Logical Positivism, Naturalistic Epistemology, and the Foundations of Psychology

Behavior and Philosophy 32 (1):37 - 54 (2004)
Authors
Richard Kitchener
Colorado State University
Abstract
According to the standard account, logical positivism 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 logical positivism, 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 logical positivism, Rudolph Carnap, shows an important naturalistic component in his philosophy. Hence, we must reevaluate our standard interpretation of the philosophy of logical positivism and its relation to psychological neo-behaviorism.
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