In this collection of essays one of the preeminent philosophers of science writing today offers a reinterpretation of the enduring significance of logicalpositivism, the revolutionary philosophical movement centered around the Vienna Circle in the 1920s and '30s. Michael Friedman argues that the logical positivists were radicals not by presenting a new version of empiricism (as is often thought to be the case) but rather by offering a new conception of a priori knowledge and its role in (...) empirical knowledge. This collection will be mandatory reading for any philosopher or historian of science interested in the history of logicalpositivism in particular or the evolution of modern philosophy in general. (shrink)
By the lights of a central logical positivist thesis in modal epistemology, for every necessary truth that we know, we know it a priori and for every contingent truth that we know, we know it a posteriori. Kripke attacks on both flanks, arguing that we know necessary a posteriori truths and that we probably know contingent a priori truths. In a reflection of Kripke’s confidence in his own arguments, the first of these Kripkean claims is far more widely accepted (...) than the second. Contrary to received opinion, the paper argues, the considerations Kripke adduces concerning truths purported to be necessary a posteriori do not disprove the logical positivist thesis that necessary truth and a priori truth are co-extensive. (shrink)
A new direction in philosophy Between 1920 and 1940 logical empiricism reset the direction of philosophy of science and much of the rest of Anglo-American philosophy. It began as a relatively organized movement centered on the Vienna Circle, and like-minded philosophers elsewhere, especially in Berlin. As Europe drifted into the Nazi era, several important figures, especially Carnap and Neurath, also found common ground in their liberal politics and radical social agenda. Together, the logical empiricists set out to reform (...) traditional philosophy with a new set of doctrines more firmly grounded in logic and science. Criticism and decline Because of Nazi persecution, most of the European adherents of logical empiricism moved to the United States in the late 1930s. During the 1940s, many of their most cherished tenets became targets of criticism from outsiders as well as from within their own ranks. Philosophers of science in the late 1950s and 1960s rejected logical empiricism and, starting in the 1970s, presented such alternative programs such as scientific realism with evolutionary epistemology. A resurgence of interest During the early 1980s, philosophers and historians of philosophy began to study logical empiricism as an important movement. Unlike their predecessors in the 1960s-for whom the debate over logical empiricism now seems to have been largely motivated by professional politics-these philosopher no longer have to take positions for or against logical empiricism. The result has been a more balanced view of that movement, its achievements, its failures, and its influence. Hard-to-find core writings now available This collection makes available a selection of the most influential and representative writings of the logical empiricists, important contemporary criticisms of their doctrines, their responses, as well as the recent reappraisals. Introductions to each volume examine the articles in historical context and provide importantbackground information that is vital to a full understanding of the issues discussed. They outline prevalent trends, identifying leading figures and summarize their positions and reasoning, as well as those of opposing thinkers. (shrink)
According to the standard account, logicalpositivism was the philosophical foundation of psychological neo-behaviorism. Smith (1986) has questioned this interpretation, suggesting that neo-behaviorism drew its philosophical inspiration from a different tradition, one more in keeping with naturalistic epistemology. Smith does not deny, however, the traditional interpretation of the philosophy of logicalpositivism, which sets it apart from naturalistic epistemology. In this article I suggest (following recent historical scholarship) that a more careful reading of the leading figure (...) of logicalpositivism, Rudolph Carnap, shows an important naturalistic component in his philosophy. Hence, we must reevaluate our standard interpretation of the philosophy of logicalpositivism and its relation to psychological neo-behaviorism. (shrink)
[Alan W. Richardson] This essay explores the uses that Michael Friedman and Bas van Fraassen have recently made of the work of Hans Reichenbach. It uses Friedman's work to complicate van Fraassen's invocation of Reichenbach's voluntarism in support of empiricism. It uses van Fraassen's work to motivate a concern with Friedman's neo-Kantian reading of Reichenbach. We are, finally, left with questions about the status and content of the account of the epistemic subject available to an epistemological voluntarist. /// (...) [Thomas E. Uebel] This response considers the question whether empiricists are condemned to silence about the epistemic agency their theories attribute or presuppose. It is argued that, unlike Reichenbach or Carnap, Neurath allowed for and indeed provided specifications of the role of epistemic agency in scientific inquiry. If this is correct, it underscores once more the need to distinguish between the various strands of logicalpositivism which show different strengths and weaknesses. (shrink)
Do the terms “logicalpositivism” and “logical empiricism” mark a philosophically real and significant distinction? There is, of course, no doubt that the first term designates the group of philosophers known as the Vienna Circle, headed by Moritz Schlick and including Rudolf Carnap, Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath, Friedrich Waismann and others. What is debatable, however, is whether the name “logicalpositivism” correctly distinguishes their doctrines from related ones called “logical empiricism” (...) that emerged from the Berlin Society for Scientific Philosophy around Hans Reichenbach which included Walter Dubislav, Kurt Grelling, Kurt Lewin and a young Carl Gustav Hempel.1 The .. (shrink)
The work of W.V.O. Quine is often held to folIow the logicalpositivism of the Vienna Circle in broad outline, but to diverge from it in crucial particulars. On the basis of recent reevaluations of the latter, I argue that the philosophical distance between Quine and the Vienna Circle is less than ordinarily thought, or, most importantly, than Quine himself admits.
This essay considers the nature of conceptual frameworks in science, and suggests a reconsideration of the role played by philosophy in radical conceptual change. On Kuhn's view of conceptual conflict, the scientist's appeal to philosophical principles is an obvious symptom of incommensurability; philosophical preferences are merely “subjective factors” that play a part in the “necessarily circular” arguments that scientists offer for their own conceptual commitments. Recent work by Friedman has persuasively challenged this view, revealing the roles that philosophical concerns have (...) played in preparing the way for conceptual change, creating an enlarged conceptual space in which alternatives to the prevailing framework become intelligible and can be rationally discussed. If we shift our focus from philosophical themes or preferences to the process of philosophical analysis, however, we can see philosophy in a different and much more significant historic role: not merely as an external source of general heuristic principles and new conceptual possibilities, but, at least in the most important revolutionary developments, as an objective tool of scientific inquiry. I suggest that this approach offers some insight into the philosophical significance of Newton's and Einstein's revolutionary work in physics, and of the interpretation of their work by (respectively) Kant and the logical positivists. It also offers insight into the connections between modern philosophy of science and some traditional philosophical concerns about the nature of a priori knowledge. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the history of analytic philosophy in general and of logicalpositivism in particular. It provides the first detailed and comprehensive study of Rudolf Carnap, one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century philosophy. The focus of the book is Carnap's first major work: Der logische Aufbau der Welt (The Logical Structure of the World). It reveals tensions within the context of German epistemology and philosophy of science in the early twentieth (...) century. Alan Richardson argues that Carnap's move to philosophy of science in the 1930s was largely an attempt to dissolve the tension in his early epistemology. This book fills a significant gap in the literature on the history of twentieth-century philosophy. It will be of particular importance to historians of analytic philosophy, philosophers of science, and historians of science. (shrink)
The identity theory’s rise to prominence in analytic philosophy of mind during the late 1950s and early 1960s is widely seen as a watershed in the development of physicalism, in the sense that whereas logical behaviourism proposed analytic and a priori ascertainable identities between the meanings of mental and physical-behavioural concepts, the identity theory proposed synthetic and a posteriori knowable identities between mental and physical properties. While this watershed does exist, the standard account of it is misleading, as it (...) is founded in erroneous intensional misreadings of the logical positivists’—especially Carnap’s—extensional notions of translation and meaning, as well as misinterpretations of the positivists’ shift from the strong thesis of translation-physicalism to the weaker and more liberal notion of reduction-physicalism that occurred in the Unity of Science programme. After setting the historical record straight, the essay traces the first truly modern identity theory to Schlick’s pre-positivist views circa 1920 and goes on to explore its further development in Feigl, arguing that the fundamental difference between the Schlick-Feigl identity theory and the more familiar and influential Place-Smart-Armstrong identity theory has resurfaced in the deep and seemingly unbridgeable gulf in contemporary philosophy of consciousness between inflationary mentalism and deflationary physicalism. (shrink)
Mary Everest, Boole's wife, claimed after the death of her husband that his logic had a psychological, pedagogical, and religious origin and aim rather than the mathematico-logical ones assigned to it by critics and scientists. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the validity of such a claim. The first section consists of an exposition of the claim without discussing its truthfulness; the discussion is left for the sections 2?4, in which some arguments provided by the examination (...) of the inner consistency of Mary Everest's writings, Boole's own writings, and other sources, lead to the conclusion that there are sound reasons to accept Mary Everest's viewpoint. (shrink)
One of the leading member of logicalpositivism, he was born in Orianenburg, Germany, in 1905. Between March 17 and 24, 1982, Hempel gave an interview to Richard Nolan; the text of that interview was published for the first time in 1988 in Italian translation (Hempel, 'Autobiografia intellettuale' in Oltre il positivismo logico , Armando : Rome, Italy : 1988). This interview is the main source of the following biographical notes.
Robert Cummins has recently used the program of Clark Hull to illustrate the effects of logical positivist epistemology upon psychological theory. On Cummins's account, Hull's theory is best understood as a functional analysis, rather than a nomological subsumption. Hull's commitment to the logical positivist view of explanation is said to have blinded him to this aspect of this theory, and thus restricted its scope. We will argue that this interpretation of Hull's epistemology, though common, is mistaken. Hull's epistemological (...) views were developed independently of, and in considerable contrast to, the principles of logicalpositivism. (shrink)