Rudolf Carnap is increasingly regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. He was one of the leading figures of the logical empiricist movement associated with the Vienna Circle and a central figure in the analytic tradition more generally. He made major contributions to philosophy of science and philosophy of logic, and, perhaps most importantly, to our understanding of the nature of philosophy as a discipline. In this volume a team of contributors explores the major themes (...) of his philosophy and discusses his relationship with the Vienna Circle and with philosophers such as Frege, Husserl, Russell, and Quine. New readers will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Carnap currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Carnap. (shrink)
This paper considers various objections to Carnap’s logical syntax definition of ’logical expression’, including those by Saunders Mac Lane and W. V. O. Quine. While the specific objections of these two authors can be answered, if necessary by a slight modification of Carnap’s definition, there are other objections that I do not see how to meet. I also consider the proposal by Denis Bonnay for avoiding the objections to Carnap’s definition. In light of the unresolved problems with Carnap’s definition, I (...) go on to consider what Carnap’s assumptions must have been in framing his definition and to assess how much damage is caused by this failure of Carnap’s definition. This damage is not as much as might be assumed. (shrink)
This paper is a reexamination of Two Dogmas in the light of Quine's ongoing debate with Carnap over analyticity. It shows, first, that analytic is a technical term within Carnap's epistemology. As such it is intelligible, and Carnap's position can meet Quine's objections. Second, it shows that the core of Quine's objection is that he has an alternative epistemology to advance, one which appears to make no room for analyticity. Finally, the paper shows that Quine's alternative epistemology is itself open (...) to very serious objections. Quine is not thereby refuted, but neither can Carnap's analyticity be dismissed as dogma. (shrink)
Quine rejects Peirce's theory of truth because, among other things, its notion of a limit of a sequence of theories is defective in that the notion of a limit depends on that of nearer than which is defined for numbers but not for theories. This paper shows that the missing definition of nearer than applied to theories can be supplied from within Quine's own epistemology. The upshot is that either Quine's epistemology must be rejected or Peirce's pragmatic theory of truth (...) is partially vindicated. (shrink)
This paper defends scientific realism, the doctrine that we should interpret theories as being just as ontologically committing as beliefs at the observational level. I examine the character of observation to show that the difference in interpretation suggested by anti-realists is unwarranted. Second, I discuss Wilfrid Sellars'' approach to the issue. Finally, I provide a detailed study of recent work by Bas van Fraassen. While van Fraassen''s work is the focus of the paper, the conclusions are far broader: That a (...) wide family of anti-realist views (of which van Fraassen''s is only one) is problematic and unmotivated and hence to be rejected. (shrink)
Philosophers often divide Carnap's work into syntactic, semantic, and later periods, but this disguises the importance of his early syntactical writing. In Logical Syntax Carnap is a thoroughgoing conventionalist and pragmatist. Once we see that, it is easier to see as well that these views were retained throughout the rest of his life, that the breaks between periods are not as important as the continuities, and that our understanding of such Carnapian notions as analyticity and probability needs reevaluation.
In 'the methodological character of theoretical concepts' carnap offered a sophisticated criterion of empirical significance. Unfortunately, Shortly thereafter david kaplan devised a pair of devastating counter-Examples which appeared to show that carnap's criterion was simultaneously too wide and too narrow. In this note I show that kaplan's first counter-Example misses its mark and that his second counter-Example can be avoided by a natural generalization of carnap's method.
In 1931 Walter Sellar and Robert Yeatman published a delightfully silly history of England entitled 1066 and All That 2, as they said, “comprising, all the parts you can remember including one hundred and three good things, five bad kings, and two genuine dates”.3 History, they tell us, is not what you think; it is what you can remember. So their history is simplified and garbled, and the moral point is put front and center: every development is described as a (...) good thing or a bad thing, a good king or a bad king. What makes 1066... comic is the cleverness of its insight into what confusions people actually have and the antic candor in giving us the moral point without wasting any time on dates, motivations, or any other such confusing historical details. (shrink)
It is widely believed that empiricism, though once dominant, is now extinct. This turns out to be mistaken because of incorrect assumption about the initial dominance of logical empiricism and about the content and variety of logical empiricist views. In fact, prominent contemporary philosophers (Quine and Kuhn) who are thought to have demolished logical empiricism are shown to exhibit central views of the logical empiricists rather than having overthrown them.
This set of original essays by some of the best names in philosophy of science explores a range of diverse issues in the intersection of biology and epistemology. It asks whether the study of life requires a special biological approach to knowledge and concludes that it does not. The studies, taken together, help to develop and deepen our understanding of how biology works and what counts as warranted knowledge and as legitimate approaches to the study of life. The first section (...) deals with the nature of evidence and evolutionary theory as it came to dominate nineteenth-century philosophy of science; the second and third parts deal with the impact of laboratory and experimental research. This is an impressive team of authors, bringing together some of the most distinguished philosophers of science today. The volume will interest professionals and graduate students in biology and the history and philosophy of science. (shrink)
To assess van Fraassen's anti-realism, I examine observation and its relation to judging. I argue that the boundary of observability is determined pragmatically, because observing depends on the context of inquiry and because the 'able' in 'observable' implicitly involves human interests and concerns. Thus, observability is like van Fraassen's notions of simplicity and explanation. While a non-pragmatic notion of observability can be devised, then virtually any event is potentially observable. Consequently, van Fraassen's attempt to divide empirical adequacy from the pragmatic (...) features of theories loses much of its plausibility, and his anti-realism loses a potential motivation. Indeed, his anti-realism begins to look rather arbitrary. (shrink)
Quine does not like counterfactuals. He thinks them unclear, and so he eschews them. It is enough, he thinks, for science to say of what it is that it is and that it is all that is. There is no need to say of what is not that it is not, or even worse, to say of what is not what it would be if ...
It is argued that Carnap was not a complete verificationist in the Aufbau despite the widespread view that he was. That doctrine would be intrinsic to constructionalism only if either of two additional assumptions are made, and there is no reason to believe that Carnap made these assumptions. Further, in the Aufbau Carnap did not demand verifiability independently of constructionalism, and his clear rejection of verifiability in Pseudoproblems counts heavily against his ever having accepted it in the Aufbau.
We live in a metaphysical age. And I do not mean just that too many people still believe The Prophecies of Nostradamus and/or the horoscopes found in most local newspapers. It is a metaphysical age among philosophers – even among those who shun horoscopes and are frankly embarrassed to fi nd Nostradamus so prominently displayed in the metaphysics section of their campus bookstore. Nowadays, distinguished philosophers in prestigious departments proudly call themselves metaphysicians. They all know, of course, that Carnap and (...) his Viennese friends campaigned in the late twenties and early thirties against metaphysics. (shrink)
The case often made by scientists (and philosophers) against history and the history of science in particular is clear. Insofar as a field of study is historical as opposed to law-based, it is trivial. Insofar as a field attends to the past of science as opposed to current scientific issues, its efforts are derivative and, by diverting attention from acquiring new knowledge, deplorable. This case would be devastating if true, but it has almost everything almost exactly wrong. The study of (...) history and the study of laws are not mutually exclusive, but unavoidably linked. Neither can be pursued without the other. Much the same can be said of the history of science. The history of science is neither a distraction from "real" science nor even merely a help to science. Rather, the history of science is an essential part of each science. Seeing that this is so requires a broader understanding of both history and science. (shrink)
Recent essays by Michael Friedman1 and William Demopoulos2 on Carnap’s late approach to analyticity in the theoretical language make a convincing case for the continuing philosophic interest of this part of Carnap’s work. The present essay is intended not to disagree with any of these essays but to raise a logically prior worry as to whether Carnap’s account of analyticity here is well motivated and consistent with other attractive aspects of his view. To do this I outline, in §1, Frank (...) Ramsey’s approach to theories and the so-called Ramsey sentence. This will allow us to trace the steps by which Carnap came to use the Ramsey sentence in developing an account of analyticity for the theoretical language. Then, in §2, I articulate my own uneasiness with what I see as Carnap’s motivation. Finally, in §3, I express my practical reservations about how well Carnap’s approach fits with other aspects of his view. This is not intended as a refutation but rather as a reflection on how we can learn from Carnap and as a reminder of how much more we have to do. (shrink)
With its seventeen papers roughly evenly divided between European and American scholars, Logical Empiricism is a welcome addition to the rapidly growing literature on that movement. It both broadens and deepens our understanding of the logical empiricists themselves. It shows their work often to have been continuous with that of more modern figures. And it explores from a variety of perspectives the connections both between science and philosophy and between the study of historical figures and problems and the ongoing systematic (...) work in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Rudolf Carnap and W. V. Quine, two of the twentieth century's most important philosophers, corresponded at length—and over a long period of time—on matters personal, professional, and philosophical. Their friendship encompassed issues and disagreements that go to the heart of contemporary philosophic discussions. Carnap was a founder and leader of the logical positivist school. The younger Quine began as his staunch admirer but diverged from him increasingly over questions in the analysis of meaning and the justification of belief. That they (...) remained close, relishing their differences through years of correspondence, shows their stature both as thinkers and as friends. The letters are presented here, in full, for the first time. The substantial introduction by Richard Creath offers a lively overview of Carnap's and Quine's careers and backgrounds, allowing the nonspecialist to see their writings in historical and intellectual perspective. Creath also provides a judicious analysis of the philosophical divide between them, showing how deep the issues cut into the discipline, and how to a large extent they remain unresolved. (shrink)