Joel Katzav PhD

September 12th 2022  until January 13th, 2023

Affiliation: University of Queensland (UQ)

Research for a study about:

Speculative philosophy of science and logical positivism

American, speculative philosophy of science developed substantially in the early decades of the twentieth century, prior to the arrival of the logical positivists in America. Little has been written about this part of the history of philosophy of science. I aim to compare aspects of pre-logical empiricist, American philosophy of science with philosophy of science as it developed in the wake of logical positivism. I also aim to learn philosophy of science from my comparative exercise. In the first part of my project, I will compare the fruitfulness of the pre-logical positivist approach to philosophy of science with the logical positivist one. In the second part of the project, I will consider a philosophy of science-based critique of analytic philosophy developed by the pre-logical empiricist, speculative philosopher of science Grace A. de Laguna.


Speculative philosophy of science and its influence on logical empiricism

Date:  13 October 2022

Time: 3–5pm (CET)

Online Plattform: Hybrid | Zoom | APSE-CEU-IVC Talks

Venue: NIG


No registered accounts are required, it's enough to click on the link and enter your name. Chrome or Firefox browsers work best.


I provide a sketch of speculative philosophy of science during the period 1900-1930, including of some key figures, of its dominant theoretical and methodological framework and of some of the key topics that were examined within this framework, topics such as the nature of scientific explanation, the methodology of research programs, the role of idealisation in science, the sociology of science and speculative metaphysics of science. I further suggest that, while many of these topics were inherited by, and even helped to make, logical empiricism when its advocates later arrived in America, it neglected key topics, especially regarding idealisation, sociology and metaphysics. Finally, I suggest that this neglect was due to a logical empiricist dogma–specifically, epistemic conservatism–and might help to explain its quick demise as well, perhaps, as some of the persistent problems within analytic philosophy of science.


I have written two (very hefty) papers during my time at the Vienna Circle Institute. The first of these is about the philosopher of science Grace A. de Laguna and her 1909 critique of analytic philosophy. This paper will appear as a target article in the Asian Journal of Philosophy. The second paper is on twentieth century speculative philosophy of science and its contribution to the development of analytic philosophy of science in America. I have, in addition, had the opportunity to give talks in Bern, Tilburg and Pittsburgh during this period. Work at the Institute itself has been pleasant. Sabine and Zarah have been very helpful, and the other visiting fellows have been a pleasure to talk and work with.