. Critical realism is a frequently mentioned, but not very well-known, late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century philosophical tradition. Having its roots in Kantian epistemology, critical realism is best characterized as a revisionist approach toward the original Kantian doctrine. Its most outstanding thesis is the idea that Kantian things-in-themselves are knowable. This idea was—at least implicitly—suggested by thinkers such as Alois Riehl, Wilhelm Wundt, and Oswald Külpe. Interestingly enough, the philosophical position of the early Moritz Schlick stands in the critical realist tradition as (...) well. As will be outlined in the course of this paper, both Schlick’s magnum opus General Theory of Knowledge (1918) and his seminal Space and Time in Contemporary Physics (1917) are based on the assumption that the objects of science are relations and that relations have the status of Kantian things-in-themselves. By way of conclusion, I shall point out that this— more or less directly—leads to the current debate over ‘structural’ realism. (shrink)
Structure is the connecting link between the early epistemologies of Cassirer, Schlick, and Carnap. However, there are important programmatic differences among Cassirer’s, Schlick’s, and Carnap’s articulations of the structuralistic point of view. Whereas Cassirer hoped to argue in favor of an ‚idealist‘ and Schlick in favor of a ‚realist‘ conception of structure, Carnap thought it possible to remain neutral in this respect. I will argue that Carnap’s approach, though at first sight promising, was doomed to failure precisely because of its (...) base in ‚neutralism‘. In order to distinguish mathematical from physical structures, a certain form of realism is necessarily required. (shrink)
Helmholtz's theory of space had significant impact on Schlick's early ?critical realist? point of view. However, it will be argued in this paper that Schlick's appropriation of Helmholtz's ideas eventually lead to a rather radical transformation of the original Helmholtzian position.
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)