Otto Neurath's Scientific Utopianism Revisited: A Refined Model for Utopias in Thought Experiments

Alexander Linsbichler (Korresp. Autor*in), Ivan Ferreira da Cunha

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Otto Neurath’s empiricist methodology of economics and his contributions to political economy have gained increasing attention in recent years. We connect this research with contemporary debates regarding the epistemological status of thought experiments by reconstructing Neurath’s utopias as linchpins of thought experiments. In our three reconstructed examples of different uses of utopias/dystopias in thought experiments we employ a reformulation of Häggqvist’s model for thought experiments and we argue that: (1) Our reformulation of Häggqvist’s model more adequately complies with many uses
of thought experiments, especially with the open-ended discussions of utopias and dystopias in thought experiments. (2) As a strict logical empiricist, Neurath is committed to a strictly empiricist account of thought experiments. John Norton’s empiricist argument view can indeed account for the justifications of empirical beliefs and genuine discoveries targeted by scientific utopianism in three distinct (yet connected) ways, all of which Neurath already contemplated: (2.I) Dealing with utopias and thought experiments on a regular basis increases creativity and inventiveness. (2.II) Particular ways of presenting knowledge facilitate scientific discovery and social progress. (2.III) The use of utopias in thought experiments can prompt conceptual change and allow access to new phenomena. We conclude by highlighting that, even though thought experiments support a positive attitude for exploring new social possibilities, Neurath points out that active decisions are unavoidable. The exploration of alternatives and the awareness of a need for decisions in policy discussion avert a technocratic outlook in social science.
Seiten (von - bis)233-258
FachzeitschriftJournal for General Philosophy of Science
Frühes Online-Datum2023
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Juni 2023

ÖFOS 2012

  • 603124 Wissenschaftstheorie
  • 603102 Erkenntnistheorie
  • 502027 Politische Ökonomie
  • 603116 Politische Philosophie


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