Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Richardson on Carus on Carnap

Richardson has a review in NDPR of Carus' recent book on Carnap. It is fairly sympathetic, but I think it strikes the right note of skepticism about Carus' attempts to extract an Enlightenment project from Carnap's work that will not only rescue some notion of explication in the service of clarifying scientific knowledge, but will also relate scientific knowledge to normative disputes in ethics and politics. As I read the book, Carus does an excellent job clarifying Carnap's moves towards a defensible picture of explication, but the link to values is still hard to make out. As Richardson puts it,
Carus's book leaves, that is to say, more to be done to specify and implement the project he announces. One can only hope that he continues to work in this vein and to inspire others to do so also. I am not convinced that what is at stake in interpreting Carnap's philosophy is ultimately our Western way of life, but, given the well-known social projects of the Vienna Circle, it would not be surprising if some aspects of interpreting Carnap's project aided in our philosophical understanding of our own social projects. I hope this review has given some indication of the multiple levels on which Carus's book is worth engaging philosophically. The book will be central to the continuing detailed scholarly discussions of Carnap's philosophy. More than this, it will, I hope, help raise to consciousness several larger issues regarding the social import of key projects within analytic philosophy.

No comments: