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Putnam Paper Essay


 Putnam’s recent work has mainly focused on bringing philosophy out of its case and back to the world of ordinary people and ordinary social problems. Pragmatic provides us with some ideas for finding the claim that there is no difference between what is real and what we experience as real. A pragmatic realist philosophy of religion is not reductionism and therefore acceptable for religious as well as non-religious philosophers of religion.

  Majority of the pragmatists seek to find a middle way between metaphysical realism and relativism and between dogmatism and skepticism by using the pragmatic maxim, in order to establish the meaning of a conception we should consider what practical consequences might conceivably result from the truth of that conception. Belief in what is taken to be true is conceived as a guiding action, that is, it is a habit, a disposition to behave, and its opposite is disbelief and doubt.

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This doubt is normally caused by surprising phenomenon that is incompatible with one’s earlier accepted beliefs. We begin a process of inquiry whenever the doubt arises where we attempt to obtain a new equilibrium with our environment where our doubt is detached. This new equilibrium refers to new habits and revised beliefs. A glowing inquiry lead to stable view, that is only short-term, and will eventually be followed by new doubt.

 Most of the pragmatics conceived an inquiry method as the way we think and have to think in all aspect of life. Cognitive experience is the result of inquiry. An inquiry process begins in a sensible difficulty, going on through the stage of conceptual elaboration of probable resolutions, and results in a concluding reconstruction of the experience into a new cohesive whole. This cohesive whole is not, a closed system.

 With this view of a cohesive whole, pragmatists question knowledge as a sort of inactive recording of antecedent facts. They claim that, knowing is vied as a constructive conceptual action, anticipating, and guiding our alteration to future practical interactions with our environment.

With that regard, we cannot therefore assign a complete status to the traditional ontological distinction between mind and body, means and end, or between fact and value. However, these differences should functionally and contextually be understood. Moreover, most pragmatists refute truth as correspondence of consideration to things in themselves, but ague that, truth is a subject of successful change of our ideas to challenging circumstances, a view which was supported by William James.

 With regard to moral, aesthetic and the religious, there is a pragmatic interrelation between the truth and utility. These truth values are brought by their sensible function in our lives. The religious should have sensible penalty for their people who accept them. According to pragmatism, both religion and science have an explanation concerning who we are as human beings. Nonetheless, science deals with experimental and observational experience, while religion deals with the existential experience.

 Putnam ague that objects in the world is always objects conceptualized by people. These objects vary depending on the theory at hand. This implies that what is say concerning the objects as true, presupposes a theory. However, this does not implies that what is say to be true concerning the objects is caused by the theory. Yet, there is no any reason to claim that truth consists with unconseptualized objects, because what people say about objects is based on theory, and so, it is appropriate to see truth as some kind of rational acceptability, perfect consistency with one another and with our experience.

According to Putnam the truth can be defined in terms of evidence. This claim was severely question by Alvin Goldman by giving an example of a person who was falsely accused of a crime that was actually committed by somebody else who had already died. Several witnesses gave their evidence and eventually the person was accused without chance to defend his innocent. In such situation, if the definition of truth in terms of evidence is accepted, then automatically the accused person is saying to be guilty which in fact is converse to the truth that the person is not guilty. Goldman therefore, ague that truth can only be said to be exact if it can be defended.

 This view does not mean that the truth is a correspondence between judgments and words or that the fact is independent of conceptualized. Putnam’s internalism is supported by the Murat Bac who ague that there is indeed sensible distinction between members of the community who are convince that there is no sense of truth other than what is agreed by them and another community members who believe that suggested truth is what is independent of their best evidence.  According to this argument, the former would accuse Goldman’s innocent man of being guilty while the latter would be more cautious on it.

According to the internal realist, they is no description of the world, not even the most advanced scientific one, is the world’s or nature’s own. Ontology, truth and reference are internal to conceptual schemes serving different uses. The outcome of this conceptual view is that we live in a human world; and that there is no ready made world.  Putnam ague that , it is obstinately scientific and culturally dangerous to consider natural science as being more closely clued-up with the true structure of reality than other human language games.  Putnam often views truth as an epistemic concept contrasted to non-epistemic conception of truth proposed by associated theorists. He argued that we should, instead of succumbing to metaphysical or internal realism, accept a reasonable natural realism.

 We cannot negate unintelligible statement of the metaphysical realist because their negation is likewise unintelligible as the original statement. According to Putnam, the metaphysical realist does not get to something which is a significant target and that our inability to describe the world entirely is no failure by any means, but is due to collapsing of the description into unintelligible if construed as the negation of such an idea.

Truth cannot be just something language internal, but it is a representative relation between language users’ utterances and principally non-linguistic reality, although metaphysical effort to describe this relation as correspondence indeed lead to problem. Truth is the main element in a conceptual system that allows us to use terms such as statement, refers, belief, thought, etcetera. According to Putnam, world involving notions ensnare with our practical habit of act in the world where we live.

 Putnam ague that the metaphysical or scientific realist’s try to find a privileged scientific position for describing the world  the way it is, independently of practice laden human perspectives, is a complete failure. His attacks on a tough kind of realism have resulted into more broad attacks on the reductionist, scientific dream of representing eventual reality in terms of scientific theories.

Putnam has been interpreted as a relativist, but he has reminded his critics that he never consider the facts found in the world as dependent on how we use language in any common sense of the word dependent. Putnam view could be interpreted as an empirical realism in a Kantian sense, where the world would be constituted by our purpose oriented practices nearly in a way in which the empirical world is a human construction, but not being fictitious.

There is a sense that the world and the truths relating to it are human constructions; however it is ever from a human perspective that we say whatever we say concerning the world we take to be real. It is only in particular contexts of philosophy confusion that, we are expected to justify our beliefs about objectives world’s facts. Moreover, we should all the same take our words as corresponding to how things are. Putnam critically evaluates the likelihood of philosophy to make the human lives better, where he borrows from Jame’s and Dewey’s meliorism. He argued that there is no ethical dichotomy between the facts and values which can be drawn.

According to him all facts that can be found in our humanly structured world are value laden, and value are everywhere, they extend into each and every corner of our experience and thought. Here Putnam was very categorical in criticize skeptical and relativist theories of ethics, that see values as basically subjective and should be banished from the scientific world view. According to Putnam it is extremely wrong to believe that science as a privilege perception for describing the world that it may perhaps reduced values to something entirely factual.

 We have to develop moral images of the world where metaphysical and ethical elements are a deep entangle. Putnam has tried to bring religious issues, characteristically marginalized in scientific oriented analytical philosophy, back to the centre of philosophy. He noted that scientific attacks on theism are based on misunderstandings. Later, Putnam arrives relatively close to Wittgensteinian mysticism, where it is not possible to communicate religious perceptive in a meaningful language.

His religious idea is troubled by tensions; however this may be an indication of a profound religious thinker. Human being both are at the centre of theoretical and practical philosophy, this is not clearly separable. The metaphilosophical view as put by Putnam is very critical to make us understand our challenging existence in the world, and thus be able to make a difference on the way we live. Philosophy is a deeply human project which aim at a humanly world view rather than any impersonal unlimited conception. It gives us a clear look at our own situation.


 In this work , I have critically discussed the Putnam perspective view of the world, and have argue that human being can only adopt internal perspective which attempt to explain clearly about who we are. Reality is always reality conceptualized by us, building on the experiences and existential ones describing the fact that science and religion have different role in our lives.

This however, is not reductionism, but rather taking religious seriously as a human phenomenon. Our view on references, truth, the mind, values, religion, and other issues can be seen as fallible, self-critical attempts to discover what our best practice add to in these varied cases and what kind of philosophy pertinent commitments it makes.


Peter A. French et.al; (1997) ‘God and the Philosophers,’ in Religion, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 21, Minneapolis, pp. 175-187.

Boolos, et.al; (1990) Meaning and Method: Essay in Honor of Hillary Putnam, Cambridge.

Putnam, H., et.al; (1994) A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, Oxford, Cambridge, Mass, pp. 507-513.

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