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logical positivism

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E pistemology, philosophy of science, metaphysics A general philosophical position, also called logical empiricism , developed from the 1920s by members of the Vienna Circle , such as Schlick , Neurath , and Carnap , on the basis of traditional empirical thought and the development of modern logic. Logical positivism confines knowledge to science. It divides all meaningful propositions into two categories: analytic propositions , which are necessarily true and can be known a priori ; and synthetic propositions , which are contingent and can be known empirically or a posteriori . On the one hand, logical positivism pays special attention to mathematics and logic and develops logical syntax and semantics in order to reveal the logical structure of the world. On the other hand, it insists on verificationism , that is, that the meaning of a proposition consists in its method of verification. A purportedly empirical or factual proposition is meaningless if it proves incapable of being verified in experience. All justified beliefs can be reduced ultimately to protocol statements, which can be shown to be true directly without inference from other statements. On this basis, logical positivism claims that traditional metaphysical problems are not false but meaningless, for they cannot be shown to be true by a priori analysis and cannot be verified in experience. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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