Decidability and Cognitive Significance in Carnap

  • Zeljko Loparić
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 172)


We find in Carnap first a strict criterion and later different liberalized criteria for cognitive significance. The strict, constructivist criterion amounts to a set of general, direct and deterministic decision procedures for certain (infinite) classes of empirical questions. We call these procedures general because they (supposedly) give answers to all the members of the class of questions for which they are proposed, direct because they apply to questions themselves or to equivalent questions, deterministic because the questions answered are what- questions or yes-or-no-questions and not how- probable-questions. The strict criterion received alternatively semantic (phenomenalistic and physicalistic) and syntactic (linguistic, formal) formulations. These alternatives reveal Wittgensteinian (and later Tarskian) and Hilbertian influences, respectively. But the different formulations notwithstanding, Carnap1 s strict criterion never ceased to be a set of procedures of decision. It can safely be interpreted as an attempt to realize in the domain of empirical questions the old rationalist idea of a universal effective method for solving problems.


Decision Procedure Strict Criterion Significance Criterion Descriptive Language Semantic Formulation 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

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  • Zeljko Loparić

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