An international team of four authors, led by distinguished philosopher of science, Nancy Cartwright, and leading scholar of the Vienna Circle, Thomas E. Uebel, have produced this lucid and elegant study of a much-neglected figure. The book, which depicts Neurath's science in the political, economic and intellectual milieu in which it was practised, is divided into three sections: Neurath's biographical background and the socio-political context of his economic ideas; the development of his theory of science; and his legacy (...) as illustrated by his contemporaneous involvement in academic and political debates. Coinciding with the renewal of interest in logical positivism, this is a timely publication which will redress a current imbalance in the history and philosophy of science, as well as making a major contribution to our understanding of the intellectual life of Austro-Germany in the inter-war years. (shrink)
Linguistics and the Vienna Circle Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9445-9 Authors ThomasUebel, Department of Philosophy, School of Social Science, University of Manchester, Arthur Lewis Building, Manchester, M13 9PL UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
[ Alan W. Richardson] This essay explores the uses that Michael Friedman and Bas van Fraassen have recently made of the work of Hans Reichenbach. It uses Friedman's work to complicate van Fraassen's invocation of Reichenbach's voluntarism in support of empiricism. It uses van Fraassen's work to motivate a concern with Friedman's neo-Kantian reading of Reichenbach. We are, finally, left with questions about the status and content of the account of the epistemic subject available to an epistemological voluntarist. /// [ (...) class='Hi'>Thomas E. Uebel] This response considers the question whether empiricists are condemned to silence about the epistemic agency their theories attribute or presuppose. It is argued that, unlike Reichenbach or Carnap, Neurath allowed for and indeed provided specifications of the role of epistemic agency in scientific inquiry. If this is correct, it underscores once more the need to distinguish between the various strands of logical positivism which show different strengths and weaknesses. (shrink)
This paper offers a refutation of J. C. Pinto de Oliveira's recent critique of revisionist Carnap scholarship as giving undue weight to two brief letters to Kuhn expressing his interest in the latter's work. First an argument is provided to show that Carnap and Kuhn are by no means divided by a radical mismatch of their conceptions of the rationality of science as supposedly evidenced by their stance towards the distinction of the contexts of discovery and justification. This is followed (...) by an argument to the effect that the fact that Carnap's own work concentrated on formal aspects of scientific theories does not licence the conclusion that he thought historical investigations and concerns irrelevant for what we nowadays would rightly call "philosophy of science". (shrink)
The Vienna Circle’s debate about the linguistic form and epistemological import of scientific data statements—cor protocol sentence debate —has long been viewed as a prime example of neopositivist folly. Thomas Oberdan’s study is explicitly revisionist: “the lessons that have been drawn from the controversy are of questionable value since they are founded on shallow conceptions of the opinions and viewpoints that figured decisively in the ensuing clash.” Rightly deploring this fact “since many of the issues addressed [in that debate] (...) appear at the forefront of philosophical discussions today” , Oberdan provides an analysis of the PSD that succeeds in bringing alive issues of lasting interest. (shrink)
Four distinguished authors have been brought together to produce this elegant study of a much-neglected figure. The book is divided into three sections: Neurath's biographical background and the economic and social context of his ideas; his theory of science; and the development of his role in debates on Marxist concepts of history and his own conception of science. Coinciding with the emerging serious interest in logical positivism, this timely publication will redress a current imbalance in the history and philosophy of (...) science. (shrink)
If there is a movement or school that epitomizes analytic philosophy in the middle of the twentieth century, it is logical empiricism. Logical empiricists created a scientifically and technically informed philosophy of science, established mathematical logic as a topic in and tool for philosophy, and initiated the project of formal semantics. Accounts of analytic philosophy written in the middle of the twentieth century gave logical empiricism a central place in the project. The second wave of interpretative accounts was constructed to (...) show how philosophy should progress, or had progressed, beyond logical empiricism. The essays survey the formative stages of logical empiricism in central Europe and its acculturation in North America, discussing its main topics, and achievements and failures, in different areas of philosophy of science, and assessing its influence on philosophy, past, present, and future. (shrink)
This paper considers the charge that—contrary to the current widespread assumption accompanying the near-universal neglect of his work—Wilhelm Jerusalem (1854–1923) cannot count as one of the founders of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. In order to elucidate the matter, Jerusalem’s “sociology of cognition” is here reconstructed in the context of his own work in psychology and philosophy as well as in the context of the work of some predecessors and contemporaries. It is argued that while it shows clear discontinuities with (...) the present-day understanding of the sociology of (scientific) knowledge, Jerusalem’s sociology of cognition was not only distinctive in its own day but also anticipated in nuce a much-discussed theme in current history of science. (shrink)
This paper concerns the issue of whether the so-called left wing of the Vienna Circle (Carnap, Neurath, Frank) can be understood as having provided the blueprint for a bipartite metatheory with a formal-logical part (the “logic of science”) supporting and being supported by a naturalistic-empirical part (the “behavioristics of science”). A claim to this effect was recently met by a counterclaim that there was indeed an attempt made to broaden Carnap’s formalist conception of philosophy by the pragmatist Morris, but that (...) this initiative failed and that Carnap showed no interest in it. To defend the original claim this paper provides an analysis of Carnap and Morris on the subject matter of pragmatics in order to show that and how Carnap adopted Morris’s proposals in so far as they agreed with bipartite metatheory conception. (shrink)
Considerable unclarity exists in the literature concerning the origin and authorship of Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis, the Vienna Circle’s manifesto of 1929 and on the extent of and the reasons for the mixed reception it received in the Circle itself. This paper reconsiders these matters on the light of so far insufªciently consulted documents.
: Considerable unclarity exists in the literature concerning the origin and authorship of Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis, the Vienna Circle's manifesto of 1929 and on the extent of and the reasons for the mixed reception it received in the Circle itself. This paper reconsiders these matters on the light of so far insufficiently consulted documents.
Logical Empiricism is commonly regarded as uninterested in, if not hostile to sociological investigations of science. This paper reconstructs the views of Otto Neurath and Philipp Frank on the legitimacy and relevance of sociological investigations of theory choice. It is argued that while there obtains a surprising degree of convergence between their programmatic pronouncements and the Strong Programme, the two types of project nevertheless remain distinct. The key to this differences lies in the different assessment of a supposed dilemma facing (...) post-Mertonian sociologists of science. (shrink)
I examine the thesis that Otto Neurath anticipated the programme of naturalised epistemology already at the time of the Vienna Circle and consider the relation between Neurath's proposals and those of two contemporary theorists whose research programmes he would thus have broadly anticipated. The thesis is confirmed by reference to Neurath's own writings. The connection between Neurath's programme and the programmes of his two successors considered here, however, is found to be highly indirect in one case and nonexistent in the (...) other — despite their undeniable overlap. (shrink)
Do the terms “logical positivism” and “logical empiricism” mark a philosophically real and significant distinction? There is, of course, no doubt that the first term designates the group of philosophers known as the Vienna Circle, headed by Moritz Schlick and including Rudolf Carnap, Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Hans Hahn, Otto Neurath, Friedrich Waismann and others. What is debatable, however, is whether the name “logical positivism” correctly distinguishes their doctrines from related ones called “logical empiricism” that emerged from the Berlin Society (...) for Scientific Philosophy around Hans Reichenbach which included Walter Dubislav, Kurt Grelling, Kurt Lewin and a young Carl Gustav Hempel.1 The .. (shrink)
This article discusses an epistemological problem faced by causal explanations of action and a proposed solution. The problem is to justify why one particular reason rather than another is specified as causally efficacious. It is argued that the problem arises independently of one’s preferred conception of singular causal claims, psychological and psychophysical generalizations, and our folk-psychological competence. The proposed fallibilist solution involves the supplementation of the reason given by narratives that contextualize it and provide additional criteria for justifying the causal (...) claim. It is argued that narratives have a distinctive structure that can afford the justification of causal attributions without sui generis powers of narrative explanation having to be invoked. (shrink)
The tendency to attribute foundationalist ambitions to the Vienna Circle has long obscured our view of its attempted revolution in philosophy. The present paper makes the case for a consistently epistemologically anti-foundationalist interpretation of all three of the Circle's main protagonists: Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath. Corresponding to the intellectual fault lines within the Circle, two ways of going about the radical reorientation of the pursuit of philosophy will then be distinguished and the contemporary potential of Carnap's and Neurath's project explored.
This article considers the development of Philipp Frank’s opposition to metaphysics in the light of the contention that there also was a long-standing pragmatic strand to the theorizing about science in the Vienna Circle. It is argued that the later Frank did not only distinguish metaphysical statements from those deemed simply cognitively meaningless by a substantive criterion but that in order to identify the latter he also sought to employ a practical rather than a formal criterion with which he and (...) Neurath had long been acquainted. (shrink)
Neurath's proposal for the form of protocol statements explicates the multiple embedding of a singular sentence as specifying different conditions for the acceptance of such a sentence as a bona fide scientific datum. Before theories are accepted or rejected in the light of such evidence, however, a further condition must be met which Neurath did not formalize. The different conditions are discussed and shown to constitute a naturalistic theory of scientific data and a pragmatic theory of theory acceptance.
This paper rejects as unfounded a recent criticism of research on the so-called left wing of the Vienna Circle and the claim that it sported a political philosophy of science. The demand for ‘specific, local periodized claims’ is turned against the critic. It is shown (i) that certain criticisms of Red Vienna’s leading party cannot be transferred to the members of the Circle involved in popular education, nor can criticism of Carnap’s Aufbau be transferred to Neurath’s unified science project; (ii) (...) that neither with regard to Carnap nor to Neurath does the criticism raise points that either engage with the thesis proposed or stand up to closer scrutiny; (iii) that the main thesis attacked is just what I had warned the claim that the Vienna Circle had a political philosophy of science should not be understood as. The question whether theirs is ‘political enough’ today can and should be discussed without distortion of the historical record. (shrink)
Is logical empiricism incompatible with a critical social science? The longstanding assumption that it is incompatible has been prominent in recent debates about welfare economics. Sen’s development of a critical and descriptively rich welfare eco nomics is taken by writers such as Putnam, Walsh and Sen to involve the excising of the influence of logical empiricism on neo-classical economics. However, this view stands in contrast to the descriptively rich contributions to political economy of members of the left Vienna Circle, such (...) as Otto Neurath. This paper considers the compatibility of the meta-theoretical commitments of Neurath and others in the logical empiricist tradition with this first-order critical political economy. (shrink)
Hans Hahn's long-neglected philosophy of mathematics is reconstructed here with an eye to his anticipation of the doctrine of logical pluralism. After establishing that Hahn pioneered a post-Tractarian conception of tautologies and attempted to overcome the traditional foundational dispute in mathematics, Hahn's and Carnap's work is briefly compared with Karl Menger's, and several significant agreements or differences between Hahn's and Carnap's work are specified and discussed.
ABSTRACT Arne Naess once called himself ?a kind of metaphysician?: did or did he not therewith turn his back on his philosophical mentors in the Vienna Circle? To try to determine the meaning of this self-ascription, this paper first considers in detail two works in which his disagreements with the philosophers of the Vienna Circle found their clearest and most detailed expression. Concentrating on Carnap it will be argued that while some of Naess's criticisms cannot be taken as authoritative, he (...) did indicate a clear dividing line between himself and Carnap. Turning then to Naess's valediction to philosophy of science from 1972, Naess's appreciation of the role of metaphysics for science will be discussed and compared with his appreciation for the role of metaphysics for personal and political life as expressed in his still later ecophilosophy. Once allowance is made for the different needs addressed by his writings for the deep ecology movement and a certain 1960s' rhetoric is discounted as no longer appropriate, it can be seen that Naess's theoretical philosophy exhibited a remarkable continuity throughout. (shrink)
Carnap’s lectures at the 1935 Paris Congress for the Unity of Science marked the beginning of his mature metaphilosophy. This paper considers what role remained for epistemology once it was “purified” of all psychological elements as Carnap there demanded. It is argued that while this did mean the end of traditional epistemology, room was found for nontraditional versions in the course of the further development of Carnap’s logic of science.
Faced with anti-foundationalist revisionism on part of recent Vienna Circle scholarship, veterans of the struggle against the so-called dogmas of logical empiricism could be forgiven were they to fail to recognize their old adversaries. Clearly everything depends on how the logical empiricists are read: their record does not speak for itself. That already in their day the logical empiricists faced the declaredly friendly fire that nearly sealed their fate suggests, however, that the reconstructive explication and contextualization required be exceedingly subtle. (...) For if that fire really missed its target, then what was missed was something that escaped notice from close quarter. Perhaps no one of the logical empiricists places more challenging demands of this sort on their historiographers than the longest-surviving senior member of the Vienna Circle, Rudolf Carnap. (shrink)
Is there anything new that can be learnt about Carnap and his philosophy from recent findings about Carnap’s participation in the production of the Circle’s inofficial manifesto of 1929, Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis ? “More than one might think”, is my answer. To be sure, what there is to be learnt is not something radically new, but that is still enough to make a difference in an ongoing dispute over whether Carnap’s philosophy was of a purely academic nature. What (...) there is to be learnt is enough to contradict the quite common picture of Carnap as quietist.1 Instead, Carnap emerges as an activist and his philosophy as part of his activism. Accordingly, the thesis to be defended here is that throughout his life, though perhaps most strongly so during his Vienna Circle period, Carnap intended his philosophy to make a difference to everyday life: it was to be political in the broadest sense. (shrink)