Unified science as political philosophy: Positivism, pluralism and liberalism

Logical positivism is widely associated with an illiberal technocratic view of politics. This view is a caricature. Some members of the left Vienna circle were explicit in their criticism of this conception of politics. In particular, Neurath's work attempted to link the internal epistemological pluralism and tolerance of logical empiricism with political pluralism and the rejection of a technocratic politics. This paper examines the role that unified science played in Neurath's defence of political and social pluralism. Neurath's project of unified science addressed problems that lie at the centre of recent debates around liberalism concerning the possibility of social co-operation in conditions of pluralism. His response is distinctive in calling upon an empiricist tradition that differs from Kantian proceduralist approaches that have predominated in recent liberalism. While Neurath's position has problems, it deserves reconsideration, especially in so far as it questions the Kantian assumption that a thin language of abstract rights provides the best basis for the cosmopolital lingua franca required by conditions of social pluralism. An investigation of the role that unified science plays in Neurath's politics also gives reasons for revising common misconceptions about the nature of the unity of science programme itself.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(03)00048-7
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References found in this work BETA
P. T. Geach (1956). Good and Evil. Analysis 17 (2):33 - 42.
Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam (1958). Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis. In Herbert Feigl, Michael Scriven & Grover Maxwell (eds.). University of Minnesota Press--3.
F. A. Hayek (1953). The Counter-Revolution of Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 4 (15):246-248.
Jonathan Dancy (1995). In Defense of Thick Concepts. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 20 (1):263-279.

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Citations of this work BETA
Donata Romizi (2012). The Vienna Circle’s “Scientific World-Conception”: Philosophy of Science in the Political Arena. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 2 (2):205-242.

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