Advertisement

Synthese

pp 1–30 | Cite as

Conceptual re-engineering: from explication to reflective equilibrium

  • Georg Brun
S.I. : PhilMethods

Abstract

Carnap and Goodman developed methods of conceptual re-engineering known respectively as explication and reflective equilibrium. These methods aim at advancing theories by developing concepts that are simultaneously guided by pre-existing concepts and intended to replace these concepts. This paper shows that Carnap’s and Goodman’s methods are historically closely related, analyses their structural interconnections, and argues that there is great systematic potential in interpreting them as aspects of one method, which ultimately must be conceived as a component of theory development. The main results are: an adequate method of conceptual re-engineering must focus not on individual concepts but on systems of concepts and theories; the linear structure of Carnapian explication must be replaced by a process of mutual adjustments as described by Goodman; Carnap’s condition of similarity can be analysed into two components, one securing a relation to the specific extensions of the pre-existing concepts, one regulating the transition to the new system of concepts; these two criteria of adequacy can be built into Goodman’s account of reflective equilibrium to ensure that the resulting concepts promote theoretical virtues while being sufficiently similar to the concepts we started out with.

Keywords

Explication Reflective equilibrium Definition Reconstruction Conceptual engineering Carnap Goodman 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research for this paper is part of the project “Reflective Equilibrium – Reconception and Application” (Swiss National Science Foundation Project 150251). It draws on material I wrote while I was a visiting scholar at Harvard University (supported by SNSF Grant 125823). Earlier versions have been presented in Berne, Frankfurt a.M., Prague and Zürich. I would like to thank the audiences, two anonymous reviewers of this journal and especially Christoph Baumberger, Claus Beisbart, Catherine Elgin, Leon Geerdink, Jaroslav Peregrin, Geo Siegwart, Vladimír Svoboda and Nicolas Wüthrich for helpful comments and discussions.

References

  1. Bar-Hillel, Y., & Carnap, R. (1953). Semantic information. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 4, 147–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumberger, C. (forthcoming). Explicating objectual understanding. Taking degrees seriously. Journal for General Philosophy of Science.Google Scholar
  3. Baumberger, C., & Brun, G. (2016). Dimensions of objectual understanding. To appear in S.R. Grimm, C. Baumberger, S. Ammon (Eds). Explaining understanding. New perspectives from epistemology and philosophy of science (pp. 165–189). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Brun, G. (2014a). Reconstructing arguments: Formalization and reflective equilibrium. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy, 17, 94–129.Google Scholar
  5. Brun, G. (2014b). Reflective equilibrium without intuitions? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 17, 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brun, G. (2016). Explication as a method of conceptual re-engineering. Erkenntnis, 81, 1211–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cappelen, H. (forthcoming). Fixing Language. An Essay on Conceptual Engineering. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Carnap, R. (1945). The two concepts of probability. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 5, 513–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carnap, R. (1956) [1947]. Meaning and necessity. A study in semantics and modal logic (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Carnap, R. (1962) [1950]. Logical foundations of probability (2nd ed.). Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press/Routledge and Kegan Paul. Referenced as LFP.Google Scholar
  11. Carnap, R. (1963a). Intellectual autobiography. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (pp. 3–84). La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  12. Carnap, R. (1963b). Replies and systematic expositions. In Schilpp, P. A. (Ed.). The philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (pp. 859–1013). La Salle: Open Court. Referenced as RSE.Google Scholar
  13. Carnap, R. (2003) [1928/34]. The logical structure of the world. In: Pseudoproblems in philosophy. Chicago/La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  14. Carus, A. W. (2007). Carnap and twentieth-century thought. Explication as enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Cohnitz, D., & Rossberg, M. (2006). Nelson Goodman. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Daniels, N. (1980). On some methods of ethics and linguistics. Philosophical Studies, 37, 21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Daniels, N. (2016). Reflective equilibrium. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.) The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/reflective-equilibrium/.
  19. DePaul, M. R. (2011). Methodological issues reflective equilibrium. In C. Miller (Ed.), The continuum companion to ethics (p. lxxv-cv). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  20. Douglas, H. (2013). The value of cognitive values. Philosophy of Science, 80, 796–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dutilh Novaes, C., & Reck, E. (2017). Carnapian explication, formalisms as cognitive tools, and the paradox of adequate formalization. Synthese, 194, 195–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dutilh Novaes, C., & Geerdink, L. (2017). The dissonant origins of analytic philosophy. Common sense in philosophical methodology. In S. Lapointe & C. Pincock (Eds.), Innovations in the history of analytical philosophy (pp. 69–102). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Elgin, C. Z. (1983). With reference to reference. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  24. Elgin, C. Z. (1996). Considered judgment. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Elgin, C. Z. (1997). Volume introduction. In C. Z. Elgin (Ed.). Nominalism, constructivism, and relativism in the work of Nelson Goodman (pp. xiii–xvii). New York: Garland. (= The Philosophy of Nelson Goodman. Selected Essays; Vol. 1).Google Scholar
  26. Goodman, N. (1963) [1956]. The significance of Der logische Aufbau der Welt. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (pp. 545–58). La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  27. Goodman, N. (1968). Languages of art. An approach to a theory of symbols. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  28. Goodman, N. (1972a). Problems and projects. Indianapolis/New York: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  29. Goodman, N. (1972b) [1970]. Seven strictures on similarity. In Goodman 1972a: pp. 437–446.Google Scholar
  30. Goodman, N. (1977) [1951]. The structure of appearance (3rd ed.). Dordrecht/Boston: Reidel. (1st ed. 1951. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2nd ed., 1966, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis.) Referenced as SA.Google Scholar
  31. Goodman, N. (1983) [1954]. Fact, fiction, and forecast (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Referenced as FFF.Google Scholar
  32. Goodman, N. (1990) [1941]. A study of qualities. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  33. Goodman, N. (1995). Gewißheit ist etwas ganz und gar Absurdes. Karlheinz Lüdeking sprach mit Nelson Goodman. Kunstforum, 131, 342–347.Google Scholar
  34. Griffin, J. (2008). On human rights. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Haas, G. (2015). Minimal verificationism. On the limits of knowledge. Berlin: de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hahn, S. (2000). Überlegungsgleichgewicht(e). Prüfung einer Rechtfertigungsmetapher. Freiburg/München: AlberGoogle Scholar
  37. Hanna, J. F. (1968). An explication of explication. Philosophy of Science, 35, 28–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Harper, W. L. (1981). A sketch of some recent developments in the theory of conditionals. In W. L. Harper, R. Stalnaker, & G. Pearce (Eds.), Ifs. Conditionals, belief, decision, chance, and time (pp. 3–38). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  39. Hegselmann, R. (1985). Formale Dialektik. Ein Beitrag zu einer Theorie des rationalen Argumentierens. Hamburg: Meiner.Google Scholar
  40. Hellman, G. (1977). Introduction. In SA XV–XLVII.Google Scholar
  41. Hellman, G. (1978). Accuracy and actuality. Erkenntnis, 12, 209–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hempel, C. G. (1952). Fundamentals of concept formation in empirical science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  43. Hempel, C. G. (1953). Reflections on Nelson Goodman’s the structure of appearance. The Philosophical Review, 62, 108–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hempel, C. G. (1970). Aspects of scientific explanation. Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophy of science (pp. 331–496). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  45. Hempel, C. G. (2000) [1988]. On the cognitive status and the rationale of scientific methodology. In Selected philosophical essays (pp. 199–228). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Justus, J. (2012). Carnap on concept determination. Methodology for philosophy of science. European Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2, 161–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kant, I. (1998). [1781/1787]. Critique of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kantorovich, A. (1993). Scientific discovery. Logic and tinkering. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  49. Kuhn, T. S. (1977). Objectivity, value judgment, and theory choice. In The essential tension. Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 320–39.Google Scholar
  50. Kuipers, T. A. F. (2007). Introduction. Explication in philosophy of science. In Kuipers, T. A. F. (Ed.). Handbook of the philosophy of science. Focal issues (pp. vii–xxiii). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  51. Leitgeb, H. (2017). The stability of belief. How rational belief coheres with probability. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lutz, S. (2012). Artificial language philosophy of science. European Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2, 181–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Maher, P. (2007). Explication defended. Studia Logica, 86, 331–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Maher, P. (2010). What is probability? MS. http://patrick.maher1.net/preprints/pop.pdf. Accessed April 17, 2016.
  55. Mäkinen, J., & Kakkuri-Knuuttila, M.-L. (2013). The defence of utilitarianism in early rawls. A study of methodological development. Utilitas, 25, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Martin, M. (1973). The explication of a theory. Philosophia, 3, 179–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mikhail, J. (2010). Rawls’ concept of reflective equilibrium and its original function in a theory of justice. Washington University Jurisprudence Review, 3, 1–30.Google Scholar
  58. Miller, R. B. (2000). Without intuitions. Metaphilosophy, 31, 231–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nagel, J. (2007). Epistemic intuitions. Philosophy Compass, 2, 792–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Olsson, E. J. (2015). Gettier and the method of explication. A 60 year old solution to a 50 year old problem. Philosophical Studies, 172, 57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pap, A. (1949). The philosophical analysis of natural language. Methodos, 1, 344–369.Google Scholar
  62. Pinder, M. (2017). Does experimental philosophy have a role to play in carnapian explication? Ratio,  https://doi.org/10.1111/rati.12164.
  63. Prior, A. N. (1960). A runabout inference-ticket. Analysis, 21, 38–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Quine, W. V. O. (1960). Word and object. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. Quine, W. V. O. (1980) [1951]. Two dogmas of empiricism. In From a logical point of view. Nine Logico-philosophical essays. (2nd Ed., pp. 20–46). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Rawls, J. (1950). A study in the grounds of ethical knowledge. Considered with reference to judgments on the moral worth of character. PhD dissertation, Princeton University.Google Scholar
  67. Rawls, J. (1999a) [1974–5]. The independence of moral theory. In Collected papers (pp. 286–302). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Rawls, J. (1999b) [1951]. Outline of a decision procedure for ethics. In Collected papers (pp. 1–19). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Rawls, J. (1999c). A theory of justice (revised ed.). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  70. Rawls, J. (1999d) [1955]. Two concepts of rules. In Collected papers (pp. 20–46). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Reck, E. (2012). Carnapian explication. A case study and critique. In P. Wagner (Ed.), Carnap’s ideal of explication and naturalism (pp. 96–116). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Russell, B. (1954). Mysticism and logic and other essays. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  73. Russell, B. (1993) [1914]. Our knowledge of the external world as a field for scientific method in philosophy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  74. Scanlon, T. M. (2008). Moral dimensions. Permissibility, meaning, blame. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Scheffler, I. (1954). On justification and commitment. Journal of Philosophy, 51, 180–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Shepherd, J., & Justus, J. (2015). X-Phi and Carnapian explication. Erkenntnis, 80, 381–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schupbach, J. N. (2017). Experimental explication. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 94, 672–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Stein, E. (1996). Without good reason. The Rationality debate in philosophy and cognitive science. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  79. Strawson, P. F. (1963). Carnap’s views on constructed systems versus natural languages in analytic philosophy. In P. A. Schilpp (Ed.), The philosophy of Rudolf Carnap (pp. 503–18). La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  80. Tarski, A. (1983) [1933]. The concept of truth in formalized languages. Logic, semantics, metamathematics (2nd Ed., pp. 152–278). Hackett: Indianapolis.Google Scholar
  81. Tarski, A. (2002) [1936]. On the concept of following logically. History and Philosophy of Logic, 23, 155–196.Google Scholar
  82. Tersman, F. (1993). Reflective equilibrium. An essay in moral epistemology. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell.Google Scholar
  83. Vermeulen, I. (2013). Words matter. a pragmatist view on studying words in first-order philosophy. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield. http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4759.
  84. Whitehead, A. N. (1919). An enquiry concerning the principles of natural knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for PhilosophyUniversity of BernBern 9Switzerland

Personalised recommendations