::: about
::: news
::: links
::: giving
::: contact

::: calendar
::: lunchtime
::: annual lecture series
::: conferences

::: visiting fellows
::: postdoc fellows
::: senior fellows
::: resident fellows
::: associates

::: visiting fellowships
::: postdoc fellowships
::: senior fellowships
::: resident fellowships
::: associateships

being here
::: visiting
::: the last donut
::: photo album

::: center home >> events >> conferences >> other >> 2012-13 >> carnap & kuhn

Carnap and Kuhn: A Reappraisal

Saturday - Sunday, 20-21 October 2012
Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
817R Cathedral of Learning

::: Program Details
::: Donuts Page

Rudolf Carnap and Thomas Kuhn are often seen as the two opposite poles of twentieth-century philosophy of science: Carnap exemplified the logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle, while Kuhn initiated the historicist reaction against it that began in the 1960s and has yet to run its course.  From the time of Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) until quite recently, it was assumed that their philosophical viewpoints must differ fundamentally.  About twenty years ago, however, a reappraisal set in.  At a conference in 1990, John Earman and Michael Friedman offered comparisons of Kuhn and Carnap that found varying degrees of compatibility between their basic positions; Kuhn responded somewhat defensively to their papers.  In 1991, George Reisch published Carnap’s correspondence with Kuhn about the manuscript and publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, revealing a surprising degree of sympathy with Kuhn’s goals and approach.  The case was soon made that the historical dimension of the history of science that Kuhn was seeking to bring back in had already been implicit in the Vienna Circle’s program, particularly in the work of Otto Neurath and Philipp Frank (cf. Cartwright et al 1996, Uebel 2007).

         However, after this initial flurry of eirenic reconciliation, the discussion has not moved on.  While it has been suggested that the underlying philosophical outlooks of Carnap and Kuhn are largely compatible (Reisch 1991, Irzik 2003), and that each can be located in related branches of early twentieth-century neo-Kantianism (Friedman 1993, 2003), little further work has been undertaken to explore how deep this suggested compatibility goes, or why — despite it — Kuhn’s work still seems to represent such a major break with the philosophy of science in the first half of the twentieth century.  The conference brings some of the participants in this discussion together and encourages them to probe more deeply into this question:  Where exactly are the differences as well as the compatibilities between Carnap and Kuhn to be found?  Are the differences reconcilable or irreducibly opposed?  Are they gradual or discontinuous?  These were the questions initially posed by Earman, against the broader background of Carnap’s later quasi-Bayesianism, in his paper at the 1990 conference.  Earman gave provisional answers, but for all the discussion since then, these answers have hardly been either challenged or accepted, or even discussed.  Earman’s paper, then, provides a natural and still up to date starting point or agenda for the envisaged reappraisal of the conceptual interrelations between Carnap’s and Kuhn’s approaches to the philosophy of science. 


Speakers & Panelists

Steve Awodey, Carnegie Mellon University
Andre Carus, Hegeler Institute
Rick Creath, Arizona State University
Graciela De Pierris, Stanford University
Michael Friedman, Stanford University
Clark Glymour, Carnegie Mellon University
George Reisch, Open Court Publishing
Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh
Tom Ricketts, University of Pittsburgh
George Smith, Tufts University

Program Committee

Bob Batterman, University of Pittsburgh
Andre Carus, Hegeler Institute
Anil Gupta, University of Pittsburgh
Mark Wilson, University of Pittsburgh
James Woodward, University of Pittsburgh


Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Harvey and Leslie Wagner Endowment

Revised 5/2/13 - Copyright 2011