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Ideas of Hilary Putnam, by Text

[American, 1926 - 2016, Taught at Princeton, then MIT, then Professor at Harvard University.]

1963 Brains and Behaviour
p.35 Superactors and superspartans count against behaviourism [Searle]
1967 Mathematics without Foundations
p.295 I do not believe mathematics either has or needs 'foundations'
p.302 Science requires more than consistency of mathematics
p.305 You can't deny a hypothesis a truth-value simply because we may never know it!
p.303 p.303 Maybe mathematics is empirical in that we could try to change it
p.303 p.303 It is conceivable that the axioms of arithmetic or propositional logic might be changed
p.308 p.308 We understand some statements about all sets
1967 The Mental Life of Some Machines
p.6 Instances of pain are physical tokens, but the nature of pain is more abstract [Lycan]
1967 The Thesis that Mathematics is Logic
p.125 Putnam coined the term 'if-thenism' [Musgrave]
1968 The Nature of Mental States
p.24 Neuroscience does not support multiple realisability, and tends to support identity [Polger]
p.120 If humans and molluscs both feel pain, it can't be a single biological state [Kim]
p.52 p.52 Temperature is mean molecular kinetic energy, but they are two different concepts
p.54 p.54 Is pain a functional state of a complete organism?
p.55 p.55 Functionalism is compatible with dualism, as pure mind could perform the functions
p.57 p.57 Total paralysis would mean that there were mental states but no behaviour at all
p.57 p.57 Dispositions need mental terms to define them
p.58 p.58 Functional states correlate with AND explain pain behaviour
1971 The Philosophy of Logic
p.346 p.105 Indispensability strongly supports predicative sets, and somewhat supports impredicative sets
p.347 p.105 Very large sets should be studied in an 'if-then' spirit
p.57 p.197 We must quantify over numbers for science; but that commits us to their existence
1971 Philosophy of Logic
Ch.1 p.5 The universal syllogism is now expressed as the transitivity of subclasses
Ch.2 p.14 Physics is full of non-physical entities, such as space-vectors
Ch.2 p.21 For scientific purposes there is a precise concept of 'true-in-L', using set theory
Ch.3 p.26 '⊃' ('if...then') is used with the definition 'Px ⊃ Qx' is short for '¬(Px & ¬Qx)'
Ch.3 p.26 Modern notation frees us from Aristotle's restriction of only using two class-names in premises
Ch.3 p.27 Before the late 19th century logic was trivialised by not dealing with relations
Ch.3 p.28 Having a valid form doesn't ensure truth, as it may be meaningless
Ch.3 p.32 Asserting first-order validity implicitly involves second-order reference to classes
Ch.5 p.36 Nominalism only makes sense if it is materialist
Ch.6 p.48 In type theory, 'x ∈ y' is well defined only if x and y are of the appropriate type
Ch.7 p.56 Sets larger than the continuum should be studied in an 'if-then' spirit
Ch.8 p.72 Most predictions are uninteresting, and are only sought in order to confirm a theory
Ch.9 p.75 We can identify functions with certain sets - or identify sets with certain functions
Ch.9 p.76 Unfashionably, I think logic has an empirical foundation
1973 Explanation and Reference
p.169 Express natural kinds as a posteriori predicate connections, not as singular terms [Mackie,P]
p.180 Putnam bases essences on 'same kind', but same kinds may not share properties [Mackie,P]
II B p.204 Using proper names properly doesn't involve necessary and sufficient conditions
II C p.205 I now think reference by the tests of experts is a special case of being causally connected
II C p.205 Natural kind stereotypes are 'strong' (obvious, like tiger) or 'weak' (obscure, like molybdenum)
III B p.212 Science aims at truth, not at 'simplicity'
1973 Meaning and Reference
p.154 p.154 I can't distinguish elm trees, but I mean by 'elm' the same set of trees as everybody else
p.156 p.156 Language is more like a cooperative steamship than an individual hammer
p.159 p.159 If water is H2O in the actual world, there is no possible world where it isn't H2O
p.159 p.159 Conceivability is no proof of possibility
p.160 p.160 'Water' has an unnoticed indexical component, referring to stuff around here
p.160 p.160 A statement can be metaphysically necessary and epistemologically contingent
p.161 p.161 We need to recognise the contribution of society and of the world in determining reference
1975 The Meaning of 'Meaning'
p.16 If causes are the essence of diseases, then disease is an example of a relational essence [Williams,NE]
p.122 If Twins talking about 'water' and 'XYZ' have different thoughts but identical heads, then thoughts aren't in the head [Crane]
p.184 Putnam smuggles essentialism about liquids into his proof that water must be H2O [Salmon,N]
p.196 We say ice and steam are different forms of water, but not that they are different forms of H2O [Forbes,G]
p.242 Does 'water' mean a particular substance that was 'dubbed'? [Rey]
p.247 The Twin Earth theory suggests that intentionality is independent of qualia [Jacquette]
p.263 Often reference determines sense, and not (as Frege thought) vice versa [Scruton]
p.235 p.235 Archimedes meant by 'gold' the hidden structure or essence of the stuff
p.241 p.241 The hidden structure of a natural kind determines membership in all possible worlds
1975 What is Mathematical Truth?
p.70 p.241 Mathematics eliminates possibility, as being simultaneous actuality in sets
1977 Models and Reality
p.109 The Löwenheim-Skolem theorems show that whether all sets are constructible is indeterminate [Shapiro]
p.421 p.421 The Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem is close to an antinomy in philosophy of language
p.424 p.424 It is unfashionable, but most mathematical intuitions come from nature
p.425 p.425 V = L just says all sets are constructible
1978 Meaning and the Moral Sciences
Intro p.2 In Tarski's definition, you understand 'true' if you accept the notions of the object language
Intro p.4 Tarski has given a correct account of the formal logic of 'true', but there is more to the concept
Intro p.4 We need the correspondence theory of truth to understand language and science
Intro p.5 A culture needs to admit that knowledge is more extensive than just 'science'
Lec II.2 p.23 The claim that scientific terms are incommensurable can be blocked if scientific terms are not descriptions
Lec II.5 p.30 Only Tarski has found a way to define 'true'
Lec III p.41 The correct translation is the one that explains the speaker's behaviour
Lec V p.58 How reference is specified is not what reference is
Lec VI p.73 'True' and 'refers' cannot be made scientically precise, but are fundamental to science
Lec VI p.74 Knowledge depends on believing others, which must be innate, as inferences are not strong enough
Lec VI p.75 Empathy may not give knowledge, but it can give plausibility or right opinion
p. 41-2 p.21 You can't decide which explanations are good if you don't attend to the interest-relative aspects
Pt Four p.122 Realism is a theory, which explains the convergence of science and the success of language
Pt Four p.129 Theory of meaning presupposes theory of understanding and reference
Pt Four p.129 Truth conditions can't explain understanding a sentence, because that in turn needs explanation
Pt Four p.135 Language maps the world in many ways (because it maps onto other languages in many ways)
Pt Four p.137 If a tautology is immune from revision, why would that make it true?
Pt Three p.101 You can't say 'most speaker's beliefs are true'; in some areas this is not so, and you can't count beliefs
Pt Three p.108 'The rug is green' might be warrantedly assertible even though the rug is not green
Pt Three p.110 Correspondence between concepts and unconceptualised reality is impossible
Pt Three p.110 We should reject the view that truth is prior to meaning
Pt Three p.115 A private language could work with reference and beliefs, and wouldn't need meaning
1979 Phil of Mathematics: why nothing works
Modalism p.508 How can you contemplate Platonic entities without causal transactions with them?
1980 What is innate and why
p.407 p.407 If everything uses mentalese, ALL concepts must be innate!
p.408 p.408 No machine language can express generalisations
1980 works
p.59 Putnam says anti-realism is a bad explanation of accurate predictions [Okasha]
p.141 Realism is the only philosophy of science that doesn't make the success of science a miracle
1981 Why there isn't a ready-made world
'Causation' p.211 Metaphysical realism is committed to there being one ultimate true theory
'Causation' p.214 An alien might think oxygen was the main cause of a forest fire
'Failure' p.226 It is an illusion to think there could be one good scientific theory of reality
'Intro' p.205 The old view that sense data are independent of mind is quite dotty
'Intro' p.206 Shape is essential relative to 'statue', but not essential relative to 'clay'
1981 Reason, Truth and History
p.73 If we try to cure the abundance of theories with causal links, this is 'just more theory' [Lewis]
p.73 Putnam's epistemic notion of truth replaces the realism of correspondence with ontological relativism [O'Grady]
p.75 The correspondence theory is wrong, because there is no one correspondence between reality and fact [O'Grady]
p.83 If necessity is always relative to a description in a language, then there is only 'de dicto' necessity [O'Grady]
p.139 The word 'inconsiderate' nicely shows the blurring of facts and values
Pref p.-3 A fact is simply what it is rational to accept
Pref p.-2 Rationality is one part of our conception of human flourishing
Ch.1 p.18 Reference is social not individual, because we defer to experts when referring to elm trees
Ch.1 p.21 Concepts are (at least in part) abilities and not occurrences
Ch.2 p.23 'Water' on Twin Earth doesn't refer to water, but no mental difference can account for this
Ch.2 p.24 Maybe the total mental state of a language community fixes the reference of a term
Ch.2 p.25 Neither individual nor community mental states fix reference
Ch.2 p.27 Intension is not meaning, as 'cube' and 'square-faced polyhedron' are intensionally the same
Ch.2 p.29 Naïve operationalism would have meanings change every time the tests change
Ch.2 p.33 The sentence 'A cat is on a mat' remains always true when 'cat' means cherry and 'mat' means tree
Ch.2 p.35 There are infinitely many interpretations of a sentence which can all seem to be 'correct'
Ch.2 p.44 If cats equal cherries, model theory allows reinterpretation of the whole language preserving truth
Ch.3 p.55 Truth is an idealisation of rational acceptability
Ch.3 p.56 Before Kant, all philosophers had a correspondence theory of truth
Ch.3 p.69 Very nominalistic philosophers deny properties, though scientists accept them
Ch.5 p.124 Some kind of objective 'rightness' is a presupposition of thought itself
Ch.6 p.132 For ancient Greeks being wise was an ethical value
1981 Why Reason Can't be Naturalized
p.315 Truth is rational acceptability
1988 Representation and Reality
§1 p.08 p.8 Meaning holism tried to show that you can't get fixed meanings built out of observation terms
§1 p.09 p.9 Understanding a sentence involves background knowledge and can't be done in isolation
§1 p.09 p.9 Holism seems to make fixed definition more or less impossible
§2 p.22 p.22 Reference (say to 'elms') is a social phenomenon which we can leave to experts
§2 p.25 p.25 Aristotle implies that we have the complete concepts of a language in our heads, but we don't
§2 p.32 p.32 Reference may be different while mental representation is the same
§2 p.38 p.38 We should separate how the reference of 'gold' is fixed from its conceptual content
§3 p.49 p.49 Like names, natural kind terms have their meaning fixed by extension and reference
§3 p.50 p.50 "Water" is a natural kind term, but "H2O" is a description
§4 p.60 p.60 If we are going to eliminate folk psychology, we must also eliminate folk logic
§4 p.66 p.66 Semantic notions do not occur in Tarski's definitions, but assessing their correctness involves translation
§4 p.67 p.67 Meaning and translation (which are needed to define truth) both presuppose the notion of reference
§4 p.68 p.68 Asserting the truth of an indexical statement is not the same as uttering the statement
§5 p.84 p.84 Is there just one computational state for each specific belief?
§7 p.107 p.107 Realists believe truth is correspondence, independent of humans, is bivalent, and is unique
§7 p.110 p.110 Aristotle says an object (e.g. a lamp) has identity if its parts stay together when it is moved
§7 p.112 p.112 The job of the philosopher is to distinguish facts about the world from conventions
§7 p.119 p.119 "Meaning is use" is not a definition of meaning
Int p.xii p.-7 Functionalism says robots and people are the same at one level of abstraction
Int p.xiv p.-5 Functionalism can't explain reference and truth, which are needed for logic
p.7 p.7 Can we give a scientific, computational account of folk psychology?
p.73 p.73 If concepts have external meaning, computational states won't explain psychology