Kant in the news!

Most of you are probably vaguely aware that Kant turned 300 on Monday, and a few of you have perhaps even heard that the German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave a speech commemorating the occasion. Now I’m not a great Scholz fan, for the most part (who is? — he and his coalition have reached lows in the polls that even Biden and Trump can only dream of), but I have to admit that this speech is really first-rate. If you read about it in the news anywhere, you probably assumed it was the usual politician thing — bumbling around trying to sound as if he had some idea what he was talking about and coming out sounding like a complete fake. Admittedly, that’s what usually happens. And you can’t imagine an American (or perhaps even a British) politician trying anything like this. But I have to admit that this speech really works. It lends weight and credibility to stuff that Scholz has been saying constantly (and too repetitively, too phlegmatically) since February 2022; the invocation of Kant is appropriate and measured and not at all weithergeholt (as they say here). So it’s not only unusually educated for a politician, it’s also rhetorically effective and politically smart. I urge you to read the whole thing.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an English translation yet, and haven’t had time to provide one myself. If anyone finds a decent one, could they let me know? I’ll link that as well. (Or if enough people ask, and I still can’t find one, I might even translate it.)

A misguided critique of Carnapian explication

Back again, finally, from the many distractions of the past year.  With any luck I’ll now be able to catch up on the long list of subjects that has accumulated in the mean time.  I was already way behind before this long absence, and can’t catch up all at once.  But let’s get started again.

I finally gave in at some point last year and bought Ontology after Carnap (OUP 2016, ed. by Stephan Blatti and Sandra Lapointe).  There are some interesting things in it, that I will be commenting on occasionally over the next couple of months if my time doesn’t get away from me again.  Right now I want to focus on Appendix A (“Epistemic vs. Pragmatic Interpretations of the Methodology of Intensions”) of a paper by Stephen Biggs and Jessica Wilson, which is just over two pages long (pp. 98-100) and claims to undermine Carnapian explication. Continue reading

Reflections on St. Sylvester’s Eve

Has professionalization been good for philosophy? When people ask this question (usually to answer firmly in the negative), they think of logical positivism as a kind of turning point, at which philosophy (programmatically, at least) became “technical.” They remember the Vienna Circle’s pronouncements about breaking the big, unmanageable problems down into subunits it makes better sense to address, and about the corresponding submersion of the individual thinker into the collective endeavor of (unified) science. But, such critics object, did Kant’s hope of putting philosophy “auf den sicheren Weg einer Wissenschaft” (which the logical empiricists were trying to realize) even make any sense? Isn’t this a category mistake?

I agree with this criticism but I don’t think logical empiricism is to blame for what has happened to philosophy. Continue reading

How Carnap sees the task of philosophy, according to Stone

An interesting paper by Abraham D. Stone on Carnap’s and Heidegger’s different, though in some ways symmetrical responses to Husserl (still unpublished, as far as I know), concludes with some pronouncements on Carnap’s conception of the task of philosophy that appear superficially plausible but don’t in the end quite cohere: Continue reading

Carnap on Value Concepts

This transcription of a shorthand text from the Carnap Papers at Pitt (Archive of Scientific Philosophy) will remain its only publication in its original “German” (actually a mishmash of German and English, in vocabulary as well as syntax and word order); the journal in which my translation of it into English and a brief introduction will appear considered the possibility of publishing the original as well, but then thought better of it.   Continue reading