The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.
What caused the demise of logical positivism? According to certain potted histories of 20th-Century philosophy, it was Willard V.O. Quine’s refutation of central claims about analyticity in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” that did it, or Thomas Kuhn’s refutation of logical positivism’s claims about science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, or it was problems about how to understand the verification principle (is it itself verifiable?) that did it in. These explanations are problematic. Quine just didn’t give any compelling argument against analyticity in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”. At best he argued that it couldn’t be non-circularly characterized, but the same goes for many perfectly legitimate notions, and notions Quine accepted as perfectly legitimate – as H. P. Grice and Peter Strawson were quick to point out. As for Kuhn, it has now been well-documented that Rudolf Carnap, the most famous logical positivist, was quite positive about Kuhn’s project. Simplifying somewhat: while Kuhn presented an account of actual history of science, the positivists discussed science under a certain idealization. Kuhn does not even talk much about logical positivism in Structure. Problems regarding the verification principle are another matter. Those problems are arguably serious. But they weren’t discovered when logical positivism met its demise. (Which was when, exactly? The 1950s? Early 60s?) Rather, such problems were always Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: Trends in Philosophy By Matti Eklund”