Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 24 (1):235-242 (2003)

Towards the end of their reign, the logical positivists found themselves in bitter disagreement as to what extent the methods and axioms of the natural sciences can be justified by our abilities to grunt and point. What began as a project to epistemically ground the natural sciences ended as an argument about cavemen. Although such a story might be a good one, the consensus, among the positivists’ rivals and the positivists themselves, seemed to be that ahead lay a difficult road indeed if grunts clarify physics. Understandably, that road would be one not traveled, and so our weary fact-warriors walked off elsewhere, leaving the detritus in their path and the rest of the world to deal with the consequences. And consequences there were. Take the current, popular idea that the natural sciences need not be governed by moral concerns; or if they do, such moral governance only need be justified by appeals to governmental, technological or, happily in this most learned of eras, divine authority. Although we may not be able to connect such popular ideas directly to the positivist program, it is nevertheless no great leap to say that their program was motivated in strong ways by a blind acceptance of the abilities of technological advancement and the triumphant march of the natural sciences.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0093-4240
DOI 10.5840/gfpj200324118
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