September 01, 2009

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Hilary Putnam will give the talk, "Philosophy in a Scientific Age," on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the ongoing Roy Wood Sellars lecture series.

Putnam is professor emeritus in the department of philosophy at Harvard University and has made hugely influential contributions in a number of areas of philosophical study. He is considered as one of the greatest "neo-pragmatists" and among the greatest living philosophers, according to Jason Leddington, assistant professor of philosophy at Bucknell.

"It is a real honor to have Putnam visit Bucknell. This is a great opportunity for students and faculty," said Leddington.

Prolific author
Putnam has written extensively on issues in metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. In recent years he also has written extensively on the relations between scientific and non-scientific knowledge and on American pragmatism. His 2004 book, Ethics Without Ontology, deals with many of these topics.

Born in Chicago in 1926, Putnam holds his degrees in mathematics and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA. Prior to his retirement from Harvard in 2001, he taught at Northwestern University, Princeton and MIT.

Putnam's best-known contribution to the philosophy of mind and language consists perhaps in the so-called Twin-Earth thought experiment (The Meaning of Meaning, 1975), which he used to defend the revolutionary but now widely accepted view that the meaning of (at least some) words is independent of what is in our heads.

Sellars Lectureship
The Roy Wood Sellars Lectureship was established in 1971 to celebrate both Roy Wood Sellars and W. Preston Warren.

For many years chair of the philosophy department at Bucknell, Warren was the author or editor of a number of papers and books on Sellars' philosophy. The first Sellars Lecture was given by Preston Warren, and the second by Wilfrid Sellars (with his father in attendance).

Professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, Sellars was instrumental in founding the Realist Movement in American philosophy.

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