In this paper, we propose a framework for fostering argumentative skills in a systematic way in Philosophy and Ethics classes. We start with a review of curricula and teaching materials from the German-speaking world to show that there is an urgent need for standards for the teaching and learning of argumentation. Against this backdrop, we present a framework for such standards that is intended to tackle these difficulties. The spiral-curricular model of argumentative competences we sketch helps teachers introduce the relevant (...) concepts and skills to students early on in their school career. The focus is on secondary schools, but the proposal can also be of use for learning and teaching in universities, especially in introductory classes. (shrink)
Der Sammelband umfasst Aufsätze zu den Grundfragen, Anwendungen und Grenzen des Unterrichts des Argumentierens, in allen Fächern und mit Fokus auf die Fächer Philosophie und Ethik. Dabei werden Fragen wie diese behandelt: Welchen Zielen dient das Argumentieren und welche verfolgt der Unterricht des Argumentierens? In welchem Verhältnis stehen diese zu anderen Zielen des Unterrichts? Welche Kenntnisse, Fähigkeiten und Tugenden des Argumentierens sollen eingeübt werden und wie? Die vorgeschlagenen Antworten sind nicht nur für Personen aus der Fachdidaktik, sondern auch aus der (...) Philosophie und der Schullehrpraxis aller Fächer interessant. Der Band trägt damit auch zur stärkeren Etablierung des Felds der Argumentationsdidaktik bei. (shrink)
This article is intended as a contribution to the current debates about the relationship between politics and the philosophy of science in the Vienna Circle. I reconsider this issue by shifting the focus from philosophy of science as theory to philosophy of science as practice. From this perspective I take as a starting point the Vienna Circle’s scientific world-conception and emphasize its practical nature: I reinterpret its tenets as a set of recommendations that express the particular epistemological attitude in which (...) both the Vienna Circle’s (doing) philosophy of science and its political engagement were rooted. -/- Regarding politics, and referring to new primary sources, I reconstruct how the scientific world-conception placed the Vienna Circle within a neoliberal-socialist political network that pursued concrete political aims. In light of my reconstruction I shall argue that neither the Vienna Circle’s alleged ethical noncognitivism nor its alleged adhesion to the Weberian ideal of a value-free science rules out the possibility of ascribing to the Vienna Circle a politically engaged philosophy of science: the case of the Vienna Circle shows how philosophy of science, as a public activity, can itself become a form of political engagement, even without necessarily entailing a theory of objective values. (shrink)
The present paper focuses on the work of Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874), the Belgian author of the Social Physics who worked in the tradition of the French mathématique sociale, and of Otto Neurath (1882-1945), the Vienna Circle’s member who supported a “sociology within physicalism”. They shared some important philosophical and methodological positions: an empiricist approach to the social sciences, a unitary conception of the natural and the social sciences, and the appreciation of statistics as a tool for investigating and also reforming (...) society. My paper analyses these elements of continuity between the two authors, in order to highlight how an empirical-quantitative approach to society was (at least partially) inherited by Austrian sociology from an earlier French tradition. On the contrary, most German statisticians refused such an approach at the time in which social sciences were developing in Germany, and they strongly believed in an in-principle difference between natural and social sciences. From a systematic point of view, my paper devotes a special attention to the relationship between the application of statistics (praxis) and a unitary conception of the sciences (theory). Both in Quetelet’s and in Neurath’s work these two aspects support each other. Nevertheless Neurath can be said to have turned Quetelet’s reasoning upside-down: While Quetelet appealed to statistics to claim that the social sciences can reach the same objectivity and determinacy as the natural ones, Neurath referred to statistics to argue that the natural sciences – exactly like the social ones – are characterized by a certain degree of indeterminacy and underdetermination. (shrink)
In this paper, we deal with the issue of contradictory beliefs, particularly with regard to Philosophical Counseling: both voices from the philosophical tradition (with no claim of being exhaustive!) and concepts developed by philosophical practitioners will be considered, in order to make clear what a wide range of resources for dealing with contradictions is available to the philosopher who may wish to engage in Philosophical Counseling. Among the philosophical practitioners, we devote special consideration to Ben Mijuskovic and Gerd Achenbach, and (...) this for two main reasons: first, because the issue of contradiction plays a central role in their concept of Philosophical Counseling and, accordingly, it is given special consideration in their writings; second, because their approaches to Philosophical Counseling are so different that by looking at them one can get an impression of the variety of the positions one can adopt in Philosophical Counseling with respect to the issue of contradiction. (shrink)
The present paper has two main aims. The first one is philosophical and is related to the general topic of this volume (Logical Empiricism and Pragmatism): I would like to draw attention to the fact that the issue of classical scientific determinism, despite being ‘metaphysical’ and thereby ‘nonsensical’ according to the Vienna Circle's ‘scientific world conception’, bothered philosophers, like William James and Charles Peirce, who were deeply involved in scientific practice. At the end of the paper I shall raise the (...) question of why it was so and what this fact may suggest about the relationship between science and metaphysics. The second main aim of this paper is historico-philosophical: in the time span between the late 1870s and by the turn of 1900 James (1842–1910) and Peirce (1839–1914) contributed repeatedly to the ongoing discussions about scientific determinism. In this paper I give a general overview of their positions based mainly on primary sources and I embed them into the broader context of the history of the concept of scientific determinism, dedicating special attention to their relationship with a particular French anti-deterministic tradition (Renouvier, Poincaré, Boutroux and Bergson). (shrink)
The application of statistical methods and models both in the natural and social sciences is nowadays a trivial fact which nobody would deny. Bold analogies even suggest the application of the same statistical models to fields as different as statistical mechanics and economics, among them the case of the young and controversial discipline of Econophysics . Less trivial, however, is the answer to the philosophical question, which has been raised ever since the possibility of “commuting” statistical thinking and models between (...) natural and social sciences emerged: whether such a methodological kinship would imply some kind of more profound unity of the natural and the social domain. Starting with Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) and ending with the Vienna Circle (from the late 1920s until the 1940s), this paper offers a brief historical and philosophical reconstruction of some important stages in the development of statistics as “commuting” between the natural and the social sciences. This reconstruction is meant to highlight (with respect to the authors under consideration): (1) the existence of a significant correlation between the readiness to “transfer” statistical thinking from natural to social sciences and vice versa, on the one hand, and the standpoints on the issue of the unity/disunity of science, on the other; (2) the historical roots and the fortunes of the analogy between statistical models of society and statistical models of gases. (shrink)
Unter Philosophischer Praxis versteht man professionell betriebene philosophische Lebensberatung. In diesem Artikel werden eine kontinentale Konzeption von Philosophischer Praxis und eine analytische – anhand von Aufsätzen von Gerd Achenbach und Ben Mijuskovic – gegenübergestellt und mit einigen Bemerkungen Wittgensteins in Beziehung gesetzt. Es zeigt sich, dass diese Bemerkungen als Korrektiv sowohl der kontinentalen als auch der analytischen Auffassung gelesen werden können.
The book deals with the changing nature and with the history of the concept of scientific determinism from the classical mechanics until the time immediately preceding quantum mechanics: such a historical-philosophical reconstruction is aimed at (1) signalizing and overcoming the deficiencies of the received opinion on the topic and (2) understanding better a concept which has influenced science from the beginning. -/- Before dealing with historical matters I develop in the first Chapter a kind of new, three-dimensional “measurement system” for (...) analyzing any concept of scientific determinism: many different concepts have been developed in the course of history, and we need a classification system which, on the one hand, is inclusive and broad enough to deal with different concepts; on the other hand, which makes possible to differentiate with some precision between them. My “measurement system” has three dimension or parameter: the “strength” (of the determining link between different states of the physical system), the “depth” (depending on how strong the ontological commitment of the particular concept of scientific determinism is), and the breadth (referring to the domain or the object, to which a deterministic evolution is ascribed). -/- In the second chapter I discuss briefly some main shortcomings of the received opinion about scientific determinism. Then I try to identify the “core” of scientific determinism at its origins while at the same time embedding it in the broader historical-cultural context especially of the Renaissance. On the one hand I show how the core of scientific determinism was mathematical, and this distinguished it from other related concepts, as mechanism, the principle of sufficient reason, and the aristotelic conception of science. On the other hand, precisely the support which these related concepts provided to scientific determinism, together with its mathematical nature, endowed it with an incredible resistance against empirical classification. -/- In the following three chapters I analyze the historic-philosophical development of scientific determinism along the three parameter of my measurement system. -/- In the third Chapter I reconstruct the weakening of scientific determinism with respect to its depth: the starting point is the question about the extent in which the deterministic mathematical descriptions do refer. In the development of mechanics into analytical mechanics the more and more formal character of its mathematical descriptions became evident and it became less obvious that these formal, deterministic structures also have an immediate material truth. Parallel developments within epistemology, starting with Kantian philosophy (which I deal with quite in detail), let the deterministic structures (principle, laws, equations, causal relations) appear less absolute and real and more as a product of reason, as conventions, or as models. A brief consideration of the interpretation of mechanics and its principles by Jacobi, Hertz, Mach and Poincaré shows the implications of these developments. -/- The fourth chapter reconstructs the weakening of scientific determinism with respect to the strength of the determining link: here my work deepens the track which has been opened by Ian Hacking, who interpreted the so-called “probabilistic revolution” in the 19th Century as the main reason for the erosion of determinism. The increasing pervasiveness of statistical methods in the social and natural sciences in the course of the 19th Century gave rise to a conception of scientific laws which could dispense with strict determinism. A new, empirical interpretation of probability (Frequentism) and the statistical explanation of thermodynamic phenomena in physics even suggested chance phenomena to be a necessary condition for the emergence of natural laws. -/- The last part of my work (Ch. 5, 6 and 7) considers the period (2nd half of the 19th century until ca. 1920) in which the concept of scientific determinism became explicit and was discussed as a world-picture or a world-view – that is, in its maximal breadth. I argue that there were two main reasons for the emergence of an explicit and ideological opposition “determinism vs. indeterminism” at that time: the first was the successful application of the deterministic paradigm to sociology, history, physiology and psychology in the course of the 19th Century, which provided scientific determinism with ethical implications (in particular with respect to the problem of free will, which scientific determinism seemed to deny). The second, related reason is that in the 19th Century natural scientists became public men, science was increasingly popularized and scientific issues were increasingly related to life-issues, to worldview-questions, and even to politics. In Chapter 6 I reconstruct the debates on the issue “determinism vs. indeterminism” in such a public, ideological and sometimes even political context. Among the discussants were Fechner, Du Bois-Reymond, Helmholtz, Bernard, Ostwald, Haeckel, Boussinesq, Maxwell, Boutroux, Poincaré, Renouvier, James und Peirce. Also in Vienna the debate on the issue of determinism was fervid and took ideological and political connotations: Michael Stöltzner and Deborah Coen have pointed to a particular tradition of “Vienna Indeterminism” (Stöltzner), or Viennese liberal probabilism (Coen), which was characterized by a strongly empirical conception of science and by the full acceptance and appreciation of statistical thinking in science. In the last Chapter of my work I focus on the early philosophy of Edgar Zilsel, a philosopher who stood near to the Vienna Circle and who has been much neglected in the literature by now, and I suggest considering it as part of the “Vienna Indeterminism”. First, I show how he gave an indeterministic foundation both to statistical and causal knowledge as well as to irreversibility in physics. Second, I inquire into his philosophy of probability and show how it developed in parallel to the ones of Hans Reichenbach and Richard von Mises. Finally, Zilsel happens to be a further, relevant case-study for pointing to the ideological and political side of the issue of determinism. -/- At the end of this reconstruction it should have become clear how no physical theory, no empirical evidence and no experimental confirmation can support or contradict scientific determinism in its non-trivial formulations. The validity of any such formulation depends strongly not only (from the systematical point of view) from the definition of other concepts (like time, physical state, causality etc.), but also from the particular conception of science which more or less implicitly constitutes its background, and which is subjected to historical change. -/- (ISBN: 9783495491034). (shrink)
This book provides a new all-round perspective on the life and work of Edgar Zilsel (1891-1944) as a philosopher, historian, and sociologist. He was close to the Vienna Circle and has been hitherto almost exclusively referred to in terms of the so-called “Zilsel thesis” on the origins of modern science. Much beyond this “thesis”, Zilsel’s brilliant work provides original insights on a broad number of topics, ranging from the philosophy of probability and statistics to the concept of “genius”, from the (...) issues of scientific laws and theories to the sociological background of science and philosophy, and to the political analysis of the problems of his time. Praised by Herbert Feigl as an “outstanding brilliant mind”, Zilsel, being as a Social-Democrat of Jewish origins, mostly led a life of hardship marked by emigration and coming to a sudden and tragic end by suicide in 1944. The impossibility of an academic career has hindered the reception of Zilsel’s scientific work for a long time. This volume is a contribution to its late reception, providing new insights especially into his work during his years in Vienna; moreover, it shows the heuristic value of Zilsel’s ideas for future Scholar research – in philosophy, history, and sociology. -/- (ISSN: 0929-6328). (shrink)
In this volume I offer a compact history of the concepts of probability and statistics as well as a review of the most relevant interpretations of these notions. In the second part of the volume I explore the meaning of probability, statistics and their interpretations with respect to the developement of physical theories - from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics. -/- (ISBN: 978-8889891322).
In this paper, I reconstruct the development and the complex character of Zilsel’s conception of scientific laws. This concept functions as a fil rouge for understanding Zilsel’s philosophy throughout different times (here, the focus is on his Viennese writings and how they pave the way to the more renown American ones) and across his many fields of work (from physics to politics). A good decade before Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was going to mark the outbreak of indeterminism in quantum physics, Edgar (...) Zilsel started to develop a complex logical-philosophical theory in which statistical and causal laws were given an indeterministic foundation (Zilsel 1916). However, in developing his thoughts on the emergence of regularities from disorder, Zilsel arrives at a profound ambiguity with respect to the ontological or the epistemic nature of laws and order in the world: Whether this order is to be conceived of as an empirical finding or as the product of reason – this would have to remain unclear. This tension between rationalism and empiricism, as well as a tension between a realist and an anti-realist conception of lawfulness, can be identified in both Zilsel’s Viennese and American writings: a tension which touches the core of the “application problem” that would keep haunting Zilsel until his premature death. (shrink)