation and reference, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 27–51, here 44–50
  25. Paul Feyerabend: Explanation, Reduction and Empiricism, in, Realism, Rationalism and Scientific Method, Philosophical Papers I, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1981, 44–96, here 68
  26. next to “Explanation and Reference” (p. 28) also in “Language and Reality”, in Philosophical Papers II, 272–290, here 283 German language and reality, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 52–100, here 56 and 65, as well as: Why is a Philosopher ?, in: Realism with a Human Face, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass 1990, 105–119, here 116, Ger. Wozu die Philosophen, in : Hilary Putnam: From a Realistic Point of View, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 203–220, here 216
  27. ^ Hilary Putnam: Explanation and Reference. In: Conceptual Change, ed. by Glenn Pearce and Patrick Maynard, D. Reidel, Dordrecht 1973, 199-221. Reprinted in Philosophical Papers II. Mind, Language and Reality (1975), 196-214, German explanation and reference, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, 27-51, here 50 with the reference to "The 'Corroboration' of Theories." In: The Philosophy of Karl Popper, ed. by Paul A. Schilpp Open Court, La Salle, Ill. 1974, vol. 1, 221-240. Reprinted in Philosophical Papers I. Mathematics, Matter and Method (1975), 250-269
  28. Hilary Putnam: What is Realism ?, in: Meaning and the Moral Sciences, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 18–38, here 18–19, German What is realism ?, in: Hilary Putnam: Von einer Realistische Standpunkt, Rowohlt , Reinbek 1993, 78-99, here 78-79
  29. ^ Hilary Putnam: The Threefold Cord Mind, Body and World. Columbia University Press, New York 1999, 94
  30. ^ Hilary Putnam: The Threefold Cord Mind, Body and World. Columbia University Press, New York 1999, 102
  31. ^ Hilary Putnam: The Threefold Cord Mind, Body and World. Columbia University Press, New York 1999, 37
  32. Jump up ↑ Putnam, The Meaning of Meaning, 39