<!DOCTYPE html><HTML lang="en"> <head><meta charset="utf-8"> <title>Collier (John D.) - Could I conceive being a brain in a vat? (Theo Todman's Book Collection - Paper Abstracts) </title> <link href="../../TheosStyle.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"><link rel="shortcut icon" href="../../TT_ICO.png" /></head> <BODY> <CENTER> <div id="header"><HR><h1>Theo Todman's Web Page - Paper Abstracts</h1><HR></div><A name="Top"></A> <TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950> <tr><th><A HREF = "../../PaperSummaries/PaperSummary_09/PaperSummary_9643.htm">Could I conceive being a brain in a vat?</A></th></tr> <tr><th><A HREF = "../../Authors/C/Author_Collier (John D.).htm">Collier (John D.)</a></th></tr> <tr><th>Source: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 68, Number 4, December 1990, pp. 413-419(7)</th></tr> <tr><th>Paper - Abstract</th></tr> </TABLE> </CENTER> <P><CENTER><TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=600><tr><td><A HREF = "../../PaperSummaries/PaperSummary_09/PaperSummary_9643.htm">Paper Summary</A></td><td><A HREF = "../../PaperSummaries/PaperSummary_09/PapersToNotes_9643.htm">Notes Citing this Paper</A></td><td><A HREF="#ColourConventions">Text Colour-Conventions</a></td></tr></TABLE></CENTER></P> <hr><P><FONT COLOR = "0000FF"><U>Author s Introduction</U><FONT COLOR = "800080"><ol type="1"><li>Hilary Putnam considered whether, in the light of contemporary theories of meaning, the theory that we are <a name="1"></a><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_0/Notes_56.htm">brains in vats</A><SUP>1</SUP> could be true. His conclusion that it could not has caused consternation among realists, since his conclusion implies that an ideal theory satisfying all of our methodological and theoretical constraints could not be false. So far there has been no really effective reply. Most attempted refutations have either tried to show that Putnam's argument is unsound, or else that one or more of his assumptions is unjustified. I will accept here that Putnam's argument is sound, but argue that even then his conclusion allows a robust realism. This realism is relativistic in much the same way as Putnam's internal realism, but it allows the possibility that an ideal theory could be radically wrong about the world. </li><li>My strategy will be to distinguish between our ability to state a theory and our ability to conceive its possibility. I will argue that even given Putnam's assumptions, and despite Putnam's arguments, we can conceive being a <a name="2"></a><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_0/Notes_56.htm">brain in a vat</A><SUP>2</SUP>, and that this is all we need to retain a robust realism. Conceivability, not statability, is required by metaphysical realism. </li><li>Putnam's conclusion is part of his larger argument against metaphysical realism. Metaphysical realism involves <BR>& 1) a correspondence theory of truth, <BR>& 2) bivalence of properties, and <BR>& 3) the existence of a world independent of our representations. <BR>Its important consequences are that truth is radically non-epistemic, and that an ideal theory might be false. Although traditional metaphysical realism has opposed relativism, there is nothing intrinsic to Putnam's characterisation of it that rules relativism out. In particular, the correspondence theory of truth allows that different representations can correspond to the same reality, as long as the mode of their correspondence is different.</li></ol> </FONT><FONT COLOR = "0000FF"><HR></P><a name="ColourConventions"></a><p><b>Text Colour Conventions (see <A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_10/Notes_1025.htm">disclaimer</a>)</b></p><OL TYPE="1"><LI><FONT COLOR = "0000FF">Blue</FONT>: Text by me; &copy; Theo Todman, 2018</li><LI><FONT COLOR = "800080">Mauve</FONT>: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); &copy; the author(s)</li></OL> <BR><HR><BR><CENTER> <TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950> <TR><TD WIDTH="30%">&copy; Theo Todman, June 2007 - August 2018.</TD> <TD WIDTH="40%">Please address any comments on this page to <A HREF="mailto:theo@theotodman.com">theo@theotodman.com</A>.</TD> <TD WIDTH="30%">File output: <time datetime="2018-08-02T07:23" pubdate>02/08/2018 07:23:16</time> <br><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_10/Notes_1010.htm">Website Maintenance Dashboard</A></TD></TR> <TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="#Top">Return to Top of this Page</A></TD> <TD WIDTH="40%"><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_11/Notes_1140.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page</A></TD> <TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="../../index.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Home Page</A></TD> </TR></TABLE></CENTER><HR> </BODY> </HTML>