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Mauro Murzi's pages on Philosophy of Science - Logical Positivism
The American Period
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[3. History of Logical Positivism.]


c. The American Period.

The spread of logical positivism in the USA occurred throughout the 1930s. In 1929 and in 1932 Schlick was a Visiting Professor at Stanford, while Feigl, who immigrated to the USA in 1930, became lecturer (1931) and professor (1933) at the University of Iowa and afterwards at the University of Minnesota (1940). In 1932, the American Philosophical Association organized a discussion on the philosophy of logical positivism. In the same years several articles about logical positivism were published in American philosophical journals; these are especially noteworthy:

  • E. Nagel, "Nature and Convention" in The Journal of Philosophy, 26, 1929, in which Nagel discussed Reichenbach's interpretation of the Theory of Relativity.
  • S. Hook, "Personal Impression of Contemporary German Philosophy" in The Journal of Philosophy, 27, 1930, in which Hook presented a favorable report on logical positivism.
  • A. E. Blumberg and H. Feigl, "Logical Positivism: A New Movement in European Philosophy" in The Journal of Philosophy, 28, 1931.
  • C. I. Lewis, "Experience and Meaning" in The Philosophical Review, 43, 1934, in which Lewis criticizes the Verifiability Principle.
  • M. Schlick, "Meaning and Verification" in The Philosophical Review, 45, 1936, in which Schlick offers a reply to Lewis.

In 1936, Schlick was murdered by a Nazi student at the University of Vienna. Between 1936 and 1940 several German and Austrian philosophers immigrated to the USA: Carnap moved in 1936 to the University of Chicago, Reichenbach in 1938 to UCLA, Frank in 1938 (he became professor at Harvard University in 1939), Hempel in 1939 (City College of New York and in 1940 Queens College), and Gödel in 1940 (Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton).

Logical positivists found a favorable environment in the USA. They established solid relationships with American Pragmatism, particularly with Charles Morris, who took part in several logical positivist projects. One of them was the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, which was primarily promoted by Neurath. Although the original comprehensive project was never fully realized, many individual works were published.

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