Thursday, March 14, 2013

A philosopher in the age of science

Hilary Putnam
An article about philosopher Hilary Putnam, who has just released a collection of essays, Philosophy in the Age of Science.
Like Russell, Putnam began his philosophical career working on topics concerning logic and mathematics. In the 1960s his work with three other mathematicians led to the solution of Hilbert’s Tenth Problem, and his work with Martin Davis led to the creation of an algorithm about satisfiability for first-order predicate logic. Like William James, Putnam has a keen eye for where lofty philosophical notions such as truth, knowledge, value, and justification can be related to pragmatic concerns about use and practicality. And like James and Russell, Putnam sees both science and philosophy as participating in a similar project of refining our conception of reality. Sadly Putnam has never enjoyed a similar level of fame or public influence, though his famous essay “Brain in a Vat” may have been one of the inspirations behind The Matrix, a film which introduced philosophical scepticism to a whole new audience.
... A Kant without hubris, a Wittgenstein without quietism, an unrelenting critic, gadfly and deeply original thinker, Putnam is one of the 20th century’s true philosophical giants."
A philosopher in the age of science

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