Hilary putnam

Hilary Putnam

  • Birth

    Born July 31, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois as an only child to his father Samuel and mother Riva. Hilary's father was a writer, translator, and a columnist for the Daily Worker, a newspaper for the Communist Party of the US.
  • Lower Echelon of Higher Education

    Received his Bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Doctorates of Philosophy

    Doctorates of Philosophy
    Obtained a PhD from the University of California where he worked with Hans Reichenbach, a leading philosopher of science and founder of the "Berlin Circle" in 1928.
  • Period: to

    Years as an educator

    After teaching at Northwestern University (1951-52), Princeton University (1953-61), and MIT (1961-65), Putnam moved to Harvard where he spent the majority of his career as a Professor.
  • Anti-War efforts

    Anti-War efforts
    Putnam, an anti-war activist, organized one of the first faculty and student committees against the Vietnam War.
  • Epistemology "What Theories are not"

    Hilary Putnam published a book which went on to describe the “received view on the role of theories in empirical science. It discusses those theories that are to be thought of as partially interpreted calculi in which only the observation terms are directly interpreted”.
    title={What Theories are Not},
    author={Hilary Putnam},
    journal={Studies in logic and the foundations of mathematics},
  • Contribution to the Mathematical field

    Hilary Putnam put forth his Quine-Putnam indispensability argument which calls for the existence of abstract Mathematical objects such as numbers and sets.
  • "The Meaning of Meaning" (Twin Earth)

    "The Meaning of Meaning" (Twin Earth)
    Beginning his philosophical works, Putnam wrote "The Meaning of Meaning" as a response to then popular idea that when our beliefs change, so do the meanings and referents of our terms.
  • "Brain in a vat"

    "Brain in a vat"
    Hilary Putnam put forth an argument to refute the thesis put for by Rene Descartes' "Evil Genius" hypothesis which claims we are disembodied brains living in a vat of nutrients. Putnam stated that you don't know that you are not a brain in a vat because each outcome is the same. In other words, you have the same conscious experiences whether you are a normal human in a normal physical world or a brain in a vat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB1eqZyWYSk
  • Retirement

    Retired as Cogan University Professor Emeritus at Harvard.
  • The collapse of the Fact/Value dichotomy

    Putnam claimed that "every true judgment must be either analytic or synthetic; analytic judgments are logical tautologies, 'true by definition,' while synthetic judgments are substantive claims whose truth or falsity--according to the most popular version of the dichotomy--can only be determined by empirical test." Putnam, Hilary. The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Death

    Died in his home at the age of 89, the cause was metastasized mesothelioma.