It is widely held that the current debate on the mind-body problem in analytic philosophy began during the 1950s at two distinct sources: one in America, de- riving from Herbert Feigl's writings, and the other in Australia, related to writings by U. T. Place and J. J. C. Smart (Feigl  1967). Jaegwon Kim recently wrote that "it was the papers by Smart and Feigl that introduced the mind-body problem as a mainstream metaphysical Problematik of analytical philosophy, and launched the (...) debate that has continued to this day" (Kim 1998, 1). Nonetheless, it is not at all obvious why these particular articles sparked a debate, nor why Feigl's work in particular came to play such a prominent part in it, nor how and to what extent Feigl's approach rests on the logical empiricism he endorsed. (shrink)
It is argued that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Bas van Fraassen nowhere uses the argument from underdetermination in his argument for constructive empiricism. It is explained that van Fraassen’s use of the notion of empirical equivalence in The Scientific Image has been widely misunderstood. A reconstruction of the main arguments for constructive empiricism is offered, showing how the passages that have been taken to be part of an appeal to the argument from underdetermination should actually be interpreted.
In his recent book, The Empirical Stance, Bas van Fraassen forcefully raises the question of what a philosophical position can or should be. He mainly discusses this question with regard to empiricism but his discussion makes it clear that he takes his proposed answer to be generalizable: not only empiricism but philosophical positions in general should be understood as stances rather than dogmata. The first part of this essay is devoted to an examination of van Fraassen’s critique of (...) ‘naïve’ or dogmatic empiricism, which represents an integral part of his argument for ‘stance’ empiricism. It will be argued that, contrary to van Fraassen’s view, not all versions of naïve empiricism run into the problems identified by him. In the second part of the paper the case will be made that, contrary to van Fraassen’s thesis, the stance empiricist is in at least as bad a position as the naïve empiricist with regard to the task of providing a radical critique of metaphysics, which van Fraassen takes to be an essential task that any empiricist should be able to accomplish. The third part of this essay concerns van Fraassen’s general proposal, and examines the question whether a philosophical position can possibly consist in a stance. It will be suggested that this is not the case. With regard to empiricism this has the implication that if one wants to be a philosopher and an empiricist at the same time one needs to subscribe to a form of naïve empiricism. Furthermore, it will be proposed that as a philosopher-empiricist one should want, or, at least, allow some form of metaphysical theorizing to be part of the philosophical enterprise after all. (shrink)
The issue of time-awareness presents a critical challenge for empiricism: if temporal properties are not directly perceived, how do we become aware of them? A unique empiricist account of time-awareness suggested by Hume's comments on time in the Treatise avoids the problems characteristic of other empiricist accounts. Hume's theory, however, has some counter-intuitive consequences. The failure of empiricists to come up with a defensible theory of time-awareness lends prima facie support to a non-empiricist theory of ideas.
In this paper I argue that aim-oriented empiricism (AOE), a conception of natural science that I have defended at some length elsewhere, is a kind of synthesis of the views of Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos, but is also an improvement over the views of all three. Whereas Popper's falsificationism protects metaphysical assumptions implicitly made by science from criticism, AOE exposes all such assumptions to sustained criticism, and furthermore focuses criticism on those assumptions most likely to need revision if science (...) is to make progress. Even though AOE is, in this way, more Popperian than Popper, it is also, in some respects, more like the views of Kuhn and Lakatos than falsificationism is. AOE is able, however, to solve problems which Kuhn's and Lakatos's views cannot solve. (shrink)
Constructive empiricists claim to offer a reconstruction of the aim and practice of science without adopting all the metaphysical commitments of scientific realism. Deflationists about truth boast of the ability to offer a full account of the nature of truth without adopting the metaphysical commitments accompanying substantive accounts. Though the two views would form an attractive package, I argue that the pairing is not possible: constructive empiricism requires a substantive account of truth. I articulate what sort of account of (...) truth and empirical adequacy the constructive empiricist must offer and then show why deflationists cannot uphold such an account. (shrink)
There is an enduring story about empiricism, which runs as follows: from Locke onwards to Carnap, empiricism is the doctrine in which raw sense-data are received through the passive mechanism of perception; experience is the effect produced by external reality on the mind or ‘receptors’. Empiricism on this view is the ‘handmaiden’ of experimental natural science, seeking to redefine philosophy and its methods in conformity with the results of modern science. Secondly, there is a story about materialism, (...) popularized initially by Marx and Engels and later restated as standard, ‘textbook’ history of philosophy in the English-speaking world. It portrays materialism as explicitly mechanistic, seeking to reduce the world of qualities, sensations, and purposive behaviour to a quantitative, usually deterministic physical scheme. Building on some recent scholarship, I aim to articulate the contrarian view according to which neither of these stories is true. On the contrary, empiricism turns out to be less ‘science-friendly’ and more concerned with moral matters; materialism reveals itself to be, in at least a large number of cases, a ‘vital’, anti-mechanistic doctrine which focuses on the unique properties of organic beings. This revision of two key philosophical episodes should reveal that our history of early modern philosophy is dependent to a great extent on ‘special interests’, whether positivistic or Kantian, and by extension lead us to rethink the relation and distinction between ‘science’ and ‘philosophy’ in this period. (shrink)
In this paper we suggest a revisionist perspective on two significant figures in early modern life science and philosophy: William Harvey and John Locke. Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, is often named as one of the rare representatives of the ‘life sciences’ who was a major figure in the Scientific Revolution. While this status itself is problematic, we would like to call attention to a different kind of problem: Harvey dislikes abstraction and controlled experiments (aside from (...) the ligature experiment in De Motu Cordis), tends to dismiss the value of instruments such as the microscope, and emphasizes instead the privileged status of ‘observed experience’. To use a contemporary term, Harvey appears to rely on, and chiefly value, ‘tacit knowledge’. Secondly, Locke’s project is often explained with reference to the image he uses in the Epistle to the Reader of his Essay, that he was an “underlabourer” of the sciences. In fact, despite the significant medical phase of his career, Locke’s ‘empiricism’ turns out to be above all a practical (i.e. ‘moral’) project, which focuses on the delimitation of our powers in order to achieve happiness, and rejects the possibility of naturalizing knowledge. When combined, these two cases suggest a different view of some canonical moments in early modern natural philosophy. (shrink)
This is the introduction to a collection of essays on 'embodied empiricism' in early modern philosophy and the life sciences - papers on Harvey, Glisson, Locke, Hume, Bonnet, Lamarck, on anatomy and physiology, on medicine and natural history, etc.
For three decades I have expounded and defended aim-oriented empiricism, a view of science which, l claim, solves a number of problems in the philosophy of science and has important implications for science itself and, when generalized, for the whole of academic inquiry, and for our capacity to solve our current global problems. Despite these claims, the view has received scant attention from philosophers of science. Recently, however, David Miller has criticized the view. Miller’s criticisms are, however, not valid.
This book offers a novel account of the relationship of experience to knowledge. The account builds on the intuitive idea that our ordinary perceptual judgments are not autonomous, that an interdependence obtains between our view of the world and our perceptual judgments. Anil Gupta shows in this important study that this interdependence is the key to a satisfactory account of experience. He uses tools from logic and the philosophy of language to argue that his account of experience makes available an (...) attractive and feasible empiricism. (shrink)
In this paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years.
Having assigned experience this exclusive role in justification, empiricists then have a range of views concerning the character of experience, the semantics of our claims about unobservable entities, the nature of empirical confirmation, and the possibility of non-empirical warrant for some further class of claims, such as those accepted on the basis of linguistic or logical rules. Given the definitive principle of their position, empiricists can allow that we have knowledge independent of experience only where what is known is not (...) some objective fact about the world, but something about our way of conceptualizing or describing things. Some empiricists say we have knowledge of verbal equivalences or trivialities; some argue that any non-empirical tenets are not even properly called knowledge, but should be seen as notions accepted on pragmatic rather than properly epistemic grounds. What no empiricist will allow is substantive a priori knowledge: according to empiricism we have no pure rational insight into real necessities or the inner structure of nature, but must rely on the deliverances of our senses for all of our information about external reality. Some versions of empiricism argue against the very notion of real necessities or metaphysical structure behind the phenomena; other versions take a more agnostic approach, arguing that if there is a metaphysical structure behind the phenomena it is either out of our epistemic reach, or known only to the extent that it can be grasped through experience, rather than through rational reflection. (shrink)
The concept of empiricism evokes both a historical tradition and a set of philosophical theses. The theses are usually understood to have been developed by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. But these figures did not use the term “empiricism,” and they did not see themselves as united by a shared epistemology into one school of thought. My dissertation analyzes the debate that elevated the concept of empiricism (and of an empiricist tradition) to prominence in English-language philosophy. -/- In (...) the 1870s and ’80s a lively debate about psychology emerged. Neo-Kantian idealists criticized the very idea that the mind can be studied scientifically. A group of philosopher-psychologists responded, often in Mind. They were among the first to call themselves “empiricists,” arguing that psychology could provide a scientific basis for philosophical progress. Idealists held that empirical psychology depended on premises developed by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. These premises were allegedly absurd because they rendered ideas of extension, as well as other ideas crucial to natural science, unreal. Those who wanted to advance psychology towards becoming a legitimate science were forced to engage these philosophical attacks, while at the same time to develop empirical theories that could successfully explain some characteristics of experience. I show how James’s theory of space perception accomplished both tasks. -/- In developing this theory, James found he had to reject the Lockean notion that reality is associated with passively-registered sensations. James also abandoned Berkeley and Hume’s claim that ideas are ultimately derived from atomic sensations. Instead, James presented experimental evidence that sensation is a continuous stream. The mind must actively parse this stream if it is to gain a coherent representation of its environment. I argue that James’s stream-of-thought thesis served as a presupposition of his entire psychology. The thesis showed how the labor of investigating the mind could be divided between philosophers and scientists, and in a manner sensitive to the concerns of both. The stream thesis also provided a scientific basis for a new philosophical empiricism that, I argue, has a hidden legacy in the history of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
This article explores Galen's analysis of and response to the Rationalist and Empiricist medical sects. It argues that his interest in their debate concerning the epistemology of medicine and anatomy was key to his advancement of an experimental methodology.
Intended for philosophically minded psychologists and psychologically minded philosophers, this book identifies the ways that psychology has hobbled itself by adhering too strictly to empiricism, this being the doctrine that all knowledge is observation-based. In the first part of this two-part work, we show that empiricism is false. In the second part, we identify the psychology-relevant consequences of this fact. Five of these are of special importance. First, whereas some psychopathologies (e.g. obsessive-compulsive disorder) corrupt the activity mediated by (...) one’s psychological architecture, others (e.g. sociopathy) corrupt that architecture itself. Second, the basic tenets of psychoanalysis are coherent. Third, all propositional attitudes are beliefs. Fourth, selves are minds that self-evaluate. Fifth, it is by giving our thoughts a perceptible form that we enable ourselves to evaluate them, and it is by expressing ourselves in language and art that we give our thoughts a perceptible form. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the discovery of mirror neurons supports simulation theory (ST). There has been much controversy about this, however, as there are various competing models of the functional contribution of mirror systems, only some of which characterize mirroring as simulation in the sense required by ST. But a brief review of these models reveals that they all include simulation in some sense . In this paper, I propose that the broader conception of simulation articulated by neo-empiricist theories (...) of concepts can subsume the more specific conceptions of simulation presented by ST and by these other models, thereby offering a framework in which each of these models may play a role. According to neo-empiricism, conceptual thought in general involves simulation in the sense that it is grounded in sensory, motor, and other embodied systems (Barsalou, Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 22 , 577–609, 1999 , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences , 364 , 1281–1289, 2009 ; Barsalou et al., Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 7 (2), 84–91, 2003 ; Prinz 2002 , Mind & Language , 25 (5), 612–621, 2010 ; Glenberg and Robertson, Journal of Memory and Language , 43 , 379–401, 2000 ). Crucially, the term “simulation” here refers not to simulations of a target agent’s experience in the sense endorsed by simulation theory but to the activation of sensory, motor, affective, and introspective representations. This difference does not entail that neo-empiricism must be in competition with ST—indeed, I will propose that ST can be embedded as a special case within neo-empiricism. (shrink)
For much of the second half of the 20th Century, the primary role logical empiricism played was that of the argumentative foil. The 'received view' on a given topic (especially in philosophy of science, logic, or language) was frequently identified with some supposedly dogmatic tenet of logical empiricism. However, during the last twenty-five years, scholars have paid serious, sustained attention to what the logical positivists, individually and collectively, actually said. Early scholarship on logical empiricism had to engage (...) in heavy-duty PR work: why should anyone study the now-discarded mixture of blunders and implausibilities collected under the label 'logical empiricism'? However, thanks to the efforts of the pioneers, people studying the logical empiricists today need not articulate an extended apologia for their chosen subject of study -- rather, they can simply get on with their work. Many of the best fruits of these recent labors are on display in The Cambridge Companion to Logical Empiricism (CCLE), edited by Alan Richardson and Thomas Uebel. (shrink)
Suggests that genuine discovery in the context of qualitative research implies a distance between what is seen in the phenomenological sense and what has already been described. The ingenuity of William James's descriptions of hitherto undescribed aspects of everyday experience are rooted in an openness to seeing that characterizes his "radical empiricism." James was a pathfinder and explorer who did introspection and discovered the phenomena of transitive consciousness. The concepts of seeing as the mode of discovery, problematics of the (...) intentionality principle, James's radical empiricism, reflection and post-reflective seeing, objectless consciousness and insight, and transforming intentional consciousness are discussed. Buddhist meditative disciplines aimed at the development of insight, rather than altered states of consciousness, offer systematic methods for cultivating this openness and for the facilitation of genuine discovery. (shrink)
For the past three decades linguistic theory has been based on the assumption that sentences are interpreted and constructed by the brain by means of computational processes analogous to those of a serial-digital computer. The recent interest in devices based on the neural network or parallel distributed processor (PDP) principle raises the possibility ("eliminative connectionism") that such devices may ultimately replace the S-D computer as the model for the interpretation and generation of language by the brain. An analysis of the (...) differences between the two models suggests that the effect of such a development would be to steer linguistic theory towards a return to the empiricism and behaviorism which prevailed before it was driven by Chomsky towards nativism and mentalism. Linguists, however, will not be persuaded to return to such a theory unless and until it can deal with the phenomenon of novel sentence construction as effectively as its nativist/mentalist rival. (shrink)
From one end of his philosophical work to the other, Gilles Deleuze consistently described his position as a transcendental empiricism. But just what is transcendental about Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism? And how does his position fit with the traditional empiricism articulated by Hume? In Difference and Givenness , Levi Bryant addresses these long-neglected questions so critical to an understanding of Deleuze’s thinking. Through a close examination of Deleuze’s independent work--focusing especially on Difference and Repetition-- as well as his (...) engagement with thinkers such as Kant, Mai;mon, Bergson, and Simondon, Bryant sets out to unearth Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and to show how it differs from transcendental idealism, absolute idealism, and traditional empiricism. What emerges from these efforts is a metaphysics that strives to articulate the conditions for real existence, capable of accounting for the individual itself without falling into conceptual or essentialist abstraction. In Bryant’s analysis, Deleuze’s metaphysics articulates an account of being as process or creative individuation based on difference, as well as a challenging critique--and explanation--of essentialist substance ontologies. A clear and powerful discussion of how Deleuze’s project relates to two of the most influential strains in the history of philosophy, this book will prove essential to anyone seeking to understand Deleuze’s thought and its specific contribution to metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
According to McDowell, in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind the myth of Jones has the purpose of completing the account of experience that Sellars needs to argue against traditional empiricism. In particular, on McDowell's view the myth of Jones should explain how to conceive of non-inferentially knowable experiences as containing propositional claims. This article argues that the myth of Jones does not succeed in providing such an account, especially on McDowell's own terms: assuming McDowell's epistemological distinction between (...) inferential and non-inferential knowledge, it turns out that in Sellars' thought experiment perceptual experiences can contain propositional claims only at the price of being known inferentially rather than non-inferentially. Therefore McDowell's Sellars' attack fails against traditional empiricism. (shrink)
In The Inference That Makes Science, Ernan McMullin recounts the clear historical progress he saw toward a vision of the sciences as conclusions reached rationally on the basis of empirical evidence. Distinctive of this vision was his view of science as driven by a specific form of inference, retroduction. To understand this properly, we need to disentangle the description of retroductive inference from the claims made on its behalf. To end I will suggest that the real rival to McMullin's vision (...) of science is not the methodologies he criticizes so successfully but a more radical empiricist alternative in epistemology. (shrink)
The starting point of this paper is Sellars’s rejection of foundationalist empiricism as found in his discussion of the Myth of the Given. Sellars attacks the Myth from two main angles, corresponding to the two elements of empiricism: the idea that our beliefs are justified by the world, and the idea that our concepts are derived from experience. In correctly attacking the second, Sellars is also, incorrectly, led to attack the first. Thus, Sellars rejects the commonsensical idea that (...) at least some of our ideas can be justified by appeal to the empirical world. My purpose is to examine why Sellars is led to this point, and how the same assumptions that lead him there also operate in his followers, such as Brandom, Rorty and McDowell. I then show how a rejection of these assumptions gives us a way around this problem that does not fall back into foundationalism. (shrink)
This book compares attitudes to empiricism in language study from mid-twentieth century philosophy of language and from present-day linguistics. It focuses on responses to the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle, particularly in the work of British philosopher J. L. Austin and the much less well-known work of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess.
In the last 20 years postmodernism has had a powerful effect on the discipline of history and is now forcing empiricist historians to articulate their methods, and to defend them as both possible and virtuous. In this concise introduction, Stephen Davies explains what historians mean by empiricism, examines the origins, growth and persistence of empirical methods, and shows how students can apply these methods to their own work.
Carnap, R. Empiricism, semantics, and ontology.--Quine, W. V. Two dogmas of empiricism. Meaning and translation.--Sellars, W. Empiricism and the philosophy of mind.--Putnam, H. Brains and behaviour.--Popper, K. R. Science: conjectures and refutations.--Feyerabend, P. K. Science without experience. How to be a good empiricist--a plea for tolerance in matters epistemological.--Kuhn, T. S. Incommensurability and paradigms.--Hesse, M. Duhem, Quine and a new empiricism.--Chomsky, N. Recent contributions to the theory of innate ideas.--Putnam, H. The innateness hypothesis and explanatory models (...) in linguistics.--Goodman, N. The epistemological argument.--Quine, W. V. Linguistics and philosophy.--Edgley, R. Chomsky's theory of innate ideas.--Fodor, J. A. Methodological arguments for behaviorism.--Chomsky, N. Some empirical assumptions in modern philosophy of language.--Annotated bibliography (p. 319-326). (shrink)
Several scholars have criticized the histories of early modern philosophy based on the dichotomy of empiricism and rationalism. They view them as overestimating the importance of epistemological issues for early modern philosophers (epistemological bias), portraying Kant's Critical philosophy as a superior alternative to empiricism and rationalism (Kantian bias), and forcing most or all early modern thinkers prior to Kant into the empiricist or rationalist camps (classificatory bias). Kant is often said to be the source of the three biases. (...) Against this criticism, this paper argues that Kant did not have the three biases. However, he promoted a way of writing histories of philosophy from which those biases would naturally flow. (shrink)
This paper considers George A. Reisch’s account of the role of Cold War political forces in shaping the apolitical stance that came to dominate philosophy of science in the late 1940s and 1950s. It argues that at least as early as the 1930s, Logical Empiricists such as Rudolf Carnap already held that philosophy of science could not properly have political aims, and further suggests that political forces alone cannot explain this view’s rise to dominance during the Cold War, since political (...) forces cannot explain why a philosophy of science with liberal democratic, anti-communist aims did not flourish. The paper then argues that if professionalization is understood in the right way, it might point toward an explanation of the apolitical stance of Cold War philosophy of science. (shrink)
1. I take my question from Robert Brandom, who remarks in his Study Guide (167): “The title of this essay is ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,’ but Sellars never comes right out and tells us what his attitude toward empiricism is.”1 Brandom goes on to discuss a passage that might seem to indicate a sympathy for empiricism on Sellars’s part, but he dismisses any such reading of it. (I shall come back to this.) He concludes: “Indeed, (...) we can see at this point [he has reached §45] that one of the major tasks of the whole essay is to dismantle empiricism” (168). I am going to argue that this claim is quite wrong. To do Brandom justice, I should note that when he defends his claim, what he mentions is, specifically, traditional empiricism. But he nowhere contemplates a possibility left open by this more detailed (and correct) specification of Sellars’s target — the possibility that Sellars might be aiming to rescue a non-traditional empiricism from the wreckage of traditional empiricism, so that he can show us how to be good empiricists. I think that is exactly what Sellars aims to do in this essay. (shrink)
During the period covered by this volume, Bertrand Russell first retired from and them resumed his philosophical career. In 1927 he published two philosophy books, The Analysis of Matter and An Outline of Philosophy. His next book in academic philosophy, An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, was not published until 1940. Yet, Russell published many essays and popular books between 1927 and 1946, mostly to finance the running of Beacon Hill School, and his growing family. Those years also saw his (...) break-up with Dora Russell, his marriage to Patricia (Peter) Spence and a move of the family to the United States. Volume 10 brings together Russell's writings on ethics, politics, religion and academic philosophy. (shrink)
This book offers first time translations of the initial (1781-89) critical reactions to Kant's philosophy. Also included is a selection of writings by Kant's contemporaries who took on the task of defending the critical philosophy against early attacks. The first aim of this collection is to show in detail how Kant was understood and misunderstood by his contemporaries. The second aim is to reveal the sorts of arguments that Kant and his first disciples mounted in their defense of the theoretical (...) philosophy. The third aim of the book is to contribute to an understanding of the development of Kant's critical philosophy after its initial formulation in the Critique of Pure Reason, and in particular why Kant made the changes he did in the second edition of the work in 1787. This collection, which includes a glossary of key terms and biographical sketches of the critics on both sides of the debate, is a major addition to Kant scholarship and should be seen as a companion volume to the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. (shrink)
"Space," William James confessed, "is [both] a direfully difficult subject [and the] driest of subjects.'" Nonetheless, convinced that most previous accounts of space were either incoherent or mythological, he set out to describe space as it is actually experienced. His first effort, "The Spatial Quale," appeared in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1879. 2 This article is historically important; as Ralph Barton Perry notes, "his peculiar view of the amplitude and eonnectedness of experience seems to have begun with the (...) application to space. ''3 But, despite this fact, it is seldom read today. It was not reprinted in James's Collected Essays and Reviews because the editor found "no important difference" between the content of this article and that of the chapter in The Principles of Psychology dealing with the same topic. 4 And it has not been included in more recent anthologies of James's writings. James would undoubtedly have concurred with the reasoning behind these editorial decisions. In the preface to the Psychology he wrote: Chapter 20, on Space-perception, is a terrible thing, which, unless written with all that detail, could not be fairly treated at all. An abridgment of it, called The Spatial Quale' ... may be found by some persons a useful substitute for the entire chapter? In fact, however, there is a significant philosophical difference between... (shrink)
Over the past thirty years Paul Feyerabend has developed an extremely distinctive and influentical approach to problems in the philosophy of science. The most important and seminal of his published essays are collected here in two volumes, with new introductions to provide an overview and historical perspective on the discussions of each part. Volume 1 presents papers on the interpretation of scientific theories, together with papers applying the views developed to particular problems in philosophy and physics. The essays in volume (...) 2 examine the origin and history of an abstract rationalism, as well as its consequences for the philosophy of science and methods of scientific research. Professor Feyerabend argues with great force and imagination for a comprehensive and opportunistic pluralism. In doing so he draws on extensive knowledge of scientific history and practice, and he is alert always to the wider philosophical, practical and political implications of conflicting views. These two volumes fully display the variety of his ideas, and confirm the originality and significance of his work. (shrink)
W.V. Quine’s article “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” is one of the most influential works in 20thcentury philosophy. The article is cast most explicitly as an argument against logical empiricists such as Carnap, arguing against the analytic/synthetic distinction that they appeal to along with their verificationism. But the article has been read much more broadly as an attack on the notion..
Radical empiricism is the view that a person's experiences (sensory and introspective), or a person's observations, constitute the person's evidence. This view leads to epistemic self-defeat. There are three arguments, concerning respectively: (1) epistemic starting points; (2) epistemic norms; (3) terms of epistemic appraisal. The source of self-defeat is traced to the fact that empiricism does not count a priori intuition as evidence (where a priori intuition is not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, (...) specifically intellectual as opposed to sensory). Moderate rationalism, by contrast, avoids self-defeat. (shrink)
DRAFT of my book on Realistic Empiricism. The book revives the neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell and applies the updated view to the problem of redefining physicalism, explaining the origins of sensation, and the problem of deriving extended physical objects and systems from an ontology of events.
Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", a short paper which appeared 50 years ago in the Philosophical Review, was a milestone within the development of analytic philosophy. It was more important than many big volumes before and after. This might strike someone not familiar with the analytic tradition as a bit unusual; such impact one might expect from whole books like the Critique of Pure Reason or the Tractatus, but not from a 16 page paper. In these remarks, which (...) opened a conference on Quine's seminal paper, I would like to indicate why "Two Dogmas" was and still is so important, not only as a standard topic of modern philosophical teaching and as a provocative treatment of the evergreen problem of analyticity, but also as one of the most challenging answers to the question what role philosophy can play in an age of science. (shrink)
David Chalmers supports his contention that there is a possible world populated by our zombie twins by arguing for the assumption that conceivability entails possibility. But, I argue, the modal epistemology he sets forth, ‘modal rationalism,’ ignores the problem of incompleteness and relies on an idealized notion of conceivability. As a consequence, this epistemology can’t justify our quotidian judgments of possibility, let alone those judgments that concern the mind/body connection. Working from the analogy that the imagination is to the possible (...) as perception is to the actual, I set forth a competing epistemology, ‘modal empiricism.’ This epistemology survives the incompleteness objection and allows some of our everyday modal judgments to be justified. But this epistemology can’t justify the claim that Zombie World is possible, which leaves Chalmers’s property dualism without the support it needs. (shrink)
Constructive empiricism is supposed to offer a positive alternative to scientific realism that dispenses with the need for metaphysics. I first review the terms of the debate before arguing that the standard objections to constructive empiricism are not decisive. I then explain van Fraassen's views on modality and counterfactuals, and argue that, because constructive empiricism recommends on epistemological grounds belief in the empirical adequacy rather than the truth of theories, it requires that there be an objective modal (...) distinction between the observable and the unobservable. This conclusion is incompatible with van Fraassen's empiricism. Finally I explain some further problems for constructive empiricism that arise when we consider modal matters. (shrink)
In this chapter, I outline and defend a version of concept empiricism. The theory has four central tenets: Concepts represent categories by reliable causal relations to category instances; conceptual representations of category vary from occasion to occasion; these representations are perceptually based; and these representations are all learned, not innate. The last two tenets on this list have been central to empiricism historically, and the first two have been developed in more recent years. I look at each in (...) turn, and then I discuss the most obvious objection to empiricism. According to that objection, some concepts cannot be perceptually based because they represent things that are abstract, and hence unperceivable. I discuss two standard examples: democracy and moral badness. I argue that both can be explained using resources available to the empiricist. (shrink)
Bas van Fraassen claims that constructive empiricism strikes a balance between the empiricist's commitments to epistemic modesty -- that one's opinion should extend no further beyond the deliverances of experience than is necessary -- and to the rationality of science. In "Should the Empiricist be a Constructive Empiricist?" I argued that if the constructive empiricist follows through on her commitment to epistemic modesty she will find herself adopting a much more extreme position than van Fraassen suggests. Van Fraassen and (...) Bradley Monton have recently responded. My purpose here is to contest their response. The goal is not merely the rebuttal of a rebuttal; there is a lesson to learn concerning the realist/anti-realist dialectic generated by van Fraassen's view. (shrink)
Constructive empiricism, the view introduced in The Scientific Image, is a view of science, an answer to the question "what is science?" Arthur Fine's and Paul Teller's contributions to this symposium challenge especially two key ideas required to formulate that view, namely the observable/unobservable and acceptance/belief distinctions. I wish to thank them not only for their insightful critique but also for the support they include. For they illuminate and counter some misunderstandings of Constructive Empiricism along the way. That (...) leaves me free to focus on those two main challenges. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against constructive empiricism that, as far as science is concerned, observability is not an adequate criterion as a guidance of cautious ontological commitment. My argument is in two stages. First, I argue that constructive empiricist choice of observability as a criterion for ontological commitment is based on the assumption that belief in the existence of unobservable entities is unreasonable because belief in the existence of an entity can only be vindicated by its observation. Second, (...) I argue that the kind of ontological commitment that is under consideration when accepting a theory is commitment to what I call a theoretical kind and that observation can vindicate commitment to kinds only in exceptional cases. (shrink)
There is a principle that both generates and destroys empiricism. It is a plausible principle, thus often appealed to. (Bernard Williams and Michael Dummett are notable subscribers.) Its consequences prove it wrong. This is a story of empiricism's rise and fall (a fall Frege mapped out for it). It is historically sketchy. But one should focus on the principle.
In the light of two unpublished letters from Carnap to Kuhn, this essay examines the relationship between Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Carnap's philosophical views. Contrary to the common wisdom that Kuhn's book refuted logical empiricism, it argues that Carnap's views of revolutionary scientific change are rather similar to those detailed by Kuhn. This serves both to explain Carnap's appreciation of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and to suggest that logical empiricism, insofar as that program rested (...) on Carnap's shoulders, was not substantially upstaged by Kuhn's book. (shrink)