This intriguing and ground-breaking book is the first in-depth study of the development of philosophy of science in the United States during the Cold War. It documents the political vitality of logical empiricism and Otto Neurath's Unity of Science Movement when these projects emigrated to the US in the 1930s and follows their de-politicization by a convergence of intellectual, cultural and political forces in the 1950s. Students of logical empiricism and the Vienna Circle treat these as strictly intellectual non-political projects. (...) In fact, the refugee philosophers of science were highly active politically and debated questions about values inside and outside science, as a result of which their philosophy of science was scrutinized politically both from within and without the profession, by such institutions as J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. It will prove absorbing reading to philosophers and historians of science, intellectual historians, and scholars of Cold War studies. (shrink)
In the light of two unpublished letters from Carnap to Kuhn, this essay examines the relationship between Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Carnap's philosophical views. Contrary to the common wisdom that Kuhn's book refuted logical empiricism, it argues that Carnap's views of revolutionary scientific change are rather similar to those detailed by Kuhn. This serves both to explain Carnap's appreciation of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and to suggest that logical empiricism, insofar as that program rested on Carnap's (...) shoulders, was not substantially upstaged by Kuhn's book. (shrink)
I criticize conceptual pluralism, as endorsed recently by John Dupre and Philip Kitcher, for failing to supply strategies for demarcating science from non-science. Using creation-science as a test case, I argue that pluralism blocks arguments that keep creation-science in check and that metaphysical pluralism offers it positive, metaphysical support. Logical empiricism, however, still provides useful resources to reconfigure and manage the problem of creation-science in those practical and political contexts where pluralism will fail.
In the spring of 1937, the University of Chicago Press mailed hundreds of subscription forms for its latest enterprise – a projected series of twenty short monographs by various philosophers and scientists. Together the monographs were to form the first section of the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Included in each mailing was an introductory prospectus which began:Recent years have witnessed a striking growth of interest in the scientific enterprise as a whole and especially in the unity of science. The (...) concern throughout the world for the logic of science, the history of science, and the sociology of science reveals a comprehensive international movement interested in considering science as a whole in terms of the scientific temper itself. A science of science is appearing. The extreme specialization within science demands as its corrective an interest in the scientific edifice in its entirety. This is especially necessary if science is to satisfy its inherent urge for the systematization of its results and methods and if science is to perform adequately its educational role in the modern world. Science is gradually rousing itself for the performance of its total task. (shrink)
This article is about Otto Neurath’s infamous proposal to combat metaphysics by creating and publishing an index of prohibited words. The logic of this proposal is explicated in the frameworks of Neurath’s philosophy of science and his International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. I reconstruct two arguments within Neurath’s project to defend the proposal against criticisms from Neurath’s colleagues and against the charge that philosophers ought not be censors.
Hempel's proposal of covering laws which explain historical events has a certain plausibility, but can never be actually realized due to the chaotic nature of history. The natural laws that would govern both individual lives and greater history would be nonlinear; consequently, in the terminology of chaos theory, the final states of both are extremely sensitive to initial conditions. Initial conditions would need to be exactly known in order to account correctly for historic phenomena, especially for causes and effects which (...) span long, historically interesting, lengths of time. Covering-law history therefore fails because the details of initial conditions are generally unknowable. Since this constraint diminishes as the time over which covering laws operate is divided into smaller consecutive intervals of scenes, covering-law explanations resolve into those having a narrative temporal structure. (shrink)
(2001). Against a third dogma of logical empiricism: Otto Neurath and 'unpredictability in principle' International Studies in the Philosophy of Science: Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 199-209. doi: 10.1080/02698590120059068.