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Weekly reading: Putnam on the corroboration of theories

“There is no logic of discovery – in that sense, there is no logic of testing, either; all the formal algorithms proposed for testing, by Carnap, by Popper, by Chomsky, etc., are, to speak impolitely, ridiculous; if you don’t believe this, program a computer to employ one of these algorithms and see how well it does at testing theories! There are maxims for discovery and maxims for testing: the idea that correct ideas just come from the sky, while the methods for testing them are highly rigid and predetermined, is one of the worst legacies of the Vienna Circle.” – Putnam, 1974.

Putnam offers a passionate rebuttal of logical empiricism but later on became more skeptical about metaphysical ‘evidence’ not directly linked to sensory impressions.

H. Putnam. 1974. The “corroboration” of theories; pp. 221-240. In: P.A. Schilpp, Editor. The Philosophy of Karl Popper, Volume 1. Open Court, La Salle, IL. Available (as a reprint) here.

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