In this article, the author lays out a defense of Putnam’s controversial “Brains in a Vat” paper, and it’s famous refutation of the Cartesian brain-in-a-vat skeptic. The author looks closely at the paper, its argument, and its relation to skepticism. In addition to properly understanding the thought experiments and logical argument put forth by Putnam, one must also understand that his refutation is not aimed at the infinitely regressive skeptic, but rather the internal skeptic. The author shows this fact by inventing his own brain-in-a-vat scenario. So, although it remains a possibility that we are brains in a vat, we cannot talk or think about it. The author concludes by commenting on Wright’s response to Putnam, which seems to want Putnam’s metaphysical realists (the brains in the vat) to have what the author calls a “transcendental imagination,” which, in point of face, is something logically ruled out by the parameters of Putnam’s scenario. Thus, Wright’s critique misses the mark, despite presenting some valuable insights into metaphysical realism.
Gray, David Miguel
"You Just Can't Crispin Brains in a Vat,"
Episteme: Vol. 7, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.denison.edu/episteme/vol7/iss1/2