RIP: Hilary Putnam (1926-2016)

Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard, died yesterday at the age of 89. Putnam made important contributions to many fields in philosophy, including philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, the history of philosophy (American pragmatism, Wittgenstein), moral philosophy, philosophy of mathematics, and, last but not least, philosophy of physics. For his bibliography, click here.

Among many accolades, Putnamn won the Lauener Prize for an Outstanding Oeuvre in Analytical Philosophy in 2012, and I was honored to meet him at the prize ceremony in Bern and the symposium in his honor. At least as recently as that, he was still very active and on top of his game, discussing recent developments concerning the interpretation of quantum mechanics with me on the occasion. It is unlikely that I will meet another philosopher with a comparable breadth in my lifetime, or a more deserving winner of a prize celebrating his lifetime achievements!

There will be a funeral today at 12:30 p.m. at Levine Chapel, 470 Harvard Street, Brookline, Massachusetts. Burial will be immediately after at the Crawford St. Cemetery at 776 Baker Street, West Roxbury. According to Daily Nous, his wife, Ruth Anna Putnam, writes in an email, “If you would like to make a gift in Hilary’s memory, please donate to Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104.”

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