The Logical Empiricists

Michael Stöltzner

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191577246 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Logical Empiricists

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  • Metaphysics
  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science


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Causation was a central theme for the movement of Logical Empiricism (LE); during its classical European phase — the 1920s and 1930s — and beyond. It would not become one of LE's alleged ‘dogmas’, unlike verificationism and the analytic–synthetic distinction. Rather, the topic of causation paradigmatically exhibits two important features of LE. First, the movement was intimately connected to the scientific developments of the day; its representatives tried to accommodate their analyses to those developments rather than insist on an unassailable philosophical outlook come what may. Second, their joint allegiance to scientific empiricism and modern logic, and the common agenda to replace traditional metaphysics by a scientific world conception, cannot conceal the fact that the members of LE stemmed from different intellectual backgrounds and pursued, the manifold cross-references notwithstanding, original trains of thought. Hence they reacted in different ways to the scientific revolutions that occurred during the heyday of LE, quantum theory foremost.

Keywords: causation; Logical Empiricism; scientific empiricism; modern logic; metaphysics; scientific revolutions

Article.  9150 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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