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)
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)
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)
Verificationism has had a bad press for many years. The view that the meaning of our words is bound up with the discernible difference it would make if what we say, think or write were true or false, nowadays is scorned as “positivist” though it was shared by eminent empiricists and pragmatists. This paper seeks to sort through some of the complexities of what is often portrayed as an unduly simplistic conception. I begin with an overview of its main logical (...) empiricist varieties before considering which aspects of it fall victim to which of the three major types of objection that have been raised against it. I will conclude that what is left standing is a modest proposal that seems worth further investigation. (shrink)
The question of the political potential possessed by the philosophies of the Vienna Circle is complex for more than one reason. It is so partly due to the politically heterogeneous membership of the Circle, partly due to the difficult if not extreme political circumstances under which they had to operate, and partly due to the variable meanings of the parameter "political," some of which are and some of which are not compatible with, in turn, variable versions of the doctrine of (...) the value-neutrality of science. For instance, philosophies of science may steadfastly be standing guard against pseudo-scientific nonsense being paraded as worthy of credence in public discourse, this concern for intellectual hygene... (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 ready availability of wittgenstein's previously unpublished writings from his so-called middle period of 1929 to 1936 has greatly enriched our understanding of the development of his thought. For obvious reasons, however, it has had little effect on the interpretation of Wittgenstein's contemporaries. At the time, few, even amongst those who had by then taken note of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, were apprised of the new avenues Wittgenstein's thought had begun to take. One such rare exception was Moritz Schlick, the nominal (...) head of the Vienna Circle and an eminent philosopher of science. Even before Wittgenstein's return to... (shrink)
Discussions of the relation between pragmatism and logical empiricism tend to focus on the period when the logical empiricists found themselves in exile, mostly in the United States, and then attempt to gauge the actual extent of their convergence. My concern lies with the period before that and the question whether pragmatism had an earlier influence on the development of logical empiricism, especially on the thought of the former members of the “first” Vienna Circle. I argue for a substantially qualified (...) affirmative answer. (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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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 insufficiently consulted documents.
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.
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.
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)
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)
This paper considers the question whether the notion of the relative apriori, central to Michael Friedman’s transcendentalist programme for philosophy of science, is available also to philosophers who reject appeals to a synthetic a priori. After tracing the rediscovery of the relative a priori and delineating its potential, the question is considered whether Friedman’s arguments against Quinean naturalism and Carnap’s attenuated logicism tell against a conception of philosophy as scientific metatheory that combines logical and empirical inquiries. Finding an opening here (...) it is argued that this conception can also help itself to the notion of a relative a priori which, it is agreed, is central to historically informed theorising about science. (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)
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)
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)
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.
In this chapter Neurath’s controversial contributions to the socialist calculation debate are confronted with the criticism of two well-known opponents, Ludwig von Mises and Max Weber. Each side’s arguments are considered at a certain level of abstraction so as to allow what are lasting points of significance in Neurath’s proposals to shine through more clearly. It is argued that while these points are closely interwoven in their presentation with his schemes for marketless socialism, they are conceptually independent of them. Suitably (...) so, they have proven influential in just this independent capacity. (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)
hilosophy of history and history of philosophy of science make for an interesting case of “mutual containment”: the former is an object of inquiry for the latter, and the latter is subject to the demands of the former. This article discusses a seminal turn in past philosophy of history with an eye to the practice of historians of philosophy of science. The narrative turn by Danto and Mink represents both a liberation for historians and a new challenge to the objectivity (...) of their findings. I will claim that good sense can be made of “working historical veins of possibility” (contrary to how the phrase was originally intended) and that already Danto and Mink provided materials (although they did not quite advertise them as such) to assuage fears of a constructivist free-for-all. (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)
The development of Carnap’s views on knowledge of other minds from 1928 to about 1935 is tracked here in order to clear up a widespread misunderstanding. Early on and well into the 30s their failure is undeniable but it has been badly misdiagnosed. I argue that Carnap was not only not a logical behaviorist but also aimed for a largely non-reductive approach to mental state ascriptions in principle already in Scheinprobleme. The reason for the failure of his anti-reductionist ambition and (...) what it took to overcome it are then investigated in some detail. In the process, it will be shown, Carnap anticipated, in a limited fashion, certain moves familiar from the Wittgensteinian tradition, albeit with the difference that he attempted to naturalize mind talk. (shrink)
This paper investigates how the doctrine of the epistemological given—long associated with empiricism and positivism and also informing Carnap’s first major work in 1928—was challenged and overcome by Neurath and Carnap in subsequent years. Particular attention is paid to the controversial issue of how precisely the dialectic between Neurath and Carnap played out: whether Neurath’s argumentation correctly engaged with Carnap’s actual positions, whether Carnap’s change of positions in turn fully engaged with Neurath’s challenge, and what all this may tell us (...) about the compatibility of their philosophical projects. (shrink)