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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
Value judgments are meaningless. This thesis was one of the notorious tenets of Carnap’s mature logical empiricism. Less well known is the fact that in the Aufbau values were considered as philosophically respectable entities that could be constituted from value experiences. About 1930, however, values and value judgments were banished to the realm of meaningless metaphysics, and Carnap came to endorse a strict emotivism. The aim of this paper is to shed light on the question why Carnap abandoned his (...) originally positive attitude concerning values. It is argued that his non-cognitivist attitude was the symptom of a deep-rooted and never properly dissolved tension between conflicting inclinations towards Neokantianism and Lebensphilosophie. In America Carnap’s non-cognitivism became a major obstacle for a closer collaboration between logical empiricists and American pragmatists. Carnap’s persisting adherence to the dualism of practical life and theoretical science was the ultimate reason why he could not accept Morris’s and Kaplan’s pragmatist theses that cognitivism might well be compatible with a logical and empiricist scientific philosophy. (shrink)
Concepts are the constituents of thoughts. Therefore, concepts are vital to any theory of cognition. However, despite their widely accepted importance, there is little consensus about the nature and origin of concepts. Thanks to the work of Lawrence Barsalou, Jesse Prinz and others concept empiricism has been gaining momentum within the philosophy and psychology literature. Concept empiricism maintains that all concepts are copies, or combinations of copies, of perceptual representations—that is, all concepts are couched in the codes of (...) perceptual representation systems. It is widely agreed that any satisfactory theory of concepts must account for how concepts semantically compose (the compositionality requirement) and explain how their intentional content is determined (the content determination requirement). In this paper, I argue that concept empiricism has serious problems satisfying these two requirements. Therefore, although stored perceptual representations may facilitate some traditionally conceptual tasks, concepts should not be identified with copies of perceptual representations. (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)
For over 30 years I have argued that we need to construe science as accepting a metaphysical proposition concerning the comprehensibility of the universe. In a recent paper, Fred Muller criticizes this argument, and its implication that Bas van Fraassen’s constructive empiricism is untenable. In the present paper I argue that Muller’s criticisms are not valid. The issue is of some importance, for my argument that science accepts a metaphysical proposition is the first step in a broader argument intended (...) to demonstrate that we need to bring about a revolution in science, and ultimately in academic inquiry as a whole so that the basic aim becomes wisdom and not just knowledge. (shrink)
This essay examines the perspective from which Bas van Fraassen, in his book, The Empirical Stance, explains the project of empiricism. I argue that this perspective is a robustly transcendental perspective, which suggests that the tradition of empiricism lacks the resources to explain itself. I offer an alternative history of epistemic voluntarism in twentieth-century philosophy to the history van Fraassen himself provides, one that finds the novelty in van Fraassen's own views to be precisely his reintroduction of the (...) knowing mind into the tradition of analytic philosophy of science. (shrink)
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)
Abstract. Value judgments are meaningless. This thesis was one of the notorious tenets of Carnap’s mature logical empiricism. Less well known is the fact that in the Aufbau values were con-sidered as philosophically respectable entities that could be constituted from value experiences. About 1930, however, values were banished to the realm of meaning-less me-taphysics, and Carnap came to endorse a strict emotivism. The aim of this paper is to shed new light on the question why Carnap abandoned his originally (...) positive attitude concerning values. It is argued that Carnap’s non-cognitivist attitude was the symptom of a deep-rooted and never properly dissolved tension be-tween his conflicting inclinations towards Neokantianism and Lebensphilosophie. In America Carnap’s non-cognitivism became a major obstacle for a closer collaboration between lo-gical empiricists and American pragmatists. Carnap’s persisting ad---herence to the dualism of practical life and theoretical science was the ultimate reason why he could not accept Morris’s and Kaplan’s pragmatist the-ses that cognitivism might well are compatible with a logical and empiricist scientific philosophy. (shrink)
This paper examines the settlement movement (a social reform movement during the Progressive Era, roughly 1890–1920) in order to illustrate what pragmatism is and is not. In 1906, Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch proposed an analysis of settlement house methods. Because of her emphasis on interpretation and action, and because of the nature of the settlement movement as a social reform effort with vitally important consequences for everyone involved, it might be thought that her analysis would be pragmatist in character. This paper (...) shows that her analysis is empiricist, not pragmatist, and offers an alternative pragmatist sketch of settlement house methodology. (shrink)
Over the past years, in books and journals (this journal included), N. Maxwell launched a ferocious attack on B. C. van Fraassen’s view of science called Constructive Empiricism (CE). This attack has been totally ignored. Must we conclude from this silence that no defence is possible and that a fortiori Maxwell has buried CE once and for all? Or is the attack too obviously flawed as not to merit exposure? A careful dissection of Maxwell’s reasoning will make it clear (...) that neither is the case. This dissection includes an analysis of Maxwell’s ‘aberrance–argument’ (omnipresent in his many writings) for the claim that science implicitly and permanently accepts a substantial, metaphysical thesis about the universe, which then paves the way for his own metaphysical-realist hierarchy-view of science. This aberrance-claim, which Maxwell directs against a widely shared and harmful ideology of science called ‘Standard Empiricism’, generally has been ignored too, for more than a quarter of a century. Our conclusions will be that (i) Maxwell’s attacks on CE can be beaten off, and (ii) his ‘aberrance–arguments’ do not establish what Maxwell believes they establish, but (iii) we can draw a number of valuable lessons from these attacks about the nature of science and of the libertarian nature of CE. (shrink)
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, it is shown that empiricism is false. In the second part, the psychology-relevant consequences of this fact are identified. 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)
In Science as Social Knowledge in 1990 and The Fate of Knowledge in 2002, Helen Longino develops an epistemological theory known as Critical Contextual Empiricism (CCE). Knowledge production, she argues, is an active, value-laden practice, evidence is context dependent and relies on background assumptions, and science is a social inquiry that, under certain conditions, produces social knowledge with contextual objectivity. While Longino’s work has been generally well-received, there have been a number of criticisms of CCE raised in the philosophical (...) literature in recent years. In this paper I outline the key elements of Longino’s theory and propose modifications to the four norms offered by the account. The version of CCE I defend, which draws on lessons learned by medical researchers in recent years, gives principles of epistemic diversity a central role and also provides greater specification of three of the four norms. Further, it offers additional resources for defending CCE against Alvin Goldman’s suggestion that there is a need for a “healthy dogmatism” in science, as well as a concern about “manufactured uncertainty” arising out of recent work by David Michaels. Finally, the modified version proposed here is also well positioned to respond (negatively) to a suggestion from Kristen Intemann that CCE needs to be adapted to incorporate a central insight from feminist standpoint theory. In light of the variety of social pressures influencing contemporary scientific research, and the role of science in shaping public policy, I argue that a rigorous social epistemology such as CCE is indispensable for understanding and assessing contemporary scientific practice. (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)
Eino Kaila's thought occupies a curious position within the logical empiricist movement. Along with Hans Reichenbach, Herbert Feigl, and the early Moritz Schlick, Kaila advocates a realist approach towards science and the project of a “scientific world conception”. This realist approach was chiefly directed at both Kantianism and Poincaréan conventionalism. The case in point was the theory of measurement. According to Kaila, the foundations of physical reality are characterized by the existence of invariant systems of relations, which he called structures. (...) In a certain sense, these invariant structures, he maintained, are constituted in the act of measuring. By “constitution”, however, Kaila meant neither the dependency of the objects of measurement on a priori concepts (or Kantian categories) nor their being effected by conventional stipulations in a Poincaréan sense. He held that invariant structures are, quite literally, real: they exist prior to and independently of our theoretical capacity. By executing measurements, invariant structures are detected and objectively determinable by laws of nature. (shrink)
T. H. Morgan (1866–1945), the founder of the Drosophila research group in genetics that established the chromosome theory of Mendelian inheritance, has been described as a radical empiricist in the historical literature. His empiricism, furthermore, is supposed to have prejudiced him against certain scientific conclusions. This paper aims to show two things: first, that the sense in which the term empiricism has been used by scholars is too weak to be illuminating. It is necessary to distinguish between (...) class='Hi'>empiricism as an epistemological position and the so-called methodological empiricism. I will argue that the way the latter has been presented cannot distinguish an empiricist methodology from a non-empiricist one. Second, I will show that T. H. Morgan was not an epistemological empiricist as this term is usually defined in philosophy. The reason is that he believed in the existence of genes as material entities when they were unobservable entities when they were unobservable entities introduced to account for the phenotypic ratios found in breeding experiments. These two points, of course, are interrelated. If we were to water down the meaning of empiricis, perhaps we could call Morgan an empiricist. But then we would also fail to distinguish empiricism from realism. (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)
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)
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)
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)
This article examines the work of the seventeenth-century thinker Catharine Trotter Cockburn with an eye toward explication of her trenchant empiricism, and the foundations upon which it rested. It is argued that part of the originality of Cockburn's work has to do with her consistent line of thought with regard to evidence from the senses and the process of abstract conceptualization; in this she differed strongly from some of her contemporaries. The work of Martha Brandt Bolton and Fidelis Morgan (...) is cited, and there is an auxiliary argument to the effect that Cockburn is probably better known as a playwright than she is as a philosophical thinker. (shrink)
Though classical and twentieth-century versions of empiricism and rationalism fail in their aims, as does the Kantian attempt at a compromise between those views, there are residues of those views that play important roles in the scientific enterprise. Those residue, and their scientific roles, are examined in this paper.
This reassessment of the long debate about Friedman's thesis on the pointlessness of testing assumptions in economics shows that Friedman's three famous examples, on which a large part of the credit given to this thesis is based, far from substantiating it, can be used to establish radically opposite conclusions. Furthermore, it is shown that this so-called “instrumentalist” thesis, when applied by Friedman to economics, is of a quite different nature and raises much more serious problems than the standard instrumentalist thesis (...) devised by some methodologists of physics. To disentangle these ambiguities concerning realism and instrumentalism applied to physics or to economics, this paper refers to Van Fraassen's “constructive empiricism”, which is helpful in reformulating, in a more satisfactory way, the essentials of Friedman's considerations about empiricism and anti-realism. (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)
Carnap’s work was instrumental to the liberalization of empiricism in the 1930s that transformed the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle to what came to be known as logical empiricism. A central feature of this liberalization was the deployment of the Principle of Tolerance, originally introduced in logic, but now invoked in an epistemological context in “Testability and Meaning” (Carnap 1936a, 1937b). Immediately afterwards, starting with Foundations of Logic and Mathematics, Carnap (1939) embraced semantics and turned to interpretation (...) to guide the choice of a theoretical language for science. The first thesis of this paper is that recourse to an intended interpretation led to a partial retrenchment of the conventionalism implied by the Principle of Tolerance. It required that the choice of a language be based on abstraction from a (typically empirical) context; this procedure later became a component of the process of explication that was distinctive to Carnap’s mature views. The (typically empirical) interpretive origin of formal systems also ensured their likely syntactic consistency, an issue on which Carnap was strongly criticized by figures such as Beth and Gödel. The second thesis of this paper is that this reliance on an intended interpretation enabled constructed formal systems to be relevant to the development of empirical science. (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)