From Poincare to Quine
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- Author: Yemima Ben-Menahem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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The daring idea that convention - human decision - lies at the root both of necessary truths and much of empirical science reverberates through twentieth-century philosophy, constituting a revolution comparable to Kant's Copernican revolution. This book provides a comprehensive study of Conventionalism. Drawing a distinction between two conventionalist theses, the under-determination of science by empirical fact, and the linguistic account of necessity, Yemima Ben-Menahem traces the evolution of both ideas to their origins in Poincaré's geometric conventionalism. She argues that the radical extrapolations of Poincaré's ideas by later thinkers, including Wittgenstein, Quine, and Carnap, eventually led to the decline of conventionalism. This book provides a fresh perspective on twentieth-century philosophy. Many of the major themes of contemporary philosophy emerge in this book as arising from engagement with the challenge of conventionalism.Read more
- First comprehensive study of the conventionalism position
- Argues that 'truth by convention' is a misleading idiom; conventionalists have not advocated the view of truth by convention
- Argues that the ambition of conventionalists to extend the scope of convention eventually led to its demise
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Review of the hardback: '… a wonderfully detailed look at the history of conventionalism.' Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
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- Date Published: February 2011
- format: Adobe eBook Reader
- isbn: 9780511279904
- availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
Table of Contents
1. Overview: the varieties of conventionalism
2. Origins: Poincaré and Duhem and convention
3. Relativity: from 'experience and geometry' to 'geometry and experience'
4. Implicit definition
5. 'Unlimited possibilities': Carnap on convention
6. Metaphor and argument: Quine on convention
7. Wittgenstein: from conventionalism to Iconoclasm.
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