Taking the Measure of Carnap’s Philosophical Engineering: Metalogic as Metrology

  • Alan Richardson
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Scholars of Rudolf Carnap’s philosophy have increasingly found themselves moved to express their understanding of his philosophical project in terms such as ‘linguistic engineering’ or ‘conceptual engineering’. This mode of expression has been used by Richard Creath for about twenty years in his discussions of Carnap.1 More recently, A.W. Carus’s Carnap, whose signal achievement is the method of explication of concepts, seems to be importantly imbued with a spirit of philosophical engineering (Carus, 2007). Indeed, Carus’s insistence on reading Carnap as engaged in an Enlightenment project is tied, in the first instance, to an understanding of the place of engineering in the French Enlightenment (Carus, 2007, pp. 14ff). Notwithstanding this sort of convergence of views on the importance of conceptual engineering for Carnap, there has been little agreement about the specific nature of Carnap’s commitment to engineering. Indeed, there has been little curiosity about what engineering is, how it has been theorized, or where Carnap’s understanding of engineering might have come from. Carus, for example, provides little evidence that Carnap was aware of, or inspired by, the group of French engineers that Carus himself evokes in discussing Carnap’s views. Nor is there any clear sense as to how it would be best to frame this engineering perspective within an explanatory narrative of Carnap’s significance in twentieth-century philosophy.


Analytic Philosophy Engineering Perspective Logical Empiricism Vienna Circle Philosophical Project 
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  • Alan Richardson

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