Throughout his diverse and highly influential career, Hilary Putnam was famous for changing his mind. As a pragmatist he treated philosophical "positions" as experiments in deliberate living. His aim was not to fix on one position but to attempt to do justice to the depth and complexity of reality. In this new collection, he and Ruth Anna Putnam argue that key elements of the classical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey provide a framework for the most progressive and forward-looking (...) forms of philosophy in contemporary thought. The Putnams present a compelling defense of the radical originality of the philosophical ideas of James and Dewey and their usefulness in confronting the urgent social, political, and moral problems of the twenty-first century. This collection brings together almost all of the Putnams' pragmatist writings--essays they wrote as individuals and as coauthors. The pragmatism they endorse, though respectful of the sciences, is an open experience-based philosophy of our everyday lives that trenchantly criticizes the fact/value dualism running through contemporary culture. Hilary Putnam argues that all facts are dependent on cognitive values, while Ruth Anna Putnam turns the problem around, illuminating the factual basis of moral principles. Together, they offer a shared vision which, in Hilary's words, "could serve as a manifesto for what the two of us would like philosophy to look like in the twenty-first century and beyond. (shrink)
William James (1842-1910) was both a philosopher and a psychologist, nowadays most closely associated with the pragmatic theory of truth. The essays in this Companion deal with the full range of his thought as well as other issues, including technical philosophical issues, religious speculation, moral philosophy and political controversies of his time. The relationship between James and other philosophers of his time, as well as his brother Henry, are also examined. By placing James in his intellectual landscape the volume will (...) be particularly useful to teachers and students outside philosophy in such areas as religious studies, history of ideas, and American studies. New readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to James currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of James. (shrink)
Moral sceptics maintain that there are no objective moral values, or that there is no moral knowledge, or no moral facts, or that what looks like a statement which makes a moral judgment is not really a statement and does not have a truth-value. All of this is rather, unclear because all of it is negative. It will be necessary to remove some of this unclarity because my aim in this paper is to establish a proposition which may be summarized (...) by saying: even if there are no objective moral values in one sense, there are objective moralvalues in another sense, and the latter values are good enough to do some of the jobs that objective values in the first sense would have done. A useful analogy might be that of a person who has lost her hand and has been given a prosthesis. In one sense the prosthesis is not as real as the hand, in another sense it is just as real ; most importantly, the person can do with the prosthesis enough of what she could do with the hand to make do. (shrink)
In a memorable passage near the beginning of William James asks us to imagine a world in which all our dearest social utopias are realized, and then to imagine that this world is offered to us at the price of one lost soul at the farthest edge of the universe suffering eternal, intense, lonely pain. Then he asks.
On a hot sleepy summer day an old truck rattles along a dusty road. A turnip falls off the truck, the truck does not stop. Perhaps the old man who drives the truck does not know that the turnip fell off, or perhaps he does not care. He values his time or his ease more than he values the I turnip. We, who know not only that turnips are nourishing but that many people go hungry, may say that the man (...) ought to have stopped to pick up the turnip. (shrink)
This paper argues for the view that moral realism is irrelevant to ethics. It recalls Aristotle's claim that the Platonic Form of the Good is irrelevant because it is not the sort of thing we can desire or pursue. Moore's account of ethics in relation to conduct and of the Ideal is woefully inadequate as a morality to live by. Peter Railton's moral realism also involves a very weak first-order moral theory. These failures are due, I claim, to the fact (...) that Plato, Moore and Railton regard morality as a science; it is not a science, it is an art. (shrink)
L’idea che vi sia una netta dicotomia tra fatti e valori è uno dei dogmi dell’empirismo. Secondo questa concezione, i giudizi fattuali, in quanto verificabili o falsificabili empiricamente, riguardano le aree di razionalità «pura» e omogenea e sono ancorati naturalisticamente al mondo. Gli enunciati di valore, invece, sarebbero da relegare nella sfera di ciò che è semplicemente «soggettivo», emotivo, irrazionale. Questo assunto, che ha dominato per molto tempo le scienze e la filosofia, è stato messo in dubbio dai pragmatisti e (...) da alcuni dei più influenti pensatori contemporanei, che, intervenendo al dibattito sull’oggettività dell’etica, hanno mostrato come la presunta eterogeneità tra giudizi descrittivi e giudizi valutativi sia ormai insostenibile. Sulla scia della prospettiva inaugurata da questi pensatori, gli autori di questo libro mostrano come la dicotomia fatto/valore abbia corrotto il nostro pensiero, impedendoci di rivolgere l’attenzione alle intersezioni, le sinergie e le relazioni che esistono tra processi cognitivi e coefficienti valutativi, tra scienza e etica. Con saggi di S. Clough, D. Copp, D. Davidson, G. Marchetti, H. Putnam, R. A. Putnam B. Stroud, K. A. Taylor, V. Walsh. (shrink)
This is at once an ambitious and a modest book. The very idea of a philosophy of culture is an ambitious idea. Culture in White’s sense includes science, art, religion, history, law, ethics, and politics. The list is not meant to be exhaustive; these are simply the institutions White considers in this slim volume. But a philosophy of culture is not simply a collection consisting of a philosophy of science, a philosophy of art, a philosophy of religion, etc. It is (...) a philosophy of culture only if these various philosophies share a common philosophical approach or commitment. If I understand White correctly, his purpose is three-fold: he wants to urge his readers to do philosophy of culture, he wants them to do this in the spirit of what he calls holistic pragmatism, and he wants to provide in this little book an example of holistic pragmatist philosophy of culture. (shrink)