Consensus in Art and Science

  • Keith Lehrer
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 13)

The lecture is an argument for a marriage of theory and experience. It contains something old, something new, something borrowed and something true. The argument is that the dichotomy between science and art, between theory and experience is resolved and the components unified when the role of consensus in the acceptance of theory and the conception of experience is made clear. Moreover, the unification achieved brings with it a method for unifying the empiricism of Moritz Schlick1 with the consensualism of Otto Neurath.2 In earlier work, I developed a mathematical model of consensus with Carl Wagner. That work concerned the aggregation of probabilities by weights of respect assigned by members of a community to each other that converged toward a consensual probability. The convergence depended on connectedness among the members of the group in terms of positive weights. We thought of the probabilities as probabilities of scientific theories or hypotheses. The process converging toward consensus was mathematically equivalent to finding consensual weights to be assigned to members of the group that could be used as a measure of competence and expertise. The consensual weights can be applied to find consensus concerning factors other than probabilities. The use of probabilities was in fact an incidental, though formally well articulated, application of the underlying aggregation of weights to obtain convergence toward consensual weights.


Positive Weight Consensus Model Vienna Circle Scientific Meaning Semantic Security 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith Lehrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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