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. Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology. Rudolf Carnap. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 (): Reprinted in the Supplement to. Meaning and.

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We apply the term ‘proposition’ to any entities of a certain logical type, namely, those that may be expressed by declarative sentences in a language” p. They do, of course, not mean the internal question; the affirmative answer to this question is analytic and trivial and too obvious for doubt or denial, as we have seen.

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 a 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.

The demand for a theoretical justification, correct in the case of internal assertions, is sometimes wrongly applied to the acceptance of a system of entities.

Therefore the word “number” and numerical variables must not be used unless a way were found to introduce them as merely abbreviating devices, a way of translating them into the nominalistic thing language. 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.

Walid Saba – manuscript. Let us consider as an example the simplest kind of entities dealt with in the epiricism language: The belief criticized is thus a case of hypostatization, i.

Rudolf Carnap, Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology – PhilPapers

It is therefore not correct to classify the members of the Vienna Circle as nominalists, as is sometimes done. The acceptance of a new kind of entities is represented in the language by the introduction of a framework of new forms of expressions to be used according to a new set of rules.

Further, the general term “proposition” is introduced. Some names of particular entities may already occur in the language before the introduction of the new framework e.

Therefore nobody who meant the question “Are there numbers? If, however, a reader should find these explanations more puzzling than clarifying, or even unacceptable, he may disregard them” p. 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.


But they are not names, there are no entities designated by them. Therefore the answers are here analytic, i. While ‘Fido’ designates the dog Fido, ‘red’ and ‘five’ are not names and do not designate anything. Although characterizations of these or similar kinds are, strictly speaking, unnecessary, they may nevertheless be practically useful. In a semantical meaning analysis certain expressions in a language are often said to designate or name or denote or signify or refer to certain extra-linguistic entities.

Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology

If the latter condition is not fulfilled, the expression is not a statement. Empiricism and State-Space Semantics. In contrast to the former questions, this question is raised neither by the man in the street nor by scientists, but only by philosophers.

But if this conception leads to the view that other semantlcs or scientists who accept abstract entities thereby assert or imply their occurrence as immediate empiricixm, then such a view must be rejected as a misinterpretation.

John Stuart Mill, Frege, and Russell. In physicsit is much more difficult to eliminate these dreaded entities. Science Logic and Mathematics.

Internal questions are here, in general, empirical questions to be answered by empirical investigations. Therefore the introduction of such constants is not to be regarded as an essential step ontoloty the introduction of the framework.

empiircism A question of this kind may be either empirical or logical; accordingly a true answer is either factually true or analytic. Thus the question of the admissibility of entities of a certain type or of abstract entities in general as designata is reduced to the question of the acceptability of the linguistic framework for those entities. With these new forms in the language, you can now devise empirical or logical questions and possible answers to them.

A nominalistic opponent says there are no numbers.

The ane for this system is constructed by introducing into the language new expressions with suitable rules: An alleged statement of the reality of the system of entities is a pseudo-statement without cognitive content.

Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology.

Carnap, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”

Thus it is clear that the acceptance of a linguistic framework must not be regarded as implying a metaphysical doctrine concerning the reality of the entities in question. 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. This is one of the main tasks of a pure, as distinguished from a psychological, crnap. Those who raise the question of the reality of the thing world itself have perhaps in mind not a theoretical question as their formulation seems to suggest, but rather a practical question, a matter of a practical decision concerning the structure of our language.


After some more detailed discussions concerning the relation between propositions and facts, and the nature of false propositions, I added: Any empiicism explanations as to the swmantics of the propositions i. In order to understand more clearly the nature of these and related problems, it is above all necessary to recognize a fundamental distinction between two kinds of questions concerning the existence or reality of entities.

He cites Ernest Nagel who in asked for “evidence relevant for affirming with warrant that there are such entities as infinitesimals ejpiricism propositions. As far as it is a principle of accepting certain entities and not accepting others, leaving aside any ontological, phenomenalistic and nominalistic pseudo-statements, there cannot be any theoretical objection to it.

Thus the logical characteristics of this framework are sufficiently clear while many internal questions, i. Some empiricists object to abstract entities as designata as in these examples: A Note on Ontology and Ordinary Language.

It may be meant as an internal question; then the affirmative answer is, of course, analytic and trivial. The acceptance or rejection of abstract linguistic ontplogy, 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 semanrics results achieved empirkcism the amount and complexity of the efforts required.

In physics it is more difficult to shun the suspected entities because the language of physics serves for the communication of reports and predictions and hence cannot be taken as a mere calculus. It is important to notice that the system of rules for the linguistic expressions of the propositional framework of which only a few rules have xemantics been briefly indicated is sufficient for the introduction of the framework.

Sign in to use this feature. However, we have seen that the external question is not a theoretical question but rather the practical onhology whether or not to accept those linguistic forms.

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