Otto Neurath's Scientific Utopianism Revisited - A Refined Model for Utopias in Thought Experiments

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie (2):1-26 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Otto Neurath’s empiricist methodology of economics and his contributions to politi- cal economy have gained increasing attention in recent years. We connect this research with contemporary debates regarding the epistemological status of thought experiments by reconstructing Neurath’s utopias as linchpins of thought experiments. In our three reconstructed examples of different uses of utopias/dystopias in thought experiments we employ a reformulation of Häggqvist’s model for thought experiments and we argue that: (1) Our reformulation of Häggqvist’s model more adequately complies with many uses of thought experiments, especially with the open-ended discussions of utopias and dys- topias in thought experiments. (2) As a strict logical empiricist, Neurath is committed to a strictly empiricist account of thought experiments. John Norton’s empiricist argument view can indeed account for the justifications of empirical beliefs and genuine discoveries targeted by scientific utopianism in three distinct (yet connected) ways, all of which Neur- ath already contemplated: (2.I) Dealing with utopias and thought experiments on a regular basis increases creativity and inventiveness. (2.II) Particular ways of presenting knowl- edge facilitate scientific discovery and social progress. (2.III) The use of utopias in thought experiments can prompt conceptual change and allow access to new phenomena. We con- clude by highlighting that, even though thought experiments support a positive attitude for exploring new social possibilities, Neurath points out that active decisions are unavoidable. The exploration of alternatives and the awareness of a need for decisions in policy discus- sion avert a technocratic outlook in social science.

Similar books and articles

Recent Works on Otto Neurath.Massimo Ferrari - 2001 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 8:319-327.
Political Polyphony Otto Neurath and Politics reconsidered.Günther Sandner - 2014 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 17:211-222.
Revisiting Galison’s ‘Aufbau/Bauhaus’ in light of Neurath’s philosophical projects.Angela Potochnik & Audrey Yap - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (3):469-488.
Otto Neurath on the Structure of Protocol Sentences; A New Approach to an Interpretative Puzzle.Nikola Nottelmann - 2006 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 37 (1):165-186.
The Left Vienna Circle, Part 1. Carnap, Neurath, and the Left Vienna Circle thesis.Sarah S. Richardson - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):14-24.
Otto Neurath, the Vienna Circle and the Austrian Tradition.Thomas E. Uebel - 1999 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 44:249-269.
Interpreting Neurath’s Protocols. Reply to Nottelmann.Thomas Uebel - 2007 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 38 (2):383-391.


Added to PP

275 (#76,287)

6 months
156 (#22,582)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Alexander Linsbichler
Johannes Kepler University of Linz
Ivan Ferreira da Cunha
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Citations of this work

Otto Neurath’s Modernist Utopianism: Linking the Vienna Circle and H. G. Wells.Ivan Ferreira da Cunha - 2024 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 14 (1):25-51.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Mathematical truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
The material theory of induction.John D. Norton - 2021 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada: University of Calgary Press.

View all 48 references / Add more references