Topics in Philosophy of Science
The Rise and Fall of Logical Empiricism
This course will follow the trajectory of the Logical Empiricist movement from its origins in the 1930’s through its eventual dissolution in the late 1940s and 1950s. We will briefly consider classical empiricism as articulated by Hume, and the effect that modern propositional logic had on the formulation of the position. General topics will include the problem of induction and the nature of scientific explanation. We will then consider some approaches to these issues that arose out of the ashes of Logical Empiricism from the 1960’s forward. Readings include classic papers by Carnap, Russell, Hempel and Quine, as well as Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery, Goodman’s Fact, Fiction and Forecast, Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Lakatos’s Proof and Refutations. One additional theme will be the question of whether there is any single “scientific method” or “unity of science”, and what that thesis might even mean.