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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: January 2010

18 - Professionalism, Power, and What Might Have Been


Like any story, the one told here of the rise and fall of the Unity of Science movement in North America is incomplete. Besides the anticommunist pressures described here, other forces and circumstances surely helped to determine the evolution of philosophy of science through the Cold War. Two explored briefly in this chapter are the decline in North America of so-called public intellectuals and the growth of research universities as the main institutions of intellectual life in North America. Both are connected to Cold War anticommunism, and this chapter introduces them as a frame to examine some commonplaces about logical empiricism and the unity of science as well as contemporary interest in the disunity of science. It also addresses two specific questions raised by this story. One concerns the unique role given to Rudolf Carnap, who is depicted both as a leftist philosopher of science in the 1930s and as a professional, apolitical philosopher during and after the Cold War. The other question is one that will have occurred to many readers long before reaching this final chapter: Can't the depoliticization of philosophy of science in the 1950s, described here as the result of multifaceted forces arising from anticommunist powers, be interpreted better as a development or maturation through which twentieth-century philosophy (finally) acknowledged a fundamental and proper disconnection between philosophical research and political partisanship?