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36. Logical Empiricism


Subject Logic and Language » Logic

Key-Topics empiricism, science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00039.x


The fundamental tenet of logical empiricism is that the warrant for all scientific knowledge rests upon empirical evidence in conjunction with logic, where logic is taken to include induction or confirmation, as well as mathematics and formal logic (see evidence and confirmation ). This appears to conflict strongly with Thomas Kuhn's famous statement that scientific theory choice depends on considerations that go beyond observation and logic, even when logic is construed so as to include confirmation (see kuhn and pragmatic factors in theory acceptance ). Logical empiricists deny the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge - that is, substantive knowledge of the world based on pure reason. Those who, with W. V. Quine, reject the analytic/synthetic distinction, would, I suppose, question the possibility of a priori knowledge altogether (see quine ). Contemporary logical empiricists disagree, however, about such basic issues as the nature of empirical evidence, the status and structure of confirmation or inductive inference, the nature of scientific explanation, and the character of scientific theories, to name but a few examples (see theories; explanation; confirmation, paradoxes of ). The roots of logical empiricism are so intimately entwined with those of logical positivism (see logical positivism ) that the two movements are often mistakenly identified with one another. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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