David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Logical Positivism, could not be said to be au courant as a philosophical movement.1 Indeed not only is the movement no longer in existence, it's projects are no longer central to philosophical investigations, even to the investigations of those who specialize in the philosophy of science. If Positivism has been making a comeback it is primarily as an object of historical inquiry, perhaps as a means to answering the question of how we got from there (our forefathers' primary philosophical interests and presuppositions) to here (our own current philosophical interests and presuppositions). The historical study of Positivism is indeed a worthwhile pursuit. However I think we still have room for a genuine inquiry into the possibility of completing at least some of the Positivists' projects. To borrow one of Carnap's most famous metaphors; besides the external project of asking what motivated the Positivists, what were their influences and basic presumptions, and what influence did they have, we can ask the internal question of how might their projects be completed. In attempting to complete some of those projects we may need recourse to methods, for instance, new types of logical constructions, that were unavailable to the Positivists. Such recourse will be legitimate as long as the methods are of a kind with those employed by the Positivists themselves. The Logical Positivists of course had many different projects that one might consider worthy of pursuit. Amongst the most prominent of these are the construction of a verificationist account of meaning, a criterion for demarcating science from metaphysics, various accounts of confirmation, and accounts of the status and nature of logical, mathematical, and scientific truths. Often these projects, for reasons good and bad, are run together by both the Positivists and their critics. To find what is worth preserving in Positivism one sometimes needs to tease them apart.
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Ken Gemes (2006). Bootstrapping and Content Parts. Erkenntnis 64 (3):345 - 370.
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