Is Unity a dangerous or useful concept in
Games in Logic and the Role of a Logical Language in the Encyclopedic Project of
Otto Neurath Shahid
(IBMC - Cellular and Molecular Biology Institut, Oporto University, Portugal)
A lot of discussion has taken place around concepts such as the Unity of Science. The idea has a certain appeal to many. It provides a notion of
solidity. I prefer the notion of freedom in the search for knowledge. And I am always very suspicious when we talk about "Unity" instead of something less daunting, such as "unity".
(Department of Philosophy,
Is Unity a dangerous or useful concept in Science?
Games in Logic and the Role of a Logical Language in the Encyclopedic Project of
In the preface to the volume launching the series
“Logic, Epistemology and the Unity of Science” Rahman and Symons suggested
that Neurath’s proposal of the construction of logical language has to be
connected to the role of the philosopher as building co-operation bridges
between different sciences inherited from the tradition of the French
Encyclopedists. However, in our view; Neurath would add to the Encyclopedist
project that the role of the philosopher should be performed with help of a
logical analysis of the language of the sciences. In Neurath’s papers of 1935
and 1938 the construction of a logical language is thought of an instrument of
unification, a kind of lingua franca.
I will argue that language games are an adequate
instrument to perform such a role in a non reductionistic way.
In this context I will discuss two frameworks which
claim to implement the notion of language game in logic. Namely the framework of
the indoor games of the dialogical tradition initiated by Paul Lorenzen and Kuno
Lorenz and the framework of the outdoor games of the game theoretical semantics
tradition initiated by Jaakko Hintikka. Furthermore I will try to show how the
dispute between indoor and outdoor games including could be re-conciliated in a
logical framework able to differentiate between public and private knowledge of
both actions and objects and where language games as meaning mediators is
commitment to humanly playable games. Here I will suggest too that the notion of
humanly playable must be connected with Wittgenstein’s view of language games
as having a “fictional” character.
Finally I will discuss some consequences and open problems to this approach such as Wittgenstein’ thesis of the “ineffability” of semantics.
Scientific Reasonableness and the Pragmatic Approach to the Unity of Science
(Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, Complutense University, Spain)
question of the unity of science is one of the most serious issues the modern
philosophy of science has been concerned with from its very beginning. The idea
of Unified Science was so important for the successors of the Viennese
neo-positivists that an International Encyclopedia
of Unified Science replaced the journal Erkenntnis
in the USA, and survived until the early sixties of the past century. Rudolf
Carnap’s phenomenalism in Der logische
Aufbau der Welt, 1928, and Vienna-Circle’s physicalism in the thirties
were faced with the philosophical justification and explanation of the idea of
the unity of science, that constituted an essential part of the programme
defended in Carnap-Hahn-Neurath’s document Wissenschaftliche
Weltauffassung. Der Wiener Kreis, 1929.
it is well known, the neo-positivist concern with the unity of science was
intended to undermine Wilhelm Dilthey’s distinction between natural and
social-cultural sciences, the so-called Geisteswissenschaften.
Carnap’s Aufbau particularly was a
philosophical monument erected from a logical positivist perspective in favour
of the unity of science.
vs. Erklären (Understanding vs. Explanation) was the contraposition in
the methodology between Geisteswissenschaften
on the one side, and the natural sciences on the other. This contraposition
based on the impossibility for the Geisteswissenschaften
to show an empirical success comparable with the impressive success that the
natural sciences allegedly were able to show since the outset of the Scientific
Revolution. And, in spite of the intended purposes of Diderot and D’Alembert’s
Encyclopedie, 1740, to defend the
Unity of Culture, a large tradition supporting this contraposition arouse,
starting with Johann Gustav Droysen’s Grundriss
der Historik, 1850, and continuing with Max Weber and Wilhelm Dilthey. The
discussion was continued in the second half of the 20th century by Georg Henrik
von Wright, Hans Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, among others.
my contribution I am going to face this question in three steps. Firstly, I will
proceed historically. I will point to the fact that Carnap’s approach to the
Unity of Science -a view according to which it was legitimate to give up the
contraposition between Naturwissenschaften,
Psychologie and Geisteswissenschaften-,
grounded on the philosophical mistake that it was possible to provide a sound
explanation for the foundation of the
whole science on an unique firm basis. Moreover, the subsequent Vienna-Circle’s
physicalist attempt to save the situation was reasonably rejected by
contemporary philosophers of science like Popper and Fleck, and, some years
later, by the stream of methodologists that doubted the existence of a neutral
empirical basis, and in general by the post-positivist epistemologists.
second argument will be a more philosophical one: I will deal with the question
about whether or not the natural sciences do harbour some kind of privileged and
exclusive method for the access to reality. Moreover I will treat the question
of whether the Unity of Science can be rescued by mimetically applying the
method of natural sciences to social sciences like economics, empirical
sociology, and others. In order to answer these questions I will scrutinize the
alleged overwhelming success of classical science. In particular I will point to
the so-called threefold breaking-off of determinism. Furthermore, I will also
argue that, as contemporary physics shows, every form of scientific creativity,
let us call it induction, abduction or preduction, only provides
with means that allow us to deal fallibly
if I am right, and the ideal of secure science reveals itself merely as a myth
of rationalism in our scientific
culture, I propose to replace in the realm of science the search for rationality
by the search of reasonableness. Reasonableness is a weaker demand than
rationality; it is neither tied to the idea of truth as the aim of science, nor
to the existence of a secure and unique scientific method. But it is a guarantee
that the justification of our conjectures, decisions, and, if possible, even of
our fallible beliefs, are based in critical discussion and argumentation. This
way makes superfluous any sharp distinction between natural and social-cultural
sciences, but also any superimposed assimilation of the Geisteswissenschaften
to the natural sciences, either by the way of the foundation of the different
sciences on a common ground, or by the reduction to a fictitious physicalist
language, or by an assumption of the ‘superior’ method of the natural
To sum up, I conceive of the question of the unity of science as a particular case of the unity of Western culture from a pragmatic viewpoint in contemporary philosophy.
Relevant Metaphysics of Causation
Causal reasoning provides man with tools, which practically save, and take, lives every day. During the past 40 years, quite a few theories of causation have been presented. Some of them have survived thanks to their problem solving abilities. Some of them survived because they have created new philosophical fields. Despite the unquestionable, everyday-value of the concept, some philosophers do propagate for an anti-realist view on causation. Don’t we have enough evidence for the view that the world is a causal construction? Or do we, strictly, just have evidence for the relevance of a causal attitude towards the construction we refer to as “nature”? I believe the latter. I believe that causation is a second order characteristic of the world rather than a fundamental or primitive property. To argue for such a statement, one has to be prepared to present some intelligible arguments for it. This paper is a defence for such a view.
A Dualistic Account
I share my view on relations with R.Carnap, and argue that it is needed to answer two separate questions to formulate necessary and sufficient conditions for a relation to be considered as causal.
1. What is the correlation between the connected objects (cause and effect)? And
2. What is the nature, or essence, and the ontological status of supposed causal connectedness?
By separating the questions it is possible to reach a solution that does not imply conflicts between causally and randomly dependent processes, which I think is of a great scientific importance. Considering e.g. quantum mechanics, where it normally is considered an unsolvable enigma that what is described as just a collection of non-dependent probable distribution of quanta constantly can, and in fact does, manifest in our world as the very same marble, brown table or hydrogen atom. It is indeed interesting, how probability distributed quanta, described as wave-functions, in micro-cosmos manifest in macro-cosmos as a causal, natural law governed physical reality.
To reach my point, I will as an illustrative aid use mathematical functions and their graphs. One “well-behaved” sine function and one “pathological” modified Weierstrass, function. What makes this pathological function significant is that, similar to a fractal, it has uniform and infinite complexity no matter how closely one "zooms in" to view the image. For this reason, curves do not appear to become smoother as one "zooms in", thus no tangent can be equated to the graph at any one point, thus the function is nowhere differentiable. One can imagine circumstances under which it is not unreasonable to assume that a physical manifestation of a pathological function might give raise to observations that gives evidence for assuming a well-behaved function as being the law-like approximation. E.g. the function f(x)=bsinx gives a fairly good approximation to a physical manifestation of the pathological function above. It is clear that the well-behaved approximation has got different second-order characteristics than has the pathological function.
I argue that our concept of causation is closely related to a second-order characteristic of the well-behaved function that approximately describes the process in question. Hence, causation can be considered a relevant feature of our scientific approximation, but not reflecting the absolute functional dependency. Random is equivalent to non-causal, or non- differentiable. The view presented makes it intelligible how, even in fundamental physics, random processes still might manifest in a causal way. Or to put it another way: It explains how randomized distribution on a lower level can express as causal distribution on a higher level. And, furthermore, it explains how randomness not necessarily leads us to an unpredictable nature.
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