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::: center home >> events >> lunchtime >> 2010-11 >> abstracts

Tuesday, 12 October 2010
From Movement to Discipline:  The Philosophy of Science
in the 20th Century
Heather Douglas
Visiting Fellow (CPS)
University of Tennessee, Philosophy
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning

::: photos

Abstract:  Philosophy of science today traces its roots back to the logical empiricism of the early 20th century and its interlocutors.  Carnap, Hempel, Reichenbach, Feigl, Popper and others are seen as central to the development of the field, as is the founding of the Philosophy of Science Association and its journal, Philosophy of Science.  Yet in recent scholarship examining both the Vienna Circle and the journal in its early decades, the philosophers of the 1920s and 1930s seem to be up to something quite different than what philosophers of science do today.  George Reisch, Don Howard, Ron Giere, and others have attempted to diagnose the narrowing or shifting of interests reflected in the field.  These attempts are suggestive, but as yet no one frame seems adequate to capture the change in the field from 1930 to 1960.  In this talk, I will venture such a frame, and provide historical evidence for its accuracy and appropriateness.  I will suggest that before World War II, philosophy of science did not yet exist as a discipline, but was rather part of a reform movement for philosophy as a whole, a reform movement centered on making philosophy more scientific.  While this reform movement largely failed, it did create the groundwork for a new discipline, the philosophy of science.  The shift from movement to discipline was not without cause or cost, and understanding both is crucial to seeing where the field can go from its current location.

Revised 10/25/10 - Copyright 2009