Additional Reflections on Putnam, Wright and Brains in Vats

  • 1 Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG72RD, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Harold W. Noonan


Putnam’s argument against the sceptical Brain-in-a-Vat hypothesis continues to intrigue. I argue in what follows that the argument refutes a particular kind of sceptic and make a proposal about its more general significance. To appreciate the soundness of the argument, I explain, we need to appreciate that the sceptic’s contention is that I cannot know that I am not a brain in a vat even if I am not. This is why in response to the sceptic it is legitimate to make a transition from knowing that a sentence is true to knowing the truth it expresses, which is the crucial move in the argument.

  • Putnam, H. 1981. Reason, Truth and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Wright, C. 1992. “On Putnam’s Proof That We Are Not Brains-in-a-Vat.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society LXXXXII:67–94.

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