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Everybody has the right to do what he wants

Hans Reichenbach's volitionism and its historical roots

Andreas Kamlah

pp. 151-175

Reichenbach lays often a strong emphasis on free choice in nearly all chapters of his philosophy. In the philosophy of geometry he claims that the choice of the metric of space is completely free. His theory of induction is based on wagers. In his epistemology he talks about "volitional decisions' between different language systems.These claims represent a common tendency which could be called "volitionism". Reichenbach throughout his life held that the human will is free, and that the cause of this freedom lies in the structure of physical laws. He disagreed with the Vienna Circle, who considered the question of freedom of the will to be metaphysical and thus philosophically uninteresting.Freedom of choice was also important for Reichenbach in ethics and education. The picture he had of men, though, is very important for his philosophy. It is so to speak the ideological basis of his philosophy of science and epistemology, which was laid very early in his life during his student days, when he was influenced by the Jugendbewegung ("youth movement") and by the German educationist Gustav Wyneken. To shed some light on Reichenbach's thought under this perspective will be the main subject of the present chapter.During all his live, Reichenbach never published a detailed defence of his standpoint concerning the will. When he died, he left a long manuscript "The Freedom of the Will," which his wife, Maria Reichenbach, published posthumously.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5485-0_7

Full citation:

Kamlah, A. (2013)., Everybody has the right to do what he wants: Hans Reichenbach's volitionism and its historical roots, in N. Milkov & V. Peckhaus (eds.), The Berlin group and the philosophy of logical empiricism, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 151-175.

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