W. W. Bartley III
William Warren Bartley III
|Born||October 2, 1934|
Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||February 5, 1990 (aged 55)|
Oakland, California, United States
William Warren Bartley III (October 2, 1934 – February 5, 1990), known as W. W. Bartley III, was an American philosopher specializing in 20th century philosophy, language and logic, and the Vienna Circle.
Born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1934, Bartley was brought up in a Protestant home. He completed his secondary education in Pittsburgh and studied at Harvard University between 1952 and 1956, graduating with a BA degree in philosophy.:18 While an undergraduate at Harvard, he was an editor at The Harvard Crimson newspaper. He spent the winter semester of 1956 and the summer semester of 1957 at the Harvard Divinity School and the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1958, he completed his MA degree in philosophy at Harvard. Bartley was training to become a Protestant minister, but rejected Christianity at that point.:44f He went on to study under Sir Karl Popper at the London School of Economics, where he completed his PhD in 1962. Parts of his dissertation, Limits of Rationality: A Critical Study of Some Logical Problems of Contemporary Pragmatism and Related Movements, were subsequently published as The Retreat to Commitment in the same year.
After his doctoral graduation, Bartley worked as a lecturer in logic in London. Later, he held positions at the Warburg Institute and the University of California, San Diego. He was appointed to his first full professorship in 1969, at the University of Pittsburgh, where he had been teaching since 1963.
In 1973, he joined the California State University, Hayward faculty as a professor of philosophy, where he received the distinction of "Outstanding Professor" of the entire California State University System in 1979. His last position was that of a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Bartley and Popper had a great admiration for each other, partly because of their common stand against justificationism. However, at the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science at Bedford College, University of London, July 11–17, 1965, they came into conflict with each other. Bartley had presented a paper, "Theories of Demarcation Between Science and Metaphysics," in which he accused Popper of displaying a positivist attitude in his early works and proposed that Popper's demarcation criterion was not as important as Popper thought it was. Popper took this as a personal attack, and Bartley took his reply as indicating that Popper was ignoring his criticism.:81f Their friendship was not restored until 1974, after the publication of The Philosophy of Karl Popper (edited by Paul Schillpp).:87 Bartley changed the tone of his remarks about Popper's criterion of demarcation, making it less aggressive. However, despite the restored friendship, Bartley's view was never accepted by Popper, who criticised it even after Bartley's death.:First Part
Bartley published a biography of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, titled simply Wittgenstein, in 1973. The book contained a relatively brief, 4–5 page treatment of Wittgenstein's homosexuality, relying mainly on reportage from the philosopher's friends and acquaintances. This matter caused enormous controversy in intellectual and philosophical circles; many perceived it as a posthumous "attack" on Wittgenstein. Some foreign translations of the book, such as the first edition of the Spanish translation, omitted the "offending" material. In the second edition of the biography (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1985, pp. 159–97), Bartley answered the objections of critics, pointing out that Wittgenstein's periods of active homosexuality are verified by the philosopher's own private writings, including his coded diaries, and that extensive confirmation was also available from people who knew Wittgenstein in Vienna between the two World Wars, including ex-lovers. Bartley also considered, and rejected, the idea of a connection between the private life and the philosophy.
Bartley extended Popperian epistemology in his book The Retreat to Commitment, in which he describes pancritical rationalism (PCR), a development of critical rationalism and panrationalism. PCR attempts to work around the problem of ultimate commitment or infinite regress by decoupling criticism and justification. A pancritical rationalist holds all positions open to criticism, including PCR, and never resorts to authority for justification.
Parts of Popper's Realism and the Aim of Science, a book that Bartley edited, and the Addendum to the fourth edition of The Open Society and Its Enemies contain passages that are commonly interpreted as Popper's acceptance of Bartley's views. Mariano Artigas held that these were in fact written by Bartley himself.:23–25, 96
Alan Ebenstein, a biographer of F. A. Hayek, criticized Bartley for the extent of the changes he made as the editor of The Fatal Conceit, a book attributed to Hayek. Bruce Caldwell suggests that the book in its published form may actually have been written by Bartley.
At the time of his death, Bartley had just finished his last book, Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth: On Universities and the Wealth of Nations. Other works he was preparing at that time included writing a biography, and editing the collected works, of Friedrich Hayek. The latter was being completed after Bartley's death by his colleague and executor Stephen Kresge. Also unfinished was a biography of Popper. Both biographies were in an advanced stage at the time of Bartley's death.