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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 16, Issue 2, Mayo 2001

Louise Cummings
Pages 237-268

Self-Refutations and Much More
The Dialectical Thinking of Hilary Putnam

In the following discussion, I examine what constitutes the dialectical strain in Putnam’s thought. As part of this examination, I consider Putnam’s (1981) criticism of the fact/value dichotomy. I compare this criticism to Putnam’s analysis of the metaphysical realist’s position, a position which has occupied Putnam’s thinking more than any other philosophical stance. I describe how Putnam pursues a charge of self-refutation against the metaphysical realist and against the proponent of a fact/value dichotomy, a charge which assumes dialectical significance. So it is that the self-refuting nature of these positions is linked to their unintelligibility. My conclusion relates Putnam’s dialectical project to his wider philosophical ambitions, ambitions which are influenced in large part by Wittgensteinian considerations.

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