“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”

The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Part I, Section I, Chapter I

ABOVE: Etching of Adam Smith


Hilary W. Putnam is Cogan University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. One of the leading philosophers of our time, he is renown for his ground-breaking publications in metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. During the past several decades, he has also written extensively on the relations between scientific and non-scientific knowledge and on American pragmatism. His recent writing has had a significant impact on the discussion of the nature of philosophy itself, including its ethical relevance to contemporary society. A concern for many years has been the relation between facts and values, and he has argued that all judgments of fact are entangled with value judgments and all values are factually dependent. His work continues to define the research agendas of many other philosophers. A relentless prober, Dr. Putnam is frequently dissatisfied with his own answers and unafraid to change his mind. In addition to his work in philosophy, he is recognized for his contributions to mathematics for helping to demonstrate that David Hilbert’s Tenth Problem has no solution and his development (with Martin Davis) of an algorithm for determining the satisfiability of formulas in propositional calculus, an important tool in automated theorem-proving. After earning a baccalaureate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Putnam did graduate work in philosophy at Harvard and went on to take a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1951 at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he worked with Hans Reichenbach, one of Europe’s leading logical empiricists who had emigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis after Hitler’s rise to power. He taught at Northwestern University and then at Princeton, where he earned tenure in both the mathematics and philosophy departments, before accepting a professorship in the philosophy of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961. He was appointed professor of philosophy at Harvard four years later and remained there for the rest of his career. He became Walter Beverley Pearson Professor of Modern Mathematics and Mathematical Logic in 1976 and later was also named Cogan University Professor. He retired from teaching in 2000. Dr. Putnam has delivered numerous invited lectures, including the 1975-76 John Locke Lectures at Oxford University, the 1985 American Philosophical Association’s Carus Award Lecture, and the 1990-91 Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews. His many awards include the Ulysses Medal presented by University College Dublin. He is a past president of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division), the Philosophy of Science Association, and the Association for Symbolic Logic. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society, he is a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and the French Académie des Sciences Politiques et Morales. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg College, Kalamazoo College, the University of Athens, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, the University of St. Andrews, and the National University of Ireland. His writings include more than 200 papers published in academic journals, many of which have been collected in three volumes of Philosophical Papers (1975 and 1983), in Realism with A Human Face (1990), and in Words and Life (1994). In addition, he has edited four books and is the author of thirteen others. Among his most recent works are: The Threefold Cord: Mind, Body, and Word (1999), Enlightenment and Pragmatism (2001), The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays (2002), Ethics Without Ontology (2004), and his distinctive reading of three giants of modern Jewish thought who sought a fundamental reorientation of philosophy away from metaphysical abstraction, Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, and Levinas, which was published last year by Indiana University Press.