Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

South African Journal of Philosophy

Publication Date

8-1-2005

Volume

24

Issue

3

First Page

200

Last Page

223

Abstract

Van Fraassen has recently argued that empiricism can be construed as a stance, involving commitments, attitudes, values, and goals, in addition to beliefs and opinions. But this characterisation emerges from his recognition that to be an empiricist cannot be to believe, or decide to commit to belief in, a foundational proposition, without removing any basis for a non-dogmatic empiricist critique of other philosophical approaches, such as materialism. However, noticeable by its absence in Van Fraassen\'s discussions is any mention of Bartley\'s ‘pancritical rationalism', for Bartley offers a cohesive argument that genuine dogmatism lies precisely in the act of commitment to an idea. The consequence of denying this, he thinks, is an opening of the flood gates to irrationalism: if to rely on reasoned argument in decision-making is fundamentally an act of faith, then there is a tu quoque – “I simply have a different faith” – that may be employed by those who wish to shield their views from criticism.

This raises the following question: why should it be any less dogmatic to adopt particular commitments, attitudes, values, and goals, rather than a particular belief or opinion, come what may? And if Bartley is right that there is only one non-dogmatic attitude – the critical attitude – then why might this not be adopted by an empiricist, a materialist, a metaphysician, or anyone else?

Print ISSN

02580136

E-ISSN

20734867

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2006 Philosophical Society of Southern Africa

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Pre-print

Recommended Citation

Rowbottom, D. P. (2005). The empirical stance vs. the critical attitude. South African Journal of Philosophy, 24(3), 200-223.

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