Carnap’s epistemological critique of metaphysics

Synthese 195 (5):2247-2265 (2018)
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Abstract

Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives the rejection of verificationism. The root of his argument is the claim that metaphysical statements cannot be justified; the point is epistemic, not semantic. I will argue that this remains a powerful challenge to metaphysics that has yet to be adequately answered.

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Darren Bradley
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Armchair Philosophy Naturalized.Sebastian Lutz - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1099-1125.
Old problems for neo-positivist naturalized metaphysics.Rasmus Jaksland - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-19.
Relevance and Verification.Ben Blumson - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):457-480.

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References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.

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