On Deductive Methods
A description of the evolution of my ideas about methods involving deduction.
Metaphysical Positivism began in a spirit not far removed from that of Carnap, and may therefore best be described in relation to his philosophy.
Some Intellectual Autobiography
My Beginnings

I learnt about computers and logic before I read any philosophy, and among the earliest works of philosophy I read were Russell's "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy" and Ayer's "Language Truth and Logic". I had spent 5 years working in the Computer Industry before studying mathematics and philosophy as an undergraduate, and by the time I began as an undergraduate I wanted to do the proofs "formally", which was just about possible for some of the earlier course material. Not so for philosophy of course.

Because of my prior exposure to Ayer, I think I assumed that philosophical claims were supposed to be analytic. Clearly this isn't the case for claims about the meanings of natural languages, but then that was a kind of philosophy that I sought to avoid (thinking "verbal disputes" philosophically barren). How I managed to get through joint honours in Maths and Philosophy in the seventies with that kind of attitude is a mystery. Not without some difficulties en-route. As an undergraduate I had relatively little exposure to Carnap (possibly only "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology").

In truth the greater miracle is that I managed with my very poor memory, slow reading speed, and worst of all, inability to read far through something I found sufficiently unsatisfactory.

There was no possibility of my doing post-grad philosophy, for I was too far out of step with what philosophy was then expected to be. What I wanted to do was work on the mechanisation of Mathematics, i.e. work contributing to the technology supporting the formalisation of mathematics. For personal reasons I did not stay the course, and instead resumed work in Computing.
Deduction in Metaphysical Positivism - I
Metaphysical Positivism began in a spirit not far removed from that of Carnap, and may therefore best be described in relation to his philosophy.
Points of Similarity

The main point of similarity which is of present relevance is that Metaphysical Positivism, like Carnap's philosophy, centres around a conception of philosophical analysis which is logical in character, in which the logic yields truths which are analytic.

The analytic methods, the languages which they deploy, the conceptual framework in which the methods are articulated, are presented not as dogmas, or even as factual assertions, but rather as proposals to be adopted on a pragmatic basis. One these proposals are accepted, much follows as of logical necessity.


Whereas Carnap conceived of philosophy as a whole as being analytic, Metaphysical Positivism has been, ab initio, two steps removed from this position.

Firstly, it is presented as an analytic philosophy, without prejudice to what other kinds of philosophy there may be.

Secondly, the method of logical analysis which is central to the philosophy is proposed not as exhausting even the whole of philosophical analysis, but rather as one primarily for isolating and rigourising its deductive part.

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