Origins of and Influences on Nomologico-Deductive Analysis
Notes on the origins of Nomologico-Deductive Analysis and on various contributory influences.
Ancient Influences
Further Factors
Proximate Origins

Ancient Influences

The third important influence which has contributed to this method is academic scepticism in the manner of Carneades. In this conception the emphasis is on the elimination of dogma, and the recognition that pyrrhonean scepticism, and also positivism and many other strands in philosophical thought, are tainted by negative dogma.

In Carneades, alongside the recognition that nothing can be known with absolute certainty, we find the desire to recognise that some ideas nevertheless seem more plausible than others, and that pragmatics depend upon recognising, refining and acting upon these differences in ranking the plausibility and applicability of different conceptions of (theories about, models of) the world.

This leads us to the idea that rather than deciding which theory is true, we should analyse the relative merits of alternative theories (and at a meta-level, of different ways of comparing theories). Ditto for methods and their underpinning conceptual frameworks.

Further Factors

The method arises from my attempts (in "Metaphysical Positivism") to come up with the best way of moving forward from the kind of analytic philosophy found in Rudolf Carnap's work.

Carnap conceived of his methodological work (initially that on logical syntax, later primarily of semantics) as formulating a proposal about how philosophy might be done "scientifically" and possibly about how science might be done more rigourously. This is to say, that much of involved definitions of concepts and descriptions of methods, and that these are proposals to be accepted or rejected on a pragmatic basis rather than theories which might be true or false.

In my work on metaphysical positivism I had thought in similar terms.

However, metaphysical positivism was intended to be a purely analytic philosophy and the idea of putting forward a proposal takes one outside of a purely analytic stance.


Harvey Friedman's 60th birthday conference attracted my attention and I took a look at his future directions, in particular at his "Concept Calculus", which because of its apparently exclusive focus on the proof theoretic strenght of theories which formalise concepts seemed to be too narrow. I thought about what kind of concept calculus I might be willing to take more seriously, and this lead to me thinking about various kinds of comparisons which can be made between concepts or theories. Thinking about these comparisons in the context of my problem of how to make metaphysical positivism more strictly analytic it seemed natural that rather than proposing a specific conceptual framework and analytic method, I should be exposing the options and making objective comparisons between them.

Eventually that lead me here.

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