ABSTRACT

Realism is one of the most important themes in Putnam’s work. But it has many faces, as he says, and so it is not easy to characterize. Putnam thinks philosophers should not ignore the world of everyday man. This does not mean, however, that he defends a naïve, commonsense realism. Philosophical studies should take into account scientific results, and although our everyday world seems to be far from a scientific one, philosophy should be both scientific and humanistic. According to this view philosophy should not describe the world from the perspective of scientific materialism, because scientific materialism leaves no room for the rich cognitive and normative activity of human beings. Nor should the world be considered from the imaginary absolute perspective of metaphysical realism, which aspires to conceive of the things in the world independently of any of our beliefs about them. In Putnam’s view, scientific materialism and metaphysical realism are two versions of the same misguided philosophical quest for a completely objective perspective on the world.