Talk:Hilary Putnam

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Twin Earth[edit]

I think the twin earth paragraph is a bit confusing right now. It's also wrong since it is irelevant to Putnam's argument what particular liquid anyone happens to be looking at right now (as the example has it), what is key is the historical environmental factors that determine the referent of natural kind terms such as "water". I don't think the error in the article comes from any misunderstanding about Putnam, rather I think it is just the way the pargraph is currently written. How about the following:

One of Putnam's contributions to philosophy of language is the claim that "meaning is not in the head". Putnam illustrated this using his Twin Earth thought experiment to argue that environmental factors, even prior to anyone being aware of them, played a role in determining meaning. Twin Earth shows this, according to Putnam, since on Twin Earth everything is identical to Earth except they have XYZ where we have H2O. Because of this difference, when I say the word "water" in Earth-English it means something different from when my physically identical "twin" says the word "water" in Twin Earth-English. And since my "twin" and I are physically indistinguishable when we utter our respective words, and our words mean different things, meaning cannot be determined solely by what is in our heads. This led Putnam to adopt a version of semantic externalism with regard to meaning and mental content. Davkal 11:16, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Davkal, the problem with this is that you are not allowed to make up your own quotes. Unless you show that your quote ("meaning is not in the head") is correct and the one in the article ("meaning just ain't in the head") is wrong, you may rewrite the quote. Second, making the article more verbose by replacing phrases with longer ones that add nothing to the article (such as "in which he argued" instead of "to argue") is not the way to go.
This section clearly needs to be rewritten. The text speaks of "I," "my" and "our" without any indication of who is speaking these words. If it's a quote from Putnam, then it needs to be so marked. And if it is a quote, then again, you are not allowed to reword it. A quote has to be the exact words a person used, no more, no less, and no rewriting. If one wants to make someone's statement clearer, then paraphrase, do not rewrite his quote.
I think this example illustrates the problem of editors trying to rewrite material that they don't adquately understand. It is clear that the words Davkal rewrote here are in a quote from Putnam. Unless it's a misquote, the wording must not be altered. The only acceptable change would be a paraphrase. And obviously, no peremissable paraphrase would say "I," "my," or "our." Askolnick 15:42, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Askolnick: your attempts to bring our disagreement from the CSICOP talk page here are contemptible. Your points are ludicrous and show a total lack of understanding of Putnam, his arguments, and the style of philosophical writing. The "I" is not really me, it is a philosophical device commonly used for clarity and brevity. I'll let you into another secret - I don't have a twin on Twin Earth or otherwise - Twin Earth doesn't really exist. Davkal 16:04, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

People who don't understand why encyclopedia editors never write articles in the first person should not be editing an encyclopedia. Askolnick 16:58, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
That is simple false. Here is a link to the Stanford Encyloèedia of Philosophy. Click on just about any link at all and you will find that the first-perosn is contantly used. Period. But this argument does not belong here. Please take such discussions to the manual pages or to your respective user pages. "Meaning just ain't in the head" is correct, however. It will be changed back. Now please take your quarrel elsehwere, though.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:12, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
But this is general encyclopedia, not an encyclopedia of philosophy. Articles are supposed to be written in language people unfamiliar with the subject can easily understand. Writers of good English do not write in the first person unless they are writing from their own point of view. Wikipedia does NOT allow ANY article to be written from a first person point of view. The current language of this article is confusing to readers of normal English. It can appear as if someone has left out some quotation marks. And please, arguments about how to write Wiki articles more clearly and in better English not only belong here, they belong on the talk pages of every article! Askolnick 17:33, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Fair point. If it's Wikipedia, it not SEP. I have no time right now to get bogged down in debates about such things anyway. that section does seem to clash with the rest of the article now. It's easily adjusted. If you see other examples though, please fix them yourself. I did not add any except in that section and I don't have time to redo a thorough copyedit. The one other thing, though:t you two seem to have a loooooooongf history of conflict over other matters which should NOT be brought to every talk page. If you want to continue arguing, even after I make these changes, please take it elsewhere. This realtively calm talk page could become another gigantic forum for matters irrelevant to Hilary Putnam. That's clearly not appropriate. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 18:13, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I do not know enough about Hiliary Putnam to edit this article. But I do know enough about writing to point out where some writing needs improvement. I didn't asked you or anyone in particular to fix the problems I described. I pointed them out so that editors, who are able to, will fix them.
The fact that my constructive editorial suggestions may sometimes be met with a personal attack is no reason for me not to make them. The goal of Wiki editors should be to improve Wiki articles. Unfortunately, some editors, who lose sight of that, often respond to criticsm of their edits with name calling and other personal attacks. I can't help that. Askolnick 19:06, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Francesco, I see you've now discovered this for yourself.[1] At least you'll have a week of peace. Askolnick 04:53, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

It was never actually changed from "meaning just ain't in the head" so all is well. Davkal 17:17, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I will look at it when all the nonsense calms down.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:47, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Ok, thanks.Davkal 12:49, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

You're right. The actual problem was that the example, while pointing out that the twins are physically indistinguishable, left out the important fact that Earth and twin earth are also indistinguishable, except in the one respect.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:17, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

It might also be worth noting that Putnam traced the view that meaning IS in the head, prominenent in modern congnitive science/philosophy of mind, back to the Aristotelian "cryptographer" view of meaning. By doing this we might provide a context for Putnam's claim that gives it some importance since as things stand a reaction to the point about Putnam in the article might be "so what?". Davkal 15:27, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Actually I planned to deal with the questin of importance of extrenalism by writing up a short para about how this idea influenced Donald Davidson, among others, with appropriate cites. There are many other things I wished to, and can, add. But after the experience with FAC, I didn't want to get near this article again for the nexy fify years!! --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 15:40, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I can write up a little bit for the intro to the Twin earth stuff if you'd like (and if Askolnick takes his petty arguments elsewhere).Davkal 16:04, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I've aleardy added a para on Davidson's discussion of this in "Subjective, Intersubjetibve, etc.." we don't want to fill it up. Also, I now feel a responsbility to expand the critisims section in order to balance it. Enoguh for this day!!. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:07, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough. Good work on this though - one of the best I have seen.Davkal 16:14, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Thank you Mister Davkal.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 16:17, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

The Twin Earth para is wrong again - the central point Putnam make is that the word "water" on Earth and the word "water" on Twin Earth have different meanings therefore to say that my twin uses "the same word" is to miss the whole point. The words "water" on Earth and "water" on Twin Earth merely look and sound and appear the same to those saying them but they are in fact different words. Davkal 01:29, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

No, no,no!! A lexical word is a syntactic unit. "Water" is the same word as "water". They have different referents in the the two different context, hence different meanings. This is basic philosophy of langauge as well as common sense.

--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:05, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

BTW, I hope you don't start a revert war over this. I see that you have an incredibly horrid history when it comes to such things. You seem to be seeking to be banned from Wikipedia. Take the nonsense somwhere else please.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:20, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't understand your last edit comment where you said I reintroduced first-person terms - I didn't. Whether "water" counts as the same word or not is an open question - if one individuated words according to their meaning or their referent (a perfectly plausible way to do it) then it would seem not, if words were individuated some other way then possibly. In any event I note the current version does not say they are the same word so it matters not. The only difference then, in your version, is the introduction of the names Frederick and Froderick and I am not going to revert over something like that. When you ask me to take the nonsense somewhere else I should remind you that the Twin earth section was wrong yesterday and correct today precisely on account of my involvement. I would have thought that some thanks were due rather than an unpleasant request such as this. In any event I did take the nonsense somewhere else - I took it out the section on Twin Earth and threw it away. That is why my correct version is what currently appears in the article. Davkal 15:04, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Also, there should not be quotation marks around "XYZ" and "H2O" since these are simply chemical compounds and not in any way dubious.Davkal 15:10, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Also, also, your version is now ambiguous (probabbly wrong) since it is not clear whether Froderick is speaking Twin Earth-English or English. If he is speaking English and just happens to be on Twin Earth (ie. if he is Frederick's identical Earth twin and has been transported there unbeknown to him) then the context is not enough (not according to Putnam) to change the meaning of his words and so his words would mean the same as Frederick's. This is why Putnam says an Earthling would be wrong if, after being transported to Twin Earth, said the words "there is some water" - the context not being enough to transform his Earth-English into Twin Earth-English otherwise he would have been correct to say what he did. And that is why the point was made explicitly in my last version - now removed. Davkal 15:25, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I have corrected the section on Twin earth for the last time. If you think yourself bigger than the article please please feel free to revert to an incorrect version. Either way I win - Wiki is a community of reasonable people who are willing to accept corrections; or Wiki is a bunch of pricks who wants their writing to be seen.Davkal 00:37, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Sorry for accusing people[edit]

I apologize for suggesting that people had not noicted the page-move vandalism. I looked in the history and tried to revert, but it seemed to have been there for hours. Then I realized you have to actually move the page back and that it had only been there for about 7 minutes. Good job.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 07:22, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Brain in a vat[edit]

"In the field of epistemology, he is known for the "brain in a vat" thought experiment" er... didn't that obscure continental philosopher René Descartes come up with that idea, in the seventeenth century? ElectricRay 07:39, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

No, that was the evil demon experiment. Rememeber from Philsophy 101?? Or did you even get that far?--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:02, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
No - I couldn't stand all the smug know-it-all dickweeds in class so I went off and did Law instead. Boy was that the right career choice. ElectricRay 17:04, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

It is probably confusing to attribute the brain-in-a-vat thought eperiment to Putnam, and certainly under the rubric of 'epistemology'. His discussion appears as ch.1 of 'reason, truth and history', and nowhere there is the problem of scepticism really relevant; his proposed solution to the (restricted) sceptical problem has very little to do with scepticism and a lot to do with reference and the attack on metaphysical realism. (it is restricted because the sceptical scenario that the argumnet considers is in an important way different from most sceptical scenarios, in that the hypothesis posits other thinking and communicating beings, albeit other vatted-brains). And insofar as the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment is a sceptical argument, it is of only insignificant difference to Descartes demon argument. ____

The introductory section implies that Putnam invented the Brain in a Vat thought experiment, which he certainly did not. He criticized this well known argument for skepticism. Treharne (talk) 10:31, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Is the terrible image in this section really necessary? It adds nothing, and looks *awful* Behemoth01 (talk) 12:00, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

The brain-in-a-vat skeptical argument (and its terrible image(!?) really is needed in making clear what Putnam is known for in epistemology. I am a professional epistemologist and when Putnam comes to mind, we first think of his externalism-about-reference argument against the brain-in-the-vat skeptical argument. The reason BIVs must be explicitly referred to here is that the BIV argument for skepticism is actually supposed to take on, in its structure, the kind of argument Descartes had in mind in books 1 and 2 of the Meditations. however, Putnam's external reference strategy exploits features of the BIV scenario--a scenario that could come about even if one rejects (a priori) supernaturalism of the sort Descartes envisions in his evil demon argument. Put another way, Putnam's external reference argument not only tries to challenge a skeptical argument with the power of Descartes' evil demon argument, but moreover, one for which the relevant thought experiment is consistent with philosophical naturalism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:31, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Hilbert's Tenth[edit]

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that Putnam was involved in proving that Hilbert's Tenth Theorem is unsolvable, rather than saying he solved it? The introduction makes it sound as if he found a solution, whereas the article states that he helped demonstrate there was no solution. The Dark 12:31, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes. I'll take a look at it and see if I can fix it. Th problem has been fightint the vandals all day. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:43, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

a suggestion for featured articles[edit]

perhaps featured articles should be protected for a short time period during/after their featured status. If there are any glaring errors then that could be addressed by a duty-administrator who can unlock and edit. Anyone else interested enough to contribute can put something on the talk page and wait a day or so for the discussion to come up and the changes to be made. Davkal 12:53, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

There are other pages for these comments (which i agree with). Try Wikipedia Talk:Featured Article Candidates or something like that.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 12:56, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
No. See user:Raul654/protection Raul654 17:53, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

All fair points - I withdraw my suggestion.Davkal 17:55, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Important comment pulled from archive[edit]

There really ought to be a section on his Philosophy of Science. Specifically, his work on Quantum Mechanics, alternative Logics, etc. 07:14, 7 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth

Reply: I absolutely agree. Do you want to write it? What can you tell me about?? We need (I need!!) people who know this material and are willing to actually step up to the plate. Write it up, Man!! Can't do everything myself.--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 14:52, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps I will be bold and write a brief stub-like paragraph, which others can then expand. 05:30, 13 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth

Let's not forget about Putnam's model-theoretic argument against metaphysical realism...the very argument which provided the impetus for his internal realism and his abandonment of semantic externalism.

I agree! I might be able to have a go at a paragraph on the MT argument... will register first and have a go

Article Problem[edit]

Wanted to read this page, all it said was something about bob and a bitch, wheres the real page gone?

Putnam's Political Activism[edit]

Hey, what happened to the great section on Hilary Putnam's political activism which used to exist in this entry? It should be noted that Putnam was involved in the anti-war movement as early as 1963 -way before it was 'popular' to protest vietnam. Also, might be cool to mention Putnam's recent appraisal of wikipedia in the New Yorker article on this subject. Teetotaler

In order to be popular with their customers, many professors oppose the military. This endears them to the youthful students whose tuition pays their salaries. Students are averse to dying in battle and will go to any extreme to stay alive. Professors know this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:52, 4 January 2007 (UTC).
That sounds ridiculous. You are suggesting that the only reason that Hilary Putman opposed the Vietnam War was to appear as cool to his students? Putnam started one of the first MIT anti-war movements while a professor there, at Harvard he was censored for his views and he continued to teach classes on Marxism for free anyway. He handed out Maoist pamphlets in Harvard Square, he was part of the Progressive Labor Party. Not every professor was opposed to Vietnam. The wikipedia link on Richard Holfstadter says he was upset by students protesting. What is more, many professors today are not protesting the Iraq war to the extent that Putnam protested the Vietnam War. Also, Putnam taught a course at Harvard for years with Cornel West on Marxism. I will write up a section for this when I get a chance, all emotivists and non-cogntivists to the contrary. Teetotaler
So he's yet another postmodern deconstructionist who is also a left-wing nutjob? This is hardly surprising. I say go ahead, put all that stuff in, it only serves to further illuminate the true psycholofical motivations behind the advocacy of anti-realism. But if you're actually interested in having this be a good article, I'd say that his viewpoints about economics, in which he clearly isn't qualified to say much of any worth, are pretty insignificant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:19, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Putnam a 20th Century Philosopher?[edit]

The article on Hilary Putnam has him listed as a "20th century philosopher". While it is true that Putnam was born in 1926 and most of his work was published last century, his best books are coming out now. Putnam's 2002 book, "The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy" is an amazing book which relates ethics to economics, a la Amaryta Sen. Putnam's 2004 book, "Ethics without Ontology" is an equally amazing book on ethics, mathematics and stands in the traditions of pragmatists like John Dewey and Continental philosophers such as Emmanuel Levinas. In fact, Putnam wrote the opening essays in the 2002 "Cambridge Companion to Levinas", and the 2001, "Cornel West: A Critical Reader". Remember, Moses died when he was 120. If Moses wrote the Torah, he wrote it late in life. Putnam's best work is coming out now -stuff on ethics, welfare economics, Marxism, race relations, etc... Teetotaler

I thint that is not problem to put one philosophers in two chronological categories. -- (talk) 11:17, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Historical Error[edit]

"In the late 1980s and the 1990s, stimulated by results from mathematical logic and by some ideas of Quine, Putnam abandoned his long-standing defence of metaphysical realism—the view that the categories and structures of the external world are both causally and ontologically independent of the conceptualizations of the human mind. He adopted a rather different view, which he called "internal realism".[36][9]"

Are the dates in this paragraph correct? I had a look at some other resources and it looks like 'late 1970s and the 1980s' is more accurate.

Hmmm.. you may be right. I'll check into it further when I get the chance. Unless you can find the sources yourself and just fix it. Thanks. --Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 17:42, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

You are correct. My bad, as they say in the States these day (though I have no idea what the F it is supposed to mean).--Francesco Franco aka Lacatosias 08:49, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
"Cut the pie anyway you like, meaning just ain't in the head." (Putnam, 'The Meaning of Meaning') Teetotaler

The first anti-realist publication was, i think, 'realism and reason', c.1977. The first, or at least the first clear exposition of 'internal-realism' was in 'reason truth and history', (1981). I think also that Dummett deserves a mention too in influencing putnam. Also, it maybe ought to be mentioned that Putnam has significantly altered his position in his latest writings, and abandoned the 'anti-realist' aspects, and (albeit slightly inconsistently perhaps) the name, of his position (see e.g. 'the threefold cord' (1997). This whole section could do with some working on: i will see what i can come up with... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:43, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

Portal link[edit]

I am in the process of switching the bulky Template:Logic nav bars to the tiny Portal:Logic links instead. I'm pretty sure wikipedia users interested in this page will find it convenient.Gregbard 08:54, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Skepticism, Realism, and Anti-realism[edit]

I must say I'm somewhat "skeptical" of the bit, cited to some other author's work, which claims that Putnam's target in the "Brains in a Vat" (and btw, it should be brains - plural - whenever referenced, since that is critical to understanding it) was actually to undermine metaphysical realism. Historically, antirealism in all its forms is a response to skepticism. It supposedly makes the perceived identical to the real, by claiming that perceptions create reality, thereby removing the supposed gap. This is discussed by Searle in Mind, Language and Society. I fail to see how the argument would be effective against anti-realism, the explanation in the article is inadequate, and I think that given the long historical background of this debate there ought to be some elaboration or clarification of this point.

Birthplace of Hilary Putnam's wife Ruth Anna[edit]

Several publications incorrectly state that Ruth Anna was born in Munich. However, she was born on the 20th of Sep 1927 at her grandparents home in Berlin. She personally confirmed this to me. Her grandfather was Prof. Dr. Hans Kohn, after whom the "alveolar pores of Kohn" are named. (talk) 18:03, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Jewish Religion[edit]

H. Putnam seems to have always been interested in religion (he re-joined the faith and also wrote an essay on Wittgenstein's Lectures on Religion in the mid 1970s (?), and this has itensified. There seems to be a lot of stuff from him on jewishness and jewish religion. I am a boring atheist, I think, so do not know anything about the topic, but it must be interesting, if Putnam cares about it? --Radh (talk) 19:17, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

I would agree that it's interesting. I understand that your last sentence means that Putnam's interest in it has drawn your interest in it, but may I suggest that it is intrinsically interesting in and of itself? I also find Christianity, which followed from it, intrinsically interesting. Jsdy (talk) 13:32, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Pragmatic Realism?[edit]

I propose that the article, which mentions both 'direct realism' and 'internal realism' should certainly include the term 'pragmatic realism'. He says, in "Is There Anything To Say About Reality And Truth? "I should have called it pragmatic realism". The article merely talks of a 'pragmatic-inspired direct realism', which I think underplays the pragmatism behind his 'conceptual relativism'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by CharlieBBoy12345 (talkcontribs) 22:19, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

I think you are right -he is even listed as an analytic philosopher in the side bar when he is in fact a pragmatist. However, he is not a conceptual relativist any longer, having broken away with it in "Ethics Without Ontology", embracing instead 'conceptual pluralism'. There is an important difference there. I'm guessing one of us should "be bold" as they say in wiki-speak and go ahead and change the article. Teetotaler 21 March, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:22, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Agree on realism. Disagree on the analytic label. Putnam is indeed a pragmatist but only within the context of the analytic tradition -- see for example his theory of truth. His methodology and positions are pretty cleanly analytic. Pragmatism should get a mention in the lede though. Grunge6910 (talk) 19:41, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

School (of philosophy)[edit]

At the risk of starting a turf war, I suggest adding under "School" the link to "Pragmatism" in addition to the existing "Analytic." Putnam, was an analytical philosopher through much of his career, but he also is widely known as a pragmatist. His pragmatism is mentioned in this article multiple times and he is mentioned several times in the pragmatism article. ProfGiles (talk) 02:27, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

I'll sign off on that. The work he's done for the past 20-odd years can't be characterized as just "analytic." It's much more complex than that, as I know now after having just read Ethics without Ontology and The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy. Grunge6910 (talk) 16:27, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for that. I should also mention Hilary Putnam: Pragmatism and Realism as an excellent source for discussion of Putnam's pragmatism. ProfGiles (talk) 20:46, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Of course, Putnam is not just an analytic philosopher and I added "Pragmatism." However, I also think that the whole "school" section in the infobox is dispensable. Why should every philosopher belong to a school? Quite often, the "school" section is a strange oversimplinfication and not really useful. --David Ludwig (talk) 17:06, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Turing Machine description / implementation[edit]

The description (specification) of the Turing machine does not match the implementation. The description states that it "writes out the sequence '111' after scanning three blank squares and then stopping". The actual machine as written scans three squares in sequence, writing a '1' in any blank square - to ensure the sequence '111' - and then stops.

Trivially, the description as cited can be re-written as: it scans three blank squares, it stops, then it writes out the sequence '111'. This, of course, is ridiculous - it does nothing after it stops. Equally trivially, this flaw can be fixed by putting a comma after the word "squares" and changing "stopping" to "stops".

A Turing machine to perform the corrected specification would be:

State Input B Input 1
1 move right; go to state 2 move right
2 move right; go to state 3 move right; go to state 1
3 move right; go to state 4 move right; go to state 1
4 write 1; move right; go to state 5 write 1; move right; go to state 5
5 write 1; move right; go to state 6 write 1; move right; go to state 6
6 write 1; halt write 1; halt

If you see "write" and "move" as separate actions [which is not the way I've done it all these years, but is certainly one way of doing it] then states 4 and 5 both need to be split into two states.

Also trivially, this is "one way" a Turing machine can be visualized.

Why don't I "be bold" and make the suggested changes? First off, I don't know whether the original author intended to have a correct specification for the given machine or a correct machine for the given specification. Second off, it seems that this article generates strong feelings for some, so I thought I'd socialize this change first. -- Jsdy (talk) 14:00, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Maybe I was wrong about the strong feelings. -- Jsdy (talk) 01:02, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

85th birthday conference[edit]

I think mentioning the conference was an ok addition on informational grounds. I won't unrevert but maybe someone else can put it back if they think it's appropriate. (talk) 12:57, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Algorithms are not computed[edit]

The current passage reads:

The first formulation of such a functionalist theory was put forth by Putnam himself. This formulation, which is now called "machine-state functionalism", was inspired by analogies noted by Putnam and others between the mind and theoretical "Turing machines" capable of computing any given algorithm.

But algorithms can't be computed. In simple language, algorithms are recipes, lists of action to take. They don't have to compute anything (although digital or analogue algorithms, and especially those used in digital computers often compute computable functions). One common counter-example of non-computing algorithm is a "bucket of rain water" algorithm. It's a recipe which says that you have to put out bucket every day and collect it in the evening, then measure the rain water in the bucket. It's perfectly fine, as an algorithm, but it doesn't compute anything. If this example is not enough, consider an algorithm of an infinite loop - what does it compute?

However it is true that Turing machines are computing machines, they don't compute algorithms, they execute algorithms. Thus I'd suggest that the sentence be changed to say that the Turing machine computes a computable function (or simply function, if that's too technical), or that it executes an (digital) algorithm (again, digital classification may be too technical). Also, there's no reason for Turing machine to be quoted, it's a mathematical object just like sine curve or equilateral triangle. :) (talk) 19:40, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

Putnam's pragmatic turn?[edit]

I have read this article several times and it contain great material, but I believe that two little text is about Putnam's pragmatic turn from early 80s to present day. Most of the article is dedicated to his early writings.--Vojvodae please be free to write :) 09:33, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Incorrect link in Note 9 for Putnam's 'Brain in a Vat'[edit]

I found that Note 9 did not provide the article. Searching for the material I found both a pdf for it at

as well as a working link in the connected Wikipedia page 'Brain in a Vat'

Being a newbie, I did not feel confident to make this change myself. Codon3 (talk) 14:46, 16 April 2015 (UTC)Codon3

Multiple Realizability[edit]

This section is clear, but it does not explain to the layperson why Putnam's argument is novel or important when applied to the Mind/Body problem, whereas it is obviously not when applied to pure physics problems, for example phase transitions. For example any physical system which behaves identically to the 3D Ising problem will show the same qualitatative behavior (and universality in general). obviously a person's brain, and their "mind" and general identity remain essentially the same despite the fact that all the molecules in their body are continuously replaced, so their physical Identity is never the same. Even if one were to take the view that one molecule is literally identical to another, so in a sense the molecularly renewed person remains physically the same, this would not imply that 1 extra molecule made the person mentally as well as physically different. For all practical purposes one block of ice is the same as another of similar size. , and qualitatively quite different from the same molecules as liquid water. I don't see the difference from me today and me yesterday, or why Putnam's argument is important or substantially different.Paulhummerman (talk) 10:34, 25 October 2015 (UTC)