Lauener Foundation for Analytical Philosophy
Friday 22 June 2012
5th International Lauener Symposium
on Analytical Philosophy
In Honour of Professor Hilary Putnam
Prof. Dr. Mario De Caro
One thread running through Putnam's different philosophical phases in the last decades is his strong refusal of Scientific Naturalism, i.e. the view according to which, (i) Ontology is defined by the natural sciences alone, (ii) the only acceptable methods for acquiring knowledge are the methods accepted by science (or those reducible to them), and (iii) philosophy should be continuous with science. But today on the market there also is a broader, more tolerant form of naturalism (Liberal Naturalism), with which now Putnam strongly sympathizes. All the versions of this conception claim that our ontology and epistemology should not be limited by the sciences of nature and that philosophy is not necessarily continuous with science - even though no entity or explanation should be accepted that contradict the scientific view of the world. Besides these general theses, Putnam's version of Liberal Naturalism is characterized by the endorsement of Scientific Realism; the rejection of both Metaphysical and Internal Realism; the defense of ontological and conceptual pluralism; a deep respect of both the scientific and the ordinary view of the world; the refusal of both First philosophy and Second Philosophy (in Penelope Maddy's term); the idea that in some fields (such as ethics and mathematics) our sentences can be objective even if there are no related special entities to which our judgments refer. In my talk, I will argue that these theses hang together reasonably well and that Putnam's Liberal Naturalism is preferable to the other forms of naturalism, both in the scientific and in the liberal family.