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Scott Edgar
Saint Mary's University
  1. Hermann Cohen’s Principle of the Infinitesimal Method: A Defense.Scott Edgar - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
    In Bertrand Russell's 1903 Principles of Mathematics, he offers an apparently devastating criticism of the neo-Kantian Hermann Cohen's Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its History (PIM). Russell's criticism is motivated by his concern that Cohen's account of the foundations of calculus saddles mathematics with the paradoxes of the infinitesimal and continuum, and thus threatens the very idea of mathematical truth. This paper defends Cohen against that objection of Russell's, and argues that properly understood, Cohen's views of limits and infinitesimals (...)
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  2. The Physiology of the Sense Organs and Early Neo-Kantian Conceptions of Objectivity: Helmholtz, Lange, Liebmann.Scott Edgar - 2015 - In Flavia Padovani, Alan Richardson & Jonathan Y. Tsou (eds.), Objectivity in Science: Approaches to Historical Epistemology. Boston Studies in Philosophy and History of Science. Springer.
    The physiologist Johannes Müller’s doctrine of specific nerve energies had a decisive influence on neo-Kantian conceptions of the objectivity of knowledge in the 1850s - 1870s. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Müller amassed a body of experimental evidence to support his doctrine, according to which the character of our sensations is determined by the structures of our own sensory nerves, and not by the external objects that cause the sensations. Neo-Kantians such as Hermann von Helmholtz, F.A. Lange, (...)
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  3. Intersubjectivity and Physical Laws in Post-Kantian Theory of Knowledge: Natorp and Cassirer.Scott Edgar - 2015 - In Sebastian Luft & J. Tyler Friedman (eds.), The Philosophy of Ernst Cassirer: A Novel Assessment. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 141-162.
    Consider the claims that representations of physical laws are intersubjective, and that they ultimately provide the foundation for all other intersubjective knowledge. Those claims, as well as the deeper philosophical commitments that justify them, constitute rare points of agreement between the Marburg School neo-Kantians Paul Natorp and Ernst Cassirer and their positivist rival, Ernst Mach. This is surprising, since Natorp and Cassirer are both often at pains to distinguish their theories of natural scientific knowledge from positivist views like Mach’s, and (...)
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  4.  64
    Völkerpsychologie and the Origins of Hermann Cohen’s Antipsychologism.Scott Edgar - 2020 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 10 (1):254-273.
    Some commentators on Hermann Cohen have remarked on what they take to be a puzzle about the origins of his mature anti-psychologism. When Cohen was young, he studied a kind of psychology, the Völkerpsychologie of Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal, and wrote apparently psycholgistic accounts of knowledge almost up until the moment he first articulated his anti-psychologistic neo-Kantianism. To be sure, Cohen's mature anti psycholgism does constitute a rejection of certain central commitments of Völkerpsychologie. However, the relation between Völkerpsychologie and (...)
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  5. Logical Empiricism, Politics, and Professionalism.Scott Edgar - 2009 - Science & Education 18 (2):177-189.
    This paper considers George A. Reisch’s account of the role of Cold War political forces in shaping the apolitical stance that came to dominate philosophy of science in the late 1940s and 1950s. It argues that at least as early as the 1930s, Logical Empiricists such as Rudolf Carnap already held that philosophy of science could not properly have political aims, and further suggests that political forces alone cannot explain this view’s rise to dominance during the Cold War, since political (...)
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  6. Volume Introduction – Method, Science and Mathematics: Neo-Kantianism and Analytic Philosophy.Scott Edgar - 2018 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 6 (3):1-10.
    Introduction to the Special Volume, “Method, Science and Mathematics: Neo-Kantianism and Analytic Philosophy,” edited by Scott Edgar and Lydia Patton. At its core, analytic philosophy concerns urgent questions about philosophy’s relation to the formal and empirical sciences, questions about philosophy’s relation to psychology and the social sciences, and ultimately questions about philosophy’s place in a broader cultural landscape. This picture of analytic philosophy shapes this collection’s focus on the history of the philosophy of mathematics, physics, and psychology. The following essays (...)
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  7.  21
    Review of Christian Damböck, Deutscher Empirismus: Studien Zur Philosophie Im Deutschsprachigen Raum 1830-1930. [REVIEW]Scott Edgar - 2020 - In The Vienna Circle in Czechoslovakia, Vienna Circle Yearbook. Cham: pp. 185-190.
  8. The Explanatory Structure of the Transcendental Deduction and a Cognitive Interpretation of the First Critique.Scott Edgar - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):285-314.
    Consider two competing interpretations of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: the epistemic and cognitive interpretations. The epistemic interpretation presents the first Critique as a work of epistemology, but what is more, it sees Kant as an early proponent of anti-psychologism—the view that descriptions of how the mind works are irrelevant for epistemology.2 Even if Kant does not always manage to purge certain psychological-sounding idioms from his writing, the epistemic interpretation has it, he is perfectly clear that he means his evaluation (...)
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  9.  6
    Christian Damböck, Deutscher Empirismus. [REVIEW]Scott Edgar - 2020 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 23:185-190.
    Recently, a small but growing literature has started to fill the gap in our understanding of mid and late nineteenth-century German philosophy. But entrenched historiographical narratives suggest nothing much of interest happened in German-language philosophy after Hegel and before Nietzsche and Frege. So why should philosophers care about that period? Christian Damböck’s Deutscher Empirismus: Studien zur Philosophie im deutschsprachigen Raum 1830–1930 presents an argument for an unambiguous answer to that question, and one that matters for contemporary analytic philosophy. Naturalism in (...)
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  10.  91
    Paul Natorp and the Emergence of Anti-Psychologism in the Nineteenth Century.Scott Edgar - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):54-65.
    This paper examines the anti-psychologism of Paul Natorp, a Marburg School Neo-Kantian. It identifies both Natorp’s principle argument against psychologism and the views underlying the argument that give it its force. Natorp’s argument depends for its success on his view that certain scientific laws constitute the intersubjective content of knowledge. That view in turn depends on Natorp’s conception of subjectivity, so it is only against the background of his conception of subjectivity that his reasons for rejecting psychologism make sense. This (...)
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  11.  82
    The Limits of Experience and Explanation: F. A. Lange and Ernst Mach on Things in Themselves.Scott Edgar - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (1):100-121.
    In the middle of the nineteenth century, advances in experimental psychology and the physiology of the sense organs inspired so-called "Back to Kant" Neo-Kantians to articulate robustly psychologistic visions of Kantian epistemology. But their accounts of the thing in itself were fraught with deep tension: they wanted to conceive of things in themselves as the causes of our sensations, while their own accounts of causal inference ruled that claim out. This paper diagnoses the source of that problem in views of (...)
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  12.  65
    Hermann Cohen.Scott Edgar - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  13. Hermann Cohen.Scott Edgar - 2010 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Hermann Cohen (b. 1842, d. 1919), more than any other single figure, is responsible for founding the orthodox neo-Kantianism that dominated academic philosophy in Germany from the 1870s until the end of the First World War. Earlier German philosophers finding inspiration in Kant tended either towards speculative, metaphysical idealism, or sought to address philosophical questions with the resources of the empirical sciences, especially psychology. In contrast, Cohen’s seminal interpretation of Kant offered a vision of philosophy that decisively maintained its independence (...)
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  14.  1
    The Physiology of the Sense Organs and Early Neo-Kantian Conceptions of Objectivity.Scott Edgar - 2015 - In Flavia Padovani, Alan Richardson & Jonathan Y. Tsou (eds.), Objectivity in Science. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 101-122.
  15.  23
    The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism: 1796–1880. [REVIEW]Scott Edgar - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (5):1009-1012.
  16.  5
    Anti-Psychologism, Objectivity, and the Marburg School Neo-Kantians.Scott Edgar - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
    In the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), Kant sought to explain the objectivity of cognition by describing the operation of certain human cognitive activities. That is, in some sense Kant explained cognition's objectivity by appealing to features of the mind. A century later, the Marburg School Neo-Kantians Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp would insist that philosophers must explain cognition's objectivity without appeal to the subject's mind. Once at the center of the Kantian account of objectivity, the mind had been expunged (...)
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