Pierre-Yves Rochefort
Cégep De L'Outaouais
This paper aims to challenge the idea claimed by Putnam in his Dewey Lectures that internal realism presupposed sense data theory so that it would have been unable to account for the fundamental intuition of common sense realism that perception gives us cognitive access to reality. Rather, I argue that Putnam’s writings from the period of internal realism indicate that it (internal realism) already presupposed a form of direct realism of the kind he puts forth in the Dewey lectures. I support my thesis with a demonstration of the implication of direct realism in the refutation of the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis that occurs in the first chapter of Reason, Truth and History, as well as with various passages from the philosopher’s writings of the time when he defended internal realism. I also argue, contrary to what the philosopher seems to assert in his Dewey Lectures, that his model-theoretic argument against metaphysical realism does not involve sense data theory. After noting the very strong resemblance between the theses of his common sense realism of the 1990s and those of his internal realism of the 1980s, I hypothesize that Putnam pretended to renounce internal realism in order to allow himself to rephrase his original position so as to avoid being misinterpreted as a form of idealism or fact constructivism, as was the case with his initial statement.
Keywords Hilary Putnam  Perception  Realism  Sense data  Brain-in-a-vat hypothesis  Common sense realism  Dewey Lectures  Internal realism  Direct realism
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