First edition of Hilary Putnam's Ethics Without Ontology; Inscribed by Him
Ethics Without Ontology.
Item Number: 68341
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.
First edition of this work on ontology by one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Octavo, original cloth. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “For John Hilary Putnam April 4, ’15.” Name to the front free endpaper, fine in a fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Gwen Nefsky Frankfeldt.
In this brief book one of the most distinguished philosophers takes up the question of whether ethical judgments can properly be considered objective--a question that has vexed philosophers over the past century. Looking at the efforts of philosophers from the Enlightenment through the twentieth century, Putnam traces the ways in which ethical problems arise in a historical context. Hilary Putnam's central concern is ontology--indeed, the very idea of ontology as the division of philosophy concerned with what (ultimately) exists. Reviewing what he deems the disastrous consequences of ontology's influence on analytic philosophy--in particular, the contortions it imposes upon debates about the objective of ethical judgments--Putnam proposes abandoning the very idea of ontology. He argues persuasively that the attempt to provide an ontological explanation of the objectivity of either mathematics or ethics is, in fact, an attempt to provide justifications that are extraneous to mathematics and ethics--and is thus deeply misguided.