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Of Brains in Vats, Whatever Brains in Vats May Be

Bredo C. Johnsen
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 112, No. 3 (Feb., 2003), pp. 225-249
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4321341
Page Count: 25
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Of Brains in Vats, Whatever Brains in Vats May Be
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Abstract

Hilary Putnam has offered two arguments to show that we cannot be brains in a vat, and one to show that our cognitive situation cannot be fully analogous to that of brains in a vat. The latter and one of the former are irreparably flawed by misapplications of, or mistaken inferences from, his semantic externalism; the third yields only a simple logical truth. The metaphysical realism that is Putnam's ultimate target is perfectly consistent with semantic externalism.

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