[hist-analytic] Metaphysical Positivism v. Critical Rationalism (Jones v. Frederick)

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu Sep 17 03:54:10 EDT 2009

I have a page on my web-site comparing metaphysical and logical
positivism (Jones v. Carnap) at:


This was written a long time ago and I need to review it and
update it, so if anyone has any comments on it I would be glad
to have them so I can take them into account.

I don't think there is anything on my site about Critical Rationalism,
and I think its time I remedied that by writing a page comparing
Metaphysical Positivism with Critical Rationalism.

So I am also interested to hear what anyone thinks on that topic.

My recent exposure to Critical Rationalism has mainly been in brief
engagements with Danny Frederick.
These have been brief, because I have not found Danny willing to
entertain what I mean rather than to criticise what he would have
meant by my words if he had uttered them.
This I consider to be a manifestation of what I now call
"terminological dogmatism".

It seems from some of the things Danny has written on hist-analytic
that he considers himself to be a sceptic.
I also consider myself to be a sceptic, but find most scepticism,
including that of Danny, to be tainted by negative dogmas.

My other recent exposure to Critical Rationalism has been through
a partial reading of material by W W Bartley from:

Part III. Rationality, Criticism, and Logic

My outstanding impression of this work is that it is too rationalistic.
Bartley seems to me to make sustained attempts to establish conclusively
by apparently deductive means conclusions which cannot in principle
be so established.
If this were typical of critical rationalism then it would show
a weak appreciation of some of the important insights on the limitations
of deduction which are exposed at the root of positivism in the writings
of David Hume.

As well as having some kind of scepticism in common with critical
rationalists (a very tenuous connection), I share an appreciation
of some kind of rationality.
David Hume's philosophy was useful to romantics opposed to the
rationalism of the enlightenment and it seems to me that
a positivistically acceptable rationalism must be founded in
an acute appreciation of the limits of deduction, which I suspect
may be deficient in Critical Rationalism.

Roger Jones

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