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Logical Positivism

Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/10/2012 11:01:01 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I've been doing a lot of philosophy of science and metaphysics reading lately and one topic that really interests me is logical positivism (or scientism if you will). I was curious to see if there are any logical positivists here and how one justifies that position at a metaphysical/philosophical level.

A quick warning though, this is not intended to be an anti-science thread or a religion vs. science thread.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,926
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1/10/2012 11:45:03 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Meh, it's self-refuting anyways. One wonders how that idea even infiltrated academia in the first place.
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OberHerr
Posts: 13,062
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1/10/2012 11:52:35 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/10/2012 11:01:01 PM, Skyhook wrote:
I've been doing a lot of philosophy of science and metaphysics reading lately and one topic that really interests me is logical positivism (or scientism if you will). I was curious to see if there are any logical positivists here and how one justifies that position at a metaphysical/philosophical level.

A quick warning though, this is not intended to be an anti-science thread or a religion vs. science thread.

Could you explain it a little? I've never heard of it before.
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OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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1/10/2012 11:55:01 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I'd be surprised if we had any logical positivists here, the ideology is pretty much dead AFAIK. I'm taking a Wittgenstein course next semester and it should be fascinating but I've watched a pretty good interview with Ayers (a former LP) who gives some pretty good insight.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,926
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1/11/2012 12:02:51 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/10/2012 11:55:01 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
I'd be surprised if we had any logical positivists here, the ideology is pretty much dead AFAIK. I'm taking a Wittgenstein course next semester and it should be fascinating but I've watched a pretty good interview with Ayers (a former LP) who gives some pretty good insight.

I've encountered a lot of people in discussions IRL and on the internet - they tend to bill themselves as, erm, "skeptics" or "rationalists"- who implicitly hold to logical positivism.

This rear it's head often when I started talking about metaphysics in the form of "if it's not 'verifiable' by empirical evidence (most likely they appeal to science) or analytically true it's not even worth talking about/nonsense and you're just making cr@p up."
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Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/11/2012 12:06:26 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/10/2012 11:52:35 PM, OberHerr wrote:
At 1/10/2012 11:01:01 PM, Skyhook wrote:
I've been doing a lot of philosophy of science and metaphysics reading lately and one topic that really interests me is logical positivism (or scientism if you will). I was curious to see if there are any logical positivists here and how one justifies that position at a metaphysical/philosophical level.

A quick warning though, this is not intended to be an anti-science thread or a religion vs. science thread.

Could you explain it a little? I've never heard of it before.

I hope I'm doing it justice but it's basically the philosophy that if something cannot be proven by science (verification principle and empirical observation), then that something is meaningless. That itself is a metaphysical claim and the self-refutation PCP is probably referring to. In other words, how can you measure (by means of science) that only that which can be measured by science is meaningful?

Here's a link that goes a little more in depth. http://www.loyno.edu...
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".
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Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/11/2012 12:08:55 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:02:51 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/10/2012 11:55:01 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
I'd be surprised if we had any logical positivists here, the ideology is pretty much dead AFAIK. I'm taking a Wittgenstein course next semester and it should be fascinating but I've watched a pretty good interview with Ayers (a former LP) who gives some pretty good insight.

I've encountered a lot of people in discussions IRL and on the internet - they tend to bill themselves as, erm, "skeptics" or "rationalists"- who implicitly hold to logical positivism.

This rear it's head often when I started talking about metaphysics in the form of "if it's not 'verifiable' by empirical evidence (most likely they appeal to science) or analytically true it's not even worth talking about/nonsense and you're just making cr@p up."

Yeah, that's exactly what I was trying to get at. At a popular level (at least in internet discussions), these people hold to it and I just wanted to see how they justify it against the metaphysical criticisms.
OberHerr
Posts: 13,062
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1/11/2012 12:09:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:06:26 AM, Skyhook wrote:
At 1/10/2012 11:52:35 PM, OberHerr wrote:
At 1/10/2012 11:01:01 PM, Skyhook wrote:
I've been doing a lot of philosophy of science and metaphysics reading lately and one topic that really interests me is logical positivism (or scientism if you will). I was curious to see if there are any logical positivists here and how one justifies that position at a metaphysical/philosophical level.

A quick warning though, this is not intended to be an anti-science thread or a religion vs. science thread.

Could you explain it a little? I've never heard of it before.

I hope I'm doing it justice but it's basically the philosophy that if something cannot be proven by science (verification principle and empirical observation), then that something is meaningless. That itself is a metaphysical claim and the self-refutation PCP is probably referring to. In other words, how can you measure (by means of science) that only that which can be measured by science is meaningful?

Here's a link that goes a little more in depth. http://www.loyno.edu...

Hmm, well I don't believe that, but thanks for the good explanation.
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popculturepooka
Posts: 7,926
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1/11/2012 12:09:57 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".

What?! Expand, please. If anything, it held philosophy's progress back for a couple of decades.
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Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/11/2012 12:11:40 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/10/2012 11:55:01 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
I'd be surprised if we had any logical positivists here, the ideology is pretty much dead AFAIK. I'm taking a Wittgenstein course next semester and it should be fascinating but I've watched a pretty good interview with Ayers (a former LP) who gives some pretty good insight.

Thanks for the tip. I'll hunt for that interview on youtube. Hope that Wittgenstein course goes well and won't be too dry.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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1/11/2012 12:15:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:09:57 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".

What?! Expand, please. If anything, it held philosophy's progress back for a couple of decades.

Engineering, science, and technology would not be possible without experimentation using the positivism approach.
Open borders debate:
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popculturepooka
Posts: 7,926
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1/11/2012 12:24:09 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:15:44 AM, darkkermit wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:09:57 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".

What?! Expand, please. If anything, it held philosophy's progress back for a couple of decades.

Engineering, science, and technology would not be possible without experimentation using the positivism approach.

What are you talking about? The founders of modern science, technology, and engineering weren't logical positivists at all. Saying "we should experiment s to confirm theory in case t" is not the same as saying that those experimental (experiential) methods exhaust all worthwhile fields of inquiry and knowledge and anything that isn't experimental (experiential) really isn't knowledge/worthwhile. The latter claim is logical positivism, the former isn't.
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darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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1/11/2012 12:30:36 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:24:09 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:15:44 AM, darkkermit wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:09:57 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".

What?! Expand, please. If anything, it held philosophy's progress back for a couple of decades.

Engineering, science, and technology would not be possible without experimentation using the positivism approach.

What are you talking about? The founders of modern science, technology, and engineering weren't logical positivists at all. Saying "we should experiment s to confirm theory in case t" is not the same as saying that those experimental (experiential) methods exhaust all worthwhile fields of inquiry and knowledge and anything that isn't experimental (experiential) really isn't knowledge/worthwhile. The latter claim is logical positivism, the former isn't.

Yes, but the methodology of using positivism has brought about great advances. They didn't rely on other forms of philosophy to discover knowledge. They didn't rely on other philosophies (my philosophy is rusty, so I don't know a whole lot) to create these technologies. They used knowledge derived from positivism to create the computer your typing on right now.
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Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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1/11/2012 11:42:07 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Logical Positivism has been all but dead since the 1970s. Ayers even said he believed most of logical positivism was false, and HE was a main proponent." (http://journals.cambridge.org...)

It's like saying "who wants to support gemmules theory? Come on, Evolutionary Theory depended on it for decades. What's wrong with you guys?"
TheSkeptic
Posts: 1,362
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1/12/2012 7:16:12 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Positivism is academically dead despite being the "big thing" during it's heyday, kind of like behaviorism in the philosophy of mind.
Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/12/2012 4:46:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thanks for the input folks really appreciate it. I just finished watching the interview that OMGJustinBieber recommended and towards the end, Ayer confesses the shortcomings of LP and its death. Going back to darkkermit, if I'm not mistaken I think you're defending the attitude/ambitiousness of LP (which Ayer and Popper admired but could no longer get behind it).

@6:35 is when Ayer gets into the defects.

If anyone wants a further discussion, is Popper's theory of falsification a better alternative to LP?
Skyhook
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1/12/2012 4:50:23 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thanks for the input folks really appreciate it. I just finished watching the interview that OMGJustinBieber recommended and towards the end, Ayer confesses the shortcomings of LP and its death. Going back to darkkermit, if I'm not mistaken I think you're defending the attitude/ambitiousness of LP (which Ayer and Popper admired but could no longer get behind it).

If anyone wants a further discussion, is Popper's theory of falsification a better alternative to LP?

If anyone's interested in the Ayer interview, at 6:37 he gets into the criticism of LP
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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1/13/2012 1:18:08 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/11/2012 12:30:36 AM, darkkermit wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:24:09 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:15:44 AM, darkkermit wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:09:57 AM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 1/11/2012 12:07:22 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Seriously, no logical positivists out there? The theory that has basically advanced modern society as we know it gets a "meh".

What?! Expand, please. If anything, it held philosophy's progress back for a couple of decades.

Engineering, science, and technology would not be possible without experimentation using the positivism approach.

What are you talking about? The founders of modern science, technology, and engineering weren't logical positivists at all. Saying "we should experiment s to confirm theory in case t" is not the same as saying that those experimental (experiential) methods exhaust all worthwhile fields of inquiry and knowledge and anything that isn't experimental (experiential) really isn't knowledge/worthwhile. The latter claim is logical positivism, the former isn't.

Yes, but the methodology of using positivism has brought about great advances. They didn't rely on other forms of philosophy to discover knowledge. They didn't rely on other philosophies (my philosophy is rusty, so I don't know a whole lot) to create these technologies. They used knowledge derived from positivism to create the computer your typing on right now.

There was a great deal of theoretical science that went into developing computers, as there always is in developing something new.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,926
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1/13/2012 8:36:08 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/12/2012 4:50:23 PM, Skyhook wrote:
Thanks for the input folks really appreciate it. I just finished watching the interview that OMGJustinBieber recommended and towards the end, Ayer confesses the shortcomings of LP and its death. Going back to darkkermit, if I'm not mistaken I think you're defending the attitude/ambitiousness of LP (which Ayer and Popper admired but could no longer get behind it).

If anyone wants a further discussion, is Popper's theory of falsification a better alternative to LP?


If you mean it in the same vein as LP wherein some statement is only meaningful if it can be falsified then it's not a better alternative. For instance, singular existential statements like "atoms exist" can't be falsified, yet very obviously, it is meaningful. If you mean Popper's theory of falsification wrt to demarcating science from non-science it does no better.

If anyone's interested in the Ayer interview, at 6:37 he gets into the criticism of LP

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Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/13/2012 10:08:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
@PCP okay, gotcha. If you don't mind my asking, but what would you say is the best way of going about conducting science (if there is one)?
Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/13/2012 10:59:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/13/2012 10:08:13 PM, Skyhook wrote:
@PCP okay, gotcha. If you don't mind my asking, but what would you say is the best way of going about conducting science (if there is one)?

Actually, now that I think about it, that was a pretty stupid question. What I probably should have asked was what do you think is the best criteria to demarcate science from non-science(if there is any)? I was under the impression (at least by my school's chem. chair) that the differences between science and non-science are testability, falsifiability, and reasonableness.
popculturepooka
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1/13/2012 11:21:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/13/2012 10:59:55 PM, Skyhook wrote:
At 1/13/2012 10:08:13 PM, Skyhook wrote:
@PCP okay, gotcha. If you don't mind my asking, but what would you say is the best way of going about conducting science (if there is one)?

Actually, now that I think about it, that was a pretty stupid question. What I probably should have asked was what do you think is the best criteria to demarcate science from non-science(if there is any)?

I've read a bit on the demarcation problem in philosophy of science [1] and I'm not at all sure what exactly demarcates science from non-science. What I am fairly sure about is all the demarcation criteria I have looked at fail pretty bad and very obviously.The best I have to go on on is an intuitive demarcation process. It seems very obvious to me (at least) that science is different than metaphysics, yet, somehow, its hard to articulate this difference. Lol, got to love philosophy. ;)

I very, very, VERY, VERY (is that enough "very"s? lol) strongly recommend all intrepid demarcation problem solvers to read Larry Laudan's classic paper, "The Demise of the Demarcation Problem". [2]

I was under the impression (at least by my school's chem. chair) that the differences between science and non-science are testability, falsifiability, and reasonableness.

The problem is when you attempt to apply these criteria they tend to exclude (ostensible) scientific claims and include (ostensible) non-scientific claims. Let's take, for example, flat-earthism in conjunction falisfiability. This is an eminently falsifiable claim (it's false), yet, by the fasifiaiblity criterion this counts as a scientific claim. Most people would balk at the thought that "flat-earthism" is anywhere near a scientific claim. I'm just scratching the surface but hopefully you get the point.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu... <-- this is a good resource to get a general idea of what I mean by "demarcation problem"
[2] http://books.google.com...
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Skyhook
Posts: 77
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1/13/2012 11:59:08 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thanks for the sources. I understood what you said though especially about the intuitive understanding of science. Man, there is so much I have to learn in philosophy lol. I can't believe just a year ago I thought I already had all the answers and thought philosophers were just people with nothing better to do but bicker over pointless topics.
Kinesis
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1/14/2012 4:33:42 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
It seems very obvious to me (at least) that science is different than metaphysics, yet, somehow, its hard to articulate this difference. Lol, got to love philosophy. ;)

I don't know of any easy way of demarking science from non-science, but the difference between metaphysics and science is largely that of method - metaphysics is almost entirely an a-priori investigation, whereas science is an empirical investigation. Which I suspect is why metaphysicians have, as far as I can tell, generated no meaningful consensus about anything.
popculturepooka
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1/14/2012 12:38:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/14/2012 4:33:42 AM, Kinesis wrote:
It seems very obvious to me (at least) that science is different than metaphysics, yet, somehow, its hard to articulate this difference. Lol, got to love philosophy. ;)

I don't know of any easy way of demarking science from non-science, but the difference between metaphysics and science is largely that of method - metaphysics is almost entirely an a-priori investigation, whereas science is an empirical investigation. Which I suspect is why metaphysicians have, as far as I can tell, generated no meaningful consensus about anything.

Good point and one I should've thought of including (especially since I just read E.J. Lowe's "The Possibility of Metaphysics"). Somehow I forgot.
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The_Fool_on_the_hill
Posts: 6,071
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1/27/2012 10:34:09 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I am part of the postivistic line. line.. I think it could be easily be argue for.. I am in the process of remastering it , I think its very fixable... I hope to have that book done soon..

looking for good philosophers to friend...

The fool... in your house
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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1/27/2012 10:35:52 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I am also ready to take challeges againts it.. if you thinks you can,

The Fool.......in the window
"The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant's existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another." G. W. F. HEGEL