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 following three constructs are included within this framework: In spite of this, the controversy concerning the external question of the ontological reality of the system of numbers continues.

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 theoretical question while in fact it is em;iricism 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.

Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology. —

Second, the introduction of variables of the new type. In the case of mathematics some empiricists try to find a way out by treating the whole of mathematics as a mere calculus, a formal system for which no interpretation is given, or can be given.

This article has no associated abstract. A true answer is either factually true, using empirical methods of analysis, or analytic, using logical methods. The answers may be found either by purely logical methods or lntology empirical methods, depending empirifism whether the framework is a logical or a factual one.

Rudolf Carnap – – Bobbs-Merrill. This esmantics is usually carried out, of course, as a matter of habit rather than a deliberate, rational procedure. Thus it is clear that if someone accepts the framework of numbers, then he must acknowledge c and b and hence a as true statements.

He stresses that no theoretical justification is needed for our linguistic frameworks because they do not imply a belief or assertion. Find it on Scholar.

Accordingly, the mathematician is said to speak not about numbers, functions and infinite classes but merely about meaningless symbols and formulas manipulated according to given formal rules. Generally speaking, if someone accepts a framework for a certain kind of entities, then he is bound to admit the entities as possible designata.

Rudolf Carnap, Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology – PhilPapers

Again, Empirocism feels that the questions of the reality of physical space and physical time are pseudo-questions. We have to make the choice whether or not to accept and use the forms of expression in the framework in question. Sign in to use this feature. After the new forms are introduced into the language, it is possible to formulate with their help internal questions and possible answers to them. The problem of the legitimacy and the status of abstract entities has recently again led to controversial discussions in connection with semantics.


The decision of accepting the thing language, although itself not of empiricsim cognitive nature, will nevertheless usually be influenced by theoretical knowledge, just like any other deliberate decision concerning the acceptance of linguistic or other rules. Recently the problem of abstract entities has arisen again in connection with semantics, the theory of meaning and truth. In fact, of course, the semanticist does not in the least assert or imply that the abstract entities to which he refers can be experienced as immediately given either by sensation or by a kind of rational intuition.

The fact that no such reference occurs in the existential statements here, shows that propositions are not linguistic entities.

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 whether 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.

Results of observations are evaluated according to certain rules as confirming or disconfirming evidence for possible answers. Our choice of certain features, although itself not theoretical, is suggested by theoretical knowledge, either logical or factual. Added to PP index Total downloads 2, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 1, of 2, How can I increase my downloads? The system of propositions. Here again a new type of variables is introduced, expressions substitutable for them e.

The system of real numbers. Linguistic Convention and Worldly Fact: An assertion of this kind would indeed be very dubious psychology.

The acceptance or rejection of abstract linguistic forms, just as the acceptance or rejection of any other linguistic forms in any branch of science, will finally be decided by their efficiency as instruments, the ratio of the results achieved to the amount and complexity of the efforts required. And the same holds for references to abstract entities as designata in semantics. Therefore the introduction of such constants is not to be regarded as an essential step in the introduction of the framework.


This is one of the main tasks of a pure, as distinguished from a psychological, epistemology. The latter introduction, they believe, is legitimate only if it can be justified by an ontological insight supplying an affirmative answer to the question of reality.

The third may mean “There are propositions” – which can be analytic, but if meant empiriciem an external sense, it is, according to Carnap, non-cognitive. Some nominalists label carnwp admission of variables of abstract types as “Platonism.

However, if we empuricism at the basic anti-metaphysical and pro-scientific attitude of most nominalists and the same holds for many materialists onto,ogy realists in the modern sensedisregarding their occasional pseudo-theoretical formulations, then it is, of course, true to say that the Vienna Circle was much closer to those philosophers than to their opponents. Generally speaking, any expression of the form “‘. Semntics in 20th Century Philosophy. On the other hand, the decision to use three rather than two or four spatial coordinates is strongly suggested, but still not forced upon us, by the result of common observations.

It may be meant as an internal question; then the affirmative answer is, of course, analytic and trivial.

After all, semantics in the empirocism sense is still in the initial phases of its development, and we must be prepared for possible fundamental changes in methods.

Within the field of semanticsthe theory of meaning and truth in language forms, some declare that certain expressions designate certain entities, some of which are concrete material things, and some of which are abstract entities. But this demand for theoretical justification is wrongly applied to the acceptance of a system of entities.

Now we may introduce new variables, say ” f ,” ” g ,” etc. The fact that they regard a semantical method involving abstract entities not merely as doubtful and carap wrong, but as manifestly absurd, preposterous and grotesque, and that they show a deep horror and indignation against this method, is perhaps to be explained by a misinterpretation of the kind described.

This holds, for example, for the sentence:. Science Logic and Mathematics.