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Synthese

, Volume 194, Issue 1, pp 217–252 | Cite as

Carnap on empirical significance

  • Sebastian Lutz
Article

Abstract

Carnap’s search for a criterion of empirical significance is usually considered a failure. I argue that the results from two out of his three different approaches are at the very least problematic, but that one approach led to success. Carnap’s criterion of translatability into logical syntax is too vague to allow for definite results. His criteria for terms—introducibility by chains of reduction sentences and his criterion from “The Methodological Character of Theoretical Concepts”—are almost trivial and have no clear relation to the empirical significance of sentences. However, his criteria for sentences—translatability, verifiability, falsifiability, confirmability—are usable, and under the assumptions needed for the Carnap sentence approach, verifiability, falsifiability, and translatability become equivalent. As a result of the Carnap sentence approach, metaphysics is rendered analytic.

Keywords

Empirical significance Carnap Logical empiricism Carnap sentence Verifiability Falsifiability 

Notes

Acknowledgments

A previous version was presented in 2013 at the workshop Carnap on Logic at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, some aspects were presented in 2013 at the workshop Formal Epistemology and the Legacy of Logical Empiricism at the University of Texas at Austin and in 2012 at the Groningen/Munich Summer School Formal Methods in Philosophy under the title “The Criteria for the Empirical Significance of Terms”. I thank the audiences for helpful comments and discussions, and I especially thank two anonymous reviewers for a multitude of excellent comments, corrections, and suggestions. Research for this article was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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