William stanley jevons and the extent of meaning in logic and economics

History and Philosophy of Logic 19 (2):83-99 (1998)
Abstract
This paper shows that William Stanley Jevons was not precursor of logical positivism despite his attempt to build up a unified science. His mechanical reductionism was directed towards this project, and Jevons tried to found mathematics on logic through the development of a theory of number. We show that his attempts were unsuccessful, and that his errors remain visible within the totality of his mechanical system, including his economics. We argue that both his logic and his economics are comprehensible only when interpreted in terms of extent of meaning, and that Jevons? system gives rise to difficulties when interpreted in terms of intent of meaning. We argue that Jevons? methodological recommendations were intended to bridge the gap between extent and intent of meaning. Although Jevons did not succeed in establishing a unified science, his flawed methodology resulted in one of the first applications of statistics to the social sciences
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H. Maas (1999). Mechanical Rationality: Jevons and the Making of Economic Man. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 30 (4):587-619.
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