Looking back, Reichenbach’s views about knowledge and meaning seem in most respects entirely typical of those of empiricists of the day. His epistemological differences with Carnap, C. I. Lewis and others seem far less significant than the agreements they shared. If Reichenbach is distinctive, it is because his epistemological concerns seem to have had their source in careful analyses of innovations in physical theory, and because his developing views were constantly buttressed with physical examples. It is this interplay of epistemological doctrine and scientific theory that makes Reichenbach’s work especially appealing, vivid and forceful. Reichenbach’s epistemological views are, by now, unpopular enough that they scarcely need criticism, and even though I will criticize them that is not my chief purpose. My purpose is to provide a perspective on the interaction of Reichenbach’s epistemological doctrines and his analyses of scientific inference, a perspective which I hope will reveal something both new and true about the problems that motivated Reichenbach’s work. It is exactly because Reichenbach’s views are in many ways typical of empiricism present and past that the enterprise is worthwhile; the points I shall make about Reichenbach could equally be made about Carnap, Lewis, or any number of contemporary writers.
KeywordsObservation Statement Theoretical Principle Theory Testing Reference Class Ternary Relation
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