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57. Ramsey Sentences


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00060.x


In what is known as the “ received view ” analysis, logical positivism construed scientific theories TC as being axiomatized in first-order predicate calculus using proper axioms T (the theoretical laws) and having distinct observational and theoretical vocabularies V O and V T which are related to each other via a dictionary of correspondence rules C (see theories ). Prior to 1936 the correspondence rules were required to be equivalences between V T terms and simple or complex observational conditions expressible using just V O terms that provided noncreative explicit definitions of the terms (see craig's theorem ). The empirical content of the theory TC was identified with the set O of theorems which contained V O but not V T terms. Frank Plumpton Ramsey explored some of the properties of such theories: 1 Can we say anything [empirically] in the [ V T ] language of this theory that we could not say without it? … 2 Can we reproduce the structure of our theory by means of explicit definitions within the primary [ V O ] system? ( Ramsey 1960 , pp. 219–20). His answer to the first question is an early statement of the noncreativity of explicit definitions. The second explores the eliminability of V T assertions, considering such explicit definition techniques as truth-functional expansions of monadic predicates. He concludes that while in principle ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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