[hist-analytic] Reichenbach and Synthetic A Priori

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Tue Sep 29 16:25:33 EDT 2009

I just want to clarify a question I raised. In an earlier post I alluded to what I take to be the fact that Reichenbach's understanding of the place of prediction and the place of congruence serve the purpose that Kant had in mind in requiring synthetic a priori principles in science, but my skepticism was in the suggestion that one can have synthetic a priori propositions which are constructive but not apodictic. This is, yet, another instance, where if I'm right, text is important. So, e.g., we have Reichenbach saying: 

"...we must characterize the epistemological position of the principles of coordination. They are equivalent to Kant's synthetic a priori judgments." (The Theory of Relativity and A Priori Knowledge, U of California, 1965, p. 47. 

Note that it is the principles of coordination which are equivalent; their "position" epistemologically, as well, perhaps. This is what I was suggesting with the remarks on congruence and predication. I did not mean that "coordination" (congruence, prediction etc) were, themselves, synthetic a priori. If there is any disagreement here it is how we are to view Reichenbach. I regard him as logical empiricist of a very orthodox sort; original but orthodox in many ways, at least; whereas the alternative view is to see him as a theorizing about the history of science, after the fashion of Kuhn and those related to the historical approach. This can be read in, assuming a struggle, I suppose; but even if you can eek out a view of scientific progress it is minimal. Clearly, he was interested in the development of science but understanding this process is nothing about which I believe he had much interest as an independent pusuit or primary objective. 


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