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Alexander Linsbichler

Alexander Linsbichler studied mathematics, mathematical logic and foundations, and history and philosophy of science at the University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology. He completed his diploma thesis in the field of recursive model theory. In his master thesis he undertook a rational reconstruction and a critical analysis of the epistemology of the Neo-Austrian School of Economics. He taught mathematics for mechanical engineering and process technology at the Vienna University of Technology and teaches philosophical logic at the University of Vienna. His main research interests include philosophy and history of the social sciences, philosophy and history of the formal sciences, logic of science, semantics, political theory, and economics.

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Research Project: Otto Neurath and Ludwig von Mises: Late Enlightenment between physicalism, essentialism, and methodological individualism

Logical Empiricism and the Austrian School of Economics are two of the internationally most influential intellectual movements with Viennese roots. But a detailed historical and philosophical investigation of their relationship has been neglected to a large extent. In my dissertation project I intend to focus on the many-faceted intellectual encounter between Otto Neurath and Ludwig von Mises. The confrontation of their interrelated methodological, epistemological, economic, and political positions can be regarded as a variation of the classical Methodenstreit.

In contrast to the received view, I contend that Neurath and Mises share similar motivations inspired by Late Enlightenment and often face identical philosophical and political opponents like essentialism, irrationalism, and totalitarianism. A central question I want to answer is: Upon what grounds do they nevertheless develop radically different solutions to the problems they face? For instance, both authors deny the objectivity of the method of historical understanding, but suggest different alternatives for the structure of satisfactory explanations in the theoretical social sciences: physicalism and methodological individualism respectively.

The genuinely interdisciplinary character of my investigations is triggered by the following hypothesis: The epistemological, philosophical, and methodological debates are induced by open economic and political problems, such as the search for a homogeneous price theory and the socialist calculation debates. For example, I propose to interpret Neurath‘s relational, positivistic or behavioristic concept of ‘conditions of life‘ (Lebenslagen) as a Machian extension of ideas developed by the German Historical School in order to explain relative prices. In the socialist calculation debates, which are up until now subject of economic and ethic disputes, both Mises and Neurath played a major role by word and deed. I intend to reconstruct and evaluate their arguments, as to whether a ‘rational’ system of organization without private ownership of the means of production is principally possible.

DK Program The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts
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