Regrounding the Unworldly: Pluralism and Politics in Carnap’s Philosophy of Logic (Noah Friedman-Biglin)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 25th from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) via Zoom for a talk by Noah Friedman-Biglin (San José State University).

Title: Regrounding the Unworldly: Pluralism and Politics in Carnap’s Philosophy of Logic

Abstract: The locus classicus of logical pluralism – that is, the view that there is more than on logic, properly so called – since the earliest days of analytic philosophy, can be found in Rudolf Carnap’s ‘principle of tolerance’. Clarifying the principle of tolerance is the focus of this first section of this paper. I will argue that the principle should be understood as widely as possible, and thus we will see that Carnap’s tolerance is a very radical view. In section two, I discuss the motivations Carnap had for his pluralism, and argue that they are based in the Vienna Circle’s “Scientific World-Conception” — a platform of philosophical commitments which set the direction for the Circle’s philosophical investigations as well as a program of social change. What emerges from this discussion is the often-ignored relationship between his logical pluralism and his political views. In short, I will argue that the radical quality of his tolerance is due to these political commitments. In section three, I examine the reasons why this connection is not very well-known. I will argue that the political situation in the United States in the aftermath of World War 2 created conditions where it was dangerous to explicitly link scholarly work and politics, and discuss the reasons that Carnap might have had for distancing himself from – or at least de-emphasizing – the political foundations of his views.

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