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Frege and his Rivals

Adam Morton, 19 August 1982

Frege: Philosophy of Language 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 708 pp., £28, May 1981, 0 7156 1568 8
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The Interpretation of Frege’s Philosophy 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 621 pp., £35, September 1981, 0 7156 1540 8
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Frege: An Introduction to his Philosophy 
by Gregory Currie.
Harvester, 212 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 85527 826 9
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... text is dotted here with ‘Quine is guilty of confusing ...’, ‘Quine’s sloppy use’, ‘Putnam makes some attempt to pretend ...’, and so on. These sections are unusually irritating in their condescension to the dominant writers in the field, and whole chapters are made difficult to read by the annoyance that this tone produces. Quine’s views ...

Blunder around for a while

Richard Rorty, 21 November 1991

Consciousness Explained 
by Daniel Dennett.
Little, Brown, 514 pp., $27.95, October 1991, 0 316 18065 3
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... anti-Cartesians in chronological order – Wilfrid Sellars, J.J.C. Smart, David Armstrong, Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, Donald Davidson, Ruth Millikan, Patricia and Paul Churchland – one gets a clear sense of a developing consensus. There is increasing agreement about which moves will and won’t work, which strategies are dead and which still ...
The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. Vol. VII: Theory of Knowledge: The 1913 Manuscript 
edited by Elizabeth Ramsden Eames and Kenneth Blackwell.
Allen and Unwin, 258 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 04 920073 9
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Freedom and Morality, and Other Essays 
by A.J. Ayer.
Oxford, 182 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 19 824731 1
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More of My Life 
by A.J. Ayer.
Collins, 224 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 217003 5
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... the scope of the theory by treating the attachment of words to things as a part of human life. Hilary Putnam has reviewed Ayer’s Philosophy in the 20th Century against this background in a recent issue of Partisan Review. The pattern is complex but the main lines are easily discernible. Russell is one point of origin for contemporary analytic ...

Locke rules

Ian Hacking, 21 November 1991

Locke. Vol. I: Epistemology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06406 6
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Locke. Vol. II: Ontology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06407 4
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... well, or so Ayers argues. Here he is taking on the recently fashionable notions of Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam. Those are formidable opponents, but Locke is a staunch ally. His central analytical concepts of mode and substance are rather carefully tailored to much common experience which we still have, science or no. The most that Ayers will grant is ...

Taking Bad Arguments Seriously

Ian Hacking, 21 August 1997

... pathology Z in terms of the theories of reference advocated a quarter of a century ago by Hilary Putnam and Saul Kripke. Kripke and Putnam would call ‘schizophrenia’ a natural-kind term, if indeed this is a kind of illness that exists in nature. Putnam presents the ...

Foucault’s Slalom

David Hoy, 4 November 1982

Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, with an afterword by [afterword_writer].
Harvester, 256 pp., £18.95, October 1982, 0 7108 0450 4
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... however, other recent commentators on Foucault will need more persuasion. Harvard philosopher Hilary Putnam, for instance, maintains in Reason, Truth and History (1981) that Foucault is a relativist, and that relativism is logically unintelligible. Much like Habermas, Putnam thinks we must (for logical ...

Mitteleuropa am Aldwych

Ian Hacking: The Lakatos-Feyerabend Correspondence, 20 January 2000

For and against Method: including Lakatos’s Lectures on Scientific Method and the Lakatos-Feyerabend Correspondence 
by Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend, edited by Matteo Motterlini.
Chicago, 451 pp., £24, October 1999, 0 226 46774 0
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... all and sundry, and marvel at his arrogant jokes. His contempt for fashion, for instance: has Hilary Putnam led the American Philosophical Association in a public condemnation of organs such as the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly for publishing the ‘unfounded’, ‘racist, sexist and anti-working-class theories of Richard ...

Mathematics on Ice

Jim Holt: Infinities without End, 27 August 2009

Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity 
by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor.
Harvard, 256 pp., £19.95, April 2009, 978 0 674 03293 4
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... of neural process that could even correspond to the “perception of a mathematical object”,’ Hilary Putnam once observed. One way out of this dilemma is to throw over Plato for Aristotle. There may be no perfect mathematical entities in our world, but there are plenty of imperfect approximations. We can draw crude circles and lines on a ...

Death by erosion

Paul Seabright, 11 July 1991

Medical Choices, Medical Chances: How patients, families and physicians can cope with uncertainty 
by Harold Bursztajn, Richard Feinbloom, Robert Hamm and Archie Brodsky.
Routledge, 456 pp., £12.99, February 1991, 0 415 90292 4
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Examining doctors: Medicine in the 1900s 
by Donald Gould.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 571 14360 1
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Some Lives! A GP’s East End 
by David Widgery.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 248 pp., £15.95, July 1991, 1 85619 073 0
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... of the word ‘paradigm’, and nothing in this book has persuaded me otherwise (the philosopher Hilary Putnam, who contributes an interesting preface, describes how new theories are continually claiming to represent ‘Copernican Revolutions’ in their discipline, and warns that ‘we would be in a better position to determine what is and is not a ...
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature 
by Richard Rorty.
Blackwell, 401 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 631 12961 8
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The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy 
by Stanley Cavell.
Oxford, 511 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 502571 7
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Philosophy As It Is 
edited by Ted Honderich and Myles Burnyeat.
Pelican, 540 pp., £2.95, November 1979, 0 14 022136 0
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... contribution – the uniformly distinguished contributors include John Rawls, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, Saul Kripke, Ayer and Hampshire – is prefaced by a quite excellent editorial essay which makes available even to beginners work at the very frontiers of the discipline. But what this anthologising approach omits is also important. The ...

Understanding Forwards

Michael Wood: William James, 20 September 2007

William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
Mariner, 622 pp., £15, September 2007, 978 0 618 43325 4
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... is not that wizardry always helps, only that what helps is not to be sneered at. Some years ago, Hilary Putnam, seeking to interest analytic philosophers in the pragmatism they have no great regard for, drew their attention to the importance of being ‘both fallibilistic and antisceptical’. By ‘fallibilism’ he means the claim that ‘there is ...

Water’s water everywhere

Jerry Fodor, 21 October 2004

Kripke: Names, Necessity and Identity 
by Christopher Hughes.
Oxford, 247 pp., £35, January 2004, 0 19 824107 0
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... among possible worlds. A quick example will show how this is supposed to work. Some years ago, Hilary Putnam raised the following question, which analytic philosophy has been gnawing at ever since. Suppose somebody discovered a sort of stuff that is, to casual inspection, just like water (it’s wet, it’s clear and potable, it freezes at zero ...

The spirit in which things are said

Arnold Davidson, 20 December 1984

Themes out of School: Causes and Effects 
by Stanley Cavell.
Scolar/North Point, 288 pp., £16.95, January 1985, 0 86547 146 0
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... come under increasing attack from very different quarters, most notably in the writings of Hilary Putnam, a philosopher of unimpeachable technical accomplishment. Throughout these essays, Cavell worries aloud about how his hopes for philosophy can be met in the institutional practice of philosophy, more specifically about whether directions to ...


Paul Seabright, 21 March 1985

The Forger’s Art 
edited by Denis Dutton.
California, 276 pp., £18, June 1984, 0 520 04341 3
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Of Mind and Other Matters 
by Nelson Goodman.
Harvard, 210 pp., £14.90, April 1984, 0 674 63125 0
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Fact, Fiction and Forecast 
by Nelson Goodman.
Harvard, 131 pp., £4.20, April 1984, 0 674 29071 2
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But is it art? 
by B.R. Tilghman.
Blackwell, 193 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 631 13663 0
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... advanced by Saul Kripke a couple of years ago. In a new foreword to this fourth edition, Hilary Putnam mentions the parallel, but does not develop it. It is important because a formally identical argument is put to subtly different uses in the two books. Both show that similarities between the known and the unknown cannot be invoked ...

Some Versions of Narrative

Christopher Norris, 2 August 1984

Hermeneutics: Questions and Prospects 
edited by Gary Shapiro and Alan Sica.
Massachusetts, 310 pp., February 1984, 0 87023 416 1
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The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge 
by Jean-Francois Lyotard, translated by Geoff Bennington, Brian Massumi and Fredric Jameson.
Manchester, 110 pp., £23, August 1984, 0 7190 1450 6
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Literary Meaning: From Phenomenology to Deconstruction 
by William Ray.
Blackwell, 228 pp., £17.50, April 1984, 0 631 13457 3
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The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukacs, Marxism and the Dialectics of Form 
by J.M. Bernstein.
Harvester, 296 pp., £25, February 1984, 0 7108 0011 8
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Criticism and Objectivity 
by Raman Selden.
Allen and Unwin, 170 pp., £12.50, April 1984, 9780048000231
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... any effort to think these questions through. This puts him in the company of philosophers like Hilary Putnam who have argued against the kind of drastic dualism that sees only hard factual knowledge, on the one hand, and mere subjective ‘values’, on the other. Criticism has been bedevilled by such false dichotomies, Selden argues, since Mill made ...

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