Hilary Putnam (July 31,1926 - March 13, 2016)

  • Born in Chicago with a long career ahead

    Born in Chicago with a long career ahead
    Putnam was a only child no sibblings. His father was a writer and a translator, an active communist, a columnist for the Daily Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. (CPUSA). He made major contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, he is best known for his semantic externalism
  • Early Career

    Early Career
    After receiving his Ph.D. in 1951 he taught at Northwestern University, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard. Early in his career he was a defender of scientific realism.
  • Important Contributions to Philosophy

    Important Contributions to Philosophy
    Following the “linguistic turn” in Anglo-American (analytic) philosophy in the early 20th century, questions about the nature of truth and objectivity came to be inseparable from questions about linguistic meaning and representation. An account of the word-world relation (the relation between words and the things in the world they refer to or represent) is thus considered fundamental to contemporary philosophy.
  • Varieties of realism

    Varieties of realism
    Putnam sought to distinguish his understanding of realism from what he now called “metaphysical realism.” According to Putnam (“Why There Isn’t a Ready-Made World” [1983]) What the metaphysical realist holds is that we can think and talk about things as they are, independently of our minds, and that we can do this by virtue of a “correspondence” relation between the terms in our language and some sorts of mind-independent entities.
  • Philosophy of mind

    Philosophy of mind
    Putnam’s contributions have had enormous impact is the philosophy of mind, where he introduced the doctrine known as functionalism (machine functionalism), which attempts to define mental states in terms of their functional (or causal) roles relative to other mental states and behaviours. This doctrine takes the mind to be characterized not by the substance it is made of but by its functions and functional organization
  • Fact and value

    Fact and value
    Despite his early sympathy with Marxism, Putnam never committed himself to strict materialism. Over the years, however, he distanced himself noticeably from that position. A clear manifestation of this distance can be found in his critique of the traditional fact-value dichotomy—that is, the distinction between what is (facts) and what ought, or ought not, to be (norms and values).