Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology. Rudolph Carnap. [In this essay Carnap is concerned with the question of the “reality” of the sorts of what he calls “abstract. Rudolf Carnap’s article “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” deals with the implications of accepting language which refers to abstract entities. Empiricists. Carnap, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”. Major Premise: Accepting the existence abstract entities involves a pragmatic decision to use a certain linguistic.

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The choice of using real numbers instead of rational numbers or integers as coordinates is mainly due to considerations of mathematical simplicity, and is not influenced by facts of experience.

Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology

The statement “There are propositions” may ongology meant in the sense of d ; in this case it is analytic since it follows from a and even trivial. A physicist who is suspicious of abstract entities may perhaps try to declare a certain part of the language of physics as uninterpreted and uninterpretable, that part which refers to real numbers as space-time coordinates or as values of physical magnitudes, to functions, limits, etc.

It seems to me due to a neglect of this important distinction that some contemporary nominalists label the admission of variables of abstract types as “Platonism.

As far as it is a principle of accepting certain entities and not accepting others, leaving aside any ontological, phenomenalistic and nominalistic pseudo-statements, there cannot be any theoretical objection to it. Added to Semaantics index Total downloads 3of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 1of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology

If the latter condition is not fulfilled, the expression is not a statement. Let us learn from the lessons of empiriciism. Because of space, I will not go into further details Carnap discusses about the systems of integers, rational numbers and real numbers that is a little too heavy for evening philosophy anyway!

But if so, they will have to offer better arguments than they have so far. Sign in to use this feature. It is important to notice that the system of rules for the linguistic expressions ontoology the propositional framework of which only a few rules have here been briefly indicated is sufficient for the introduction of the framework.

For those who want to develop or use semantical methods, the decisive question is not the alleged ontological question of the existence of abstract entities but rather the question empirjcism the rise of abstract linguistic foms or, in technical terms, the use of variables beyond those for things or phenomenal datais expedient and fruitful for the purposes for which semantical analyses are made, viz. Logical Empiricists on Race. We may still speak and have done so of the “acceptance of the new entities” since this form of speech is customary; but one must keep in mind that this phrase does not mean empidicism us anything more than acceptance canrap the new framework, i.


The physical state of a space-time point is described either with the help of qualitative predicates, such as ‘hot’, or by ascribing numbers as values of a physical magnitude such as mass, temperature, etc. Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology.

Others object, claiming that this designation violates the basic principle of empiricism and leads back to a metaphysical ontology of the platonic kind. The critics of the use of abstract entities in semantics overlook the fundamental difference between the acceptance of a system of caarnap and an internal assertion, e. Smpiricism Boyd – – Philosophical Studies 61 1: The new entities are values of these variables; the constants are substitutable for the variables.

Carnap, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”

Find it on Scholar. Therefore the word “number” and numerical variables must not be used unless a way were found to introduce them as merely abbreviating devices, a way of translating them into the nominalistic thing language. But controversy of the external question of the ontological reality of the system of numbers continues. On the other hand, the external questions of the reality of physical space and physical time are pseudo-questions.

In physicsit is much more difficult to eliminate these dreaded entities. However, we have seen that the external question is not a theoretical question but rather the practical question whether or not to accept those linguistic forms.

It is hoped that the clarification of em;iricism issue will be useful to those who would like to accept abstract entities in their work in mathematics, physics, semantics, or any other field; it may help them to overcome nominalistic scruples. But it concerns a matter of degree; therefore a formulation in the form “real or not?

Epistemology in 20th Century Philosophy Carnap: Unless and until they supply a clear cognitive interpretation, we are justified in our suspicion that their question is a pseudo-question, that is, one disguised in the form of a emporicism question while empiricisk fact it is a non-theoretical; in the present case it is the practical problem whether or not to incorporate into the language the new linguistic forms which constitute the framework of numbers.

They emphasize a distinction between the data that which is immediately given in consciousness, e. Therefore our judgment must be that they have not succeeded in giving to the external question and to the possible answers any cognitive content.


They do, of course, not mean the internal question; the affirmative answer to this question is analytic and trivial and too obvious for doubt or denial, as we have seen. Let us consider as an example the simplest kind of entities dealt with in the everyday language: Generally speaking, if someone accepts a framework for a certain kind of entities, then he is bound to admit the entities as possible designata.

The acceptance cannot be judged as being either true or false because it is not an assertion. We have to make the choice whether or not to accept and use the forms of expression in the framework in question.

Some nominalists regard the acceptance of abstract entities as a kind of superstition or myth, populating the world with fictitious or at least dubious entities, analogous to the belief in centaurs or demons. Again, Carnap feels that the questions of the reality of physical space and physical time are pseudo-questions. The term “designation” is used in the present article in a neutral way; it may be understood as referring to the name-relation or to the intension relation or to the extension-relation or to any similar relations used in other semantical methods.

This is analogous to the procedure of some laymen who by correctly criticizing the ether picture or other visualizations of physical theories, thought they had refuted those theories. Rudolf Carnap – – Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 You must accept these as true statements if you accept the framework of numbers.

Here again there are internal questions, e. The restriction to rational coordinates would not be in conflict with any experimental knowledge we have, because the result of any measurement is a rational number.

Above all, it must not be interpreted as referring to an assumption, belief, or assertion of “the reality of the entities. But this must not be interpreted as if it meant his acceptance of a belief in the reality of the thing world; there is no such belief or assertion or assumption, because it is not a theoretical question.

Two Kinds of a Priori Infallibility.