Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Logical empiricism

core definition

Logical empiricism offers the view that truth is logically determined within a closed system either by definition or by deduction on the one hand, or by induction from facts on the other.

explanatory context

The induction of logical empiriciam must (as the name suggests) be empirical, there being no valid pre-givens upon which any derivation of proof can be made, i.e. no a-priori truths. Thus all knowledge is knowledge based on, and cast in the mould of, immediate experience.


This sophistication of inductivism, while providing for theoretical priority in developing the 'closed system' ignores its role in the synthetic inductive process, assuming the possibility of empirical, a-theoretical validation. The role of theory was limited, solely to the construction of conventionalist systems of ordering phenomena.


Logical empiricism grew out of a synthesis of Mach's empiricist and Poincare's conservative conventionalist critiques of mechanistic science.

analytical review

According to Creath (2011) in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy::

Logical empiricism is a philosophic movement rather than a set of doctrines, and it flourished in the 1920s and 30s in several centers in Europe and in the 40s and 50s in the United States. It had several different leaders whose views changed considerably over time. Moreover, these thinkers differed from one another, often sharply. Because logical empiricism is here construed as a movement rather than as doctrine, there is probably no important position that all logical empiricists shared — including, surprisingly enough, empiricism. And while most participants in the movement were empiricists of one form or another, they disagreed on what the best form of empiricism was and on the cognitive status of empiricism. What held the group together was a common concern for scientific methodology and the important role that science could play in reshaping society. Within that scientific methodology the logical empiricists wanted to find a natural and important role for logic and mathematics and to find an understanding of philosophy according to which it was part of the scientific enterprise....

Some major participants in th Movement...

A.J. Ayer (1910–1989)...Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970)...Walter Dubislav (1895–1937)...Herbert Feigl (1902–1988)...Philipp Frank (1884–1966)...Kurt Gödel (1906–1978)...Kurt Grelling (1886–1942)...Adolf Grünbaum (1923–)...Hans Hahn (1879–1934)...Olaf Helmer (1910–)...Carl G. Hempel (1905–1997)...Richard Jeffrey (1926–2002),...Kurt Lewin (1890–1947)...Richard von Mises (1883–1953)...Charles W. Morris (1901–1979)...Otto Neurath (1882–1945)...Paul Oppenheim (1885–1977)...Karl Popper (1902–1994)...Hilary Putnam (1926–) ...W.V.O. Quine (1908–2000)...Hans Reichenbach (1891–1953)...Wesley Salmon (1925–2001...Moritz Schlick (1882–1936)...Wilfrid Sellars (1912–1989)...Alfred Tarski (1901–1983)...Friedrich Waismann (1896–1959)...Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951)

associated issues


related areas

See also



logical positivism




Creath, R., 2011, 'Logical empiricism' in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first published 4 April 2011; substantive revision 19 September 2011 and 5 April 2017, available at , accessed 25 January 2013, still available 9 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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