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Chapter 2

PHIL 2180 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Formal Science, Phenomenalism, Empiricism

Course Code
PHIL 2180
Karyn Freedman

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Chapter 2: Logic plus Empiricism
Logical Positivism:
Early and intense version of empiricism.
Only meaningful philosophical problems are those that can be solved by logical analysis.
Extreme form of empiricism.
Inspired by developments in science, logic (main tool), math and philosophy of language.
Logical Positivism’s Central Ideas:
Their views about science were based on a general theory of language:
Analytic-Synthetic Distinction:
Analytic: Sentences, such as “Ophthalmologists are doctors,” whose truth seems
to be knowable by knowing the meanings of the fundamental words alone.
Synthetic: “Ophthalmologists are rich,” whose truth is knowable by both
knowing the meaning of the words and something about the world.
Priori: Something known independently of experience.
Verifiability Theory of Meaning:
Knowing the meaning of a sentence is knowing how to verify it.
Therefore, no verification through “observation”, no meaning.
Observational Language: “The rod is red.” Observed as sensation.
Theoretical Language: “Helium has two electrons.”
Deductive Logic: Logic from one or more statements to reach a logically certain conclusion.
Inductive Logic: Reasoning in which the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not
absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion.
Logical Empiricism: Later and more moderate version. Used as the entire empiricism movement.
Sensationalist: Sensations, like patches of colour and sounds, appear in the mind and are all it has
access to. Developed my John Locke and David Hume.
Problems with Empiricism:
External World Skepticism: How can we know the real world that lies behind the flow of
Inductive Skepticism: Why do we think that the patterns in past experience will also hold in the
Phenomenalism: Human knowledge is confined to the realities or appearances presented to the senses.
Rationalists: Pure reasoning can be a route to knowledge that does not depend on experience. Oppose
Immanuel Kant:
Thinking involves a subtle interaction between experience and pre-existing mental structures.
Mathematics gives us real knowledge, but does not require justifiable experience.
Empiricist Tradition:
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