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Origins of Logical Empiricism

Volume: 16
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    Origins of Logical Empiricism
    Book Description:

    This latest volume in the eminent Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science series examines the main features of the intellectual milieu from which logical empiricism sprang, providing the first critical exploration of this context by authors within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of philosophy. Contributors: Nancy Cartwright, Jordi Cat; Richard Creath, Michael Friedman, Peter Galison, Warren Goldfarb, Don Howard, Thomas Oberdan, Thomas Ricketts, Thomas Ryckman, Joia Lewis Turner, and Thomas E. Uebel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8756-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ronald N. Giere
  4. Introduction: Origins of Logical Empiricism
    (pp. 1-14)
    Alan W. Richardson

    This volume grew out of a workshop on the origins of logical empiricism held in October 1993 under the auspices of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota. This workshop was dedicated to the idea that the ongoing reappraisal of logical empiricism is an endeavor worthy of being broadened and deepened.¹ Thus, a number of leading workers in the history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of science, logic, and science were brought together to share their perspectives and concerns. This volume, therefore, presents something of the state of the art of thought on the origins of...


    • Constructing Modernism: The Cultural Location of Aufbau
      (pp. 17-44)
      Peter Galison

      Between the end of World War I and the immediate post-World War II period, almost a hundred journals and multiauthored volumes appeared in the German-speaking world with the wordAufbauin their titles. Practically none existed before the end of World War I, and only a handful remained after 1947. Put into a histogram, the journalsl fal into three spikes: the largest burst between 1919 and 1927, a middle peak between 1934 and 1937, and a final surge between 1945 and 1947.

      These three extraordinary spikes, and the absence of any equivalent spike before 1918 or after the late 1940s,...

    • Overcoming Metaphysics: Carnap and Heidegger
      (pp. 45-79)
      Michael Friedman

      It is well known that Rudolf Carnap (in Carnap 1932e) uses examples from Martin Heidegger as illustrations of metaphysical pseudosentences — including, most famously, the sentence “Nothingness itself nothings [Das Nichts selbst nichtet]” (Heidegger 1929b). It is tempting today for those on both sides — for those who sympathize with Carnap and those who sympathize with Heidegger alike — to view this episode with a more or less tolerant smile. Among those sympathetic to Carnap, Heidegger’s sentence now appears as simply unintelligible, but hardly dangerous, nonsense: one is by no means surprised by such obvious absurdities coming from a fuzzy...

    • Neurath against Method
      (pp. 80-90)
      Nancy Cartwright and Jordi Cat

      There are two central aspects of Carnap’sAufbau. One is the logical construction of science upwards; the second is the assumption that the foundations of the construction can be epistemologically secure, for science can in principle begin with sense-data reports to which the individual knower has privileged access. Neurath entered the protocol-sentence debate with views firmly opposed to both features of Carnap’s construction. He left the debate with a view that is much stronger — a view that loosens the connection between the superstructure as a whole and its foundation. In the end, not only is logical construction ruled out,...

    • The Enlightenment Ambition of Epistemic Utopianism: Otto Neurath’s Theory of Science in Historical Perspective
      (pp. 91-112)
      Thomas E. Uebel

      The systematic analysis of Otto Neurath’s theory of science reveals a thinker who has remained surprisingly topical. After briefly indicating one contemporary relevance of Neurath’s “anti-philosophical” program, I will explore the question of how it was possible for Neurath to develop his postpositivist conception of science in the Vienna Circle, the reputed high church of twentieth-century positivism. Neurath’s originality cannot be accounted for solely by stressing that Vienna Circle philosophy must not be mistaken for the caricature current among many postpositivists. We must also attend to the differentiating characteristics of Neurath’s intellectual development within the newly recovered “real existing” Vienna...


    • Relativity, Eindeutigkeit, and Monomorphism: Rudolf Carnap and the Development of the Categoricity Concept in Formal Semantics
      (pp. 115-164)
      Don Howard

      The following essay treats several topics. In part, it is concerned with a crucial moment in the development of Rudolf Carnap’s constructionist program, which culminated in the publication ofDer logische Aufbau der Welt(Carnap 1928a). This moment is Carnap’s elucidation of the notion of “monomorphic” axiom systems and concepts in his 1927 essay, “Eigentliche und uneigentliche Begriffe” (Carnap 1927), a monomorphic axiom system (and, by extension, a monomorphic concept) being one that determines the class of its possible models up to the point of isomorphism; this is the property of an axiom system that we now standardly designate as...

    • Einstein Agonists: Weyl and Reichenbach on Geometry and the General Theory of Relativity
      (pp. 165-210)
      T.A. Ryckman

      I think it is fair to say that most contemporary readers of Hans Reichenbach’s works on the epistemology of geometry have not considered them in the scientific context of their origin, that is to say, against the background of activity in the small but vigorous community of general relativists in the decade or so after the inception of the general theory of relativity (GTR) in November 1915. Among these activities, perhaps the best known to the history of science are the efforts of W. De Sitter, A. Friedmann, G. Lemaître, and others to work out the cosmological implications, including the...


    • The Philosophy of Mathematics in Early Positivism
      (pp. 213-230)
      Warren Goldfarb

      It is commonly held that the philosophy of logic and foundations of mathematics were of central moment in the development of logical positivism. This common wisdom is, of course, correct. It is also commonly held that there was a single logical-positivist doctrine on the nature of logic and mathematics. Here the common wisdom oversimplifies. For although the major positivist writers were in agreement on the general shape of such a doctrine, differences in their views emerge on closer inspection. A look at the evolution of their views and the differences among them can shed light on the positions at which...

    • Carnap: From Logical Syntax to Semantics
      (pp. 231-250)
      Thomas Ricketts

      In the mid-1930s Carnap enthusiastically adopted Tarski’s technique of truth-definitions to replace purely syntactic treatments of languages in logic. Henceforth, Carnap will develop semantics as the central part of logic to serve the ends previously served by logical syntax. Carnap’s move from syntax to semantics may appear to some contemporary eyes to mark a dramatic change of viewpoint. In agreement with Richard Creath, I shall argue that it does not.¹ Given Carnap’s very generous conception of syntax and the purposes his syntactic investigations of languages serve insideWissenschaftslogik² (the logic of science), the step from syntax to semantics proves to...

    • Languages without Logic
      (pp. 251-266)
      Richard Creath

      In the last few years several philosophers have examined the sense in which Carnap’sThe Logical Syntax of Language(1937 [1934]) (here-after LSL) is really syntax. They have concluded, for the most part, that Carnap’s syntax is really semantics or at least that the difference between what Carnap provides and a full-blown semantics would be infinitesimal were there infinitesimals. Here I want to examine the other half of ‘logical syntax’. The intent is not to discover whether Carnap’s logic is really logic but rather to find out what he means by that notion. More specifically, in the first part of...


    • Postscript to Protocols: Reflections on Empiricism
      (pp. 269-291)
      Thomas Oberdan

      The perennial rivalry between foundationalist and coherentist epistemologies has frequently led philosophers to recall the protocol-sentence controversy in the Vienna Circle as a seminal episode in the development of analytic thought. According to the conventional wisdom current just a few years ago, the dispute arose when the physicalists (including Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, and Carl Hempel) repudiated the Circle’s traditional foundationalist epistemology. Foundationalism, as conceived in the early days of positivism, was based on the idea that, loosely speaking, there is a select class of statements that are noninferentially warranted and that provide, via inferential relations, the epistemic warrant for...

    • Conceptual Knowledge and Intuitive Experience: Schlick’s Dilemma
      (pp. 292-308)
      Joia Lewis Turner

      A number of scholars have recently found it increasingly difficult to locate the so-called received view in the original work of the Vienna Circle philosophers. Honest examinations of the written work of Schlick, Carnap, and Neurath, for example, fail to show unbending allegiance to the picture of triumphantly verified scientific claims standing on unchallenged bits of sense-information, towering over the rubble of discarded metaphysical speculations. I have argued elsewhere (1988, 1989, 1990) that Schlick in particular was not only clearly opposed to what he called the “strict positivism” of Ernst Mach, with its rigid, sensation-driven constraints on scientific theories, but...

    • From Epistemology to the Logic of Science: Carnap’s Philosophy of Empirical Knowledge in the 1930s
      (pp. 309-332)

      This essay takes its title from a paper that Rudolf Carnap gave at the 1935 Paris Congress for the Unity of Science. In that paper Carnap (1936a) invited the participants in the congress to view scientific philosophy as having entered a third stage. The first stage of scientific philosophy was the rejection of metaphysics, “the transition from speculative philosophy to epistemology” (ibid., 36). The second stage was the rejection of the synthetic a priori and the consequent adoption of empiricist epistemology.¹ Of the third stage he had this to say: “The task of our current work appears to me to...


    • From Wissenschaftliche Philosophie to Philosophy of Science
      (pp. 335-354)
      Ronald N. Giere

      Most current research on the origins of logical empiricism deals with developments before 1938. This is appropriate because that year marks the bitter end of scientific philosophy in Europe. With theAnschlussin March 1938, Austria ceased to exist as a separate nation and Czechoslovakia was threatened. There was no place left in the German-speaking world for the scientific philosophers. By the end of 1938, almost everyone who was going to leave had done so.¹ Feigl, who had received his Ph.D. under Schlick in 1927, had already been at the University of Iowa since 1931. Carnap had joined the faculty...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 355-378)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 379-382)
  12. Index of Authors
    (pp. 383-386)
  13. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 387-392)