Neurath and Carnap on Semantics

  • A. W. CarusEmail author
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 336)


Carnap is still often portrayed as a “representationalist.” While the genealogy of this prejudice may not actually go back to Neurath’s response to Carnap’s embrace of Tarskian semantics, there is a continuity of motivation and rhetoric. However, based on a reading of the later Neurath-Carnap correspondence reproduced in this volume, it would appear that the apparent dispute between them over semantics really was largely terminological, with certain differences of emphasis amplified by personality differences and the long interruption of personal contact due to the war. Their conceptions of a language of science can be reconciled. Carnap was neither a representationalist nor an anti-representationalist nor an inferentialist (though it may appear that he can legitimately be portrayed as any of these), since ultimately to embrace one of these positions is to endorse an “order of explanation” or ontological primacy, and Carnap rejected ontology.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLudwig-Maximilians UniversitätMunichGermany

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