protocol statements

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(German Protokollsätze)

The basic statements in the logical positivist analysis of knowledge, thought of as reporting the unvarnished and pre-theoretical deliverance of experience: what it is like here, now, for me. The central controversy concerned whether it was legitimate to couch them in terms of public objects and their qualities or whether a less theoretically committing, purely phenomenal content could be found. The former option makes it hard to regard them as truly basic, whereas the latter option makes it difficult to see how they can be incorporated into objective science. The controversy is often thought to have been closed in favour of a public version by the private language argument. Difficulties at this point led the logical positivists to abandon the notion of an epistemological foundation altogether, and to flirt with the coherence theory of truth. It is widely accepted that trying to make the connection between thought and experience through basic sentences depends on an untenable ‘myth of the given’. See also foundationalism.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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