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On the Metatheoretical Nature of Carnap's Philosophy

Bryan G. Norton
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 44, No. 1 (Mar., 1977), pp. 65-85
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187100
Page Count: 21
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On the Metatheoretical Nature of Carnap's Philosophy
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Abstract

Rudolf Carnap defended two quite different critiques of traditional philosophy: in addition to the much discussed verifiability criterion, he also proposed a critique based upon "formalizability." Formalizability rests upon the principle of tolerance plus an acceptance of a linguistic methodology. Standard interpreters of Carnap (e.g., [7] and [8]) assume that the principle of tolerance (and, hence, formalizability) gains its argumentative support from verificationism. Carnap, in fact, kept the two critiques separate and independent. Indeed, verificationism is even, in spirit, inconsistent with tolerance. If the formalizability approach is emphasized, traditional metaphysics is reconstructed, not banished. Philosophical disputes remain rationally decidable, but metatheoretical in nature. Two results follow: Carnap's metaphilosophy cannot be rejected merely on the basis of rejections of verifiability. Second, Carnap's conclusion that all philosophy concerns language provides no reason for despair.

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