Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Brains in a vat, philosophy: thought experiment of Hilary Putnam (in Reason, truth and history, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1981) in which brains are floating in a nutrient solution while the reality is simulated through electrical impulses. It is about the question whether we can be sure not to be in such a situation. See also skepticism, reference, knowledge, causal theory of knowledge.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Horwich I 391
Brains in a Vat/BIV/Metaphysical Realism/Putnam: brains in a vat is part of metaphysical realism, not of internal realism - then "verified" does not imply "true".
V 21f
Brains in a Vat/Reference/Putnam: the language of brains in the vat does not refer to anything in the outside world. There is no reference. They cannot even think "We are brains in a vat".
V 77 ~
Bracketing/Putnam: parenthetical thoughts have no reference conditions that would make them true - internalism: (existential questions only within a theory) as brains in a vat we cannot think here that we are in the vat, except the bracketed sense.
V 179
Brains in a Vat/PutnamVsBrains in a Vat: our worldview is coherent, because, taken as a whole, it includes an explanation of our activity of coping and developing a world theory.
I 21
Brains in a Vat/Putnam: cannot refer to Brains in a Vat - meanings are not in the head.
I 156f
Brains in a Vat/Putnam: no problem for internalism, no possible worlds - externalism: here it is possible that some brains are outside the vat - realism: asserts extrinsic connections between signs and things that help explain the nature of the reference - PutnamVs: E.g. textbooks are the main cause of my beliefs about electrons, but my use of the word "electron" does not refer to these books - VsRealism: it cannot determine the "right kind of causality".

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Pu I
H. Putnam
Von einem Realistischen Standpunkt Frankfurt 1993

H. Putnam
Repräsentation und Realität Frankfurt 1999

H. Putnam
Für eine Erneuerung der Philosophie Stuttgart 1997

H. Putnam
Pragmatismus Eine offene Frage Frankfurt 1995

Pu V
H. Putnam
Vernunft, Wahrheit und Geschichte Frankfurt 1990

SocPut I
Robert D., Putnam
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community New York 2000

Hor I
P. Horwich (Ed.)
Theories of Truth Aldershot 1994

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-25