Event Detail

Wed Apr 21, 2010
470 Stephens, 6:10–8 PM
Working Group in the History and Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Science
Alan Richardson (University of British Columbia)
Carnap’s Logical Empiricism as Philosophy of Science and as Analytic Philosophy, historisch-kritisch dargestellt

One of the key features of Alberto Coffa’s monograph, The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap, was that it offered an account of the historical development of logical empiricism that could make sense of logical empiricism’s place both in the history of philosophy of science and in the history of analytic philosophy. I intend neither to endorse nor even directly to take issue with Coffa’s history, but rather to reflect on the obligations of and problems for any attempt to locate logical empiricism in a joint history of philosophy of science and analytic philosophy. I start with a specific puzzle about an ambivalence one can find in Carnap’s work regarding a distinction important to the history of analytic philosophy—whether we should conceive of logic as language or as calculus. In diagnosing Carnap’s ambivalence on this issue, I locate Carnap’s main philosophical interests along a different dimension and his main philosophical innovation as deriving from a different disciplinary matrix than do those who seek to locate his work primarily within a history of analytic philosophy. My understanding of Carnap sees him as offering a specific applied science account of philosophy, one deriving from the characteristic early twentieth-century concerns of metrology. I use this account to ask certain questions about the relations of the early twentieth-century philosophy of science to the rise of analytic philosophy and, ultimately, about the place of philosophy of science within analytic philosophy today. I will also attempt to illustrate some oft neglected relations between the history of science and the history of philosophy in the past 150 or so years.