Wolfgang Stegmüller

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Wolfgang Stegmüller (born June 3, 1923 in Natters , Tyrol ; † June 1, 1991 in Munich ) was an Austrian philosopher who made significant contributions to epistemology , philosophy of science and analytical philosophy . With his work Mainstreams of Contemporary Philosophy, Stegmüller opened up access to analytical philosophy to a German-speaking readership.


Wolfgang Stegmüller studied economics and philosophy at the University of Innsbruck . In 1944 he obtained a degree in economics and a year later he obtained a doctorate in economics. He also received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck in 1947 and qualified as a professor in 1949 on the subject of Being, Truth and Value in Today's Philosophy .

After a year-long stay at Oxford University, Stegmüller returned to Innsbruck University in 1954, where he was appointed titular professor of philosophy in 1956. After interim stays as a visiting professor at the Universities of Kiel and Bonn , he was offered a position at the LMU Munich , where in 1958 he became full professor for philosophy, logic and philosophy of science and head of seminar II. In between he was twice visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania , in 1962/63 and 1964. From 1977 to 1979 he was also Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Statistics.

Stegmüller was a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences from 1966 and a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since 1967 . From 1972 he was a member of the Institut International de Philosophie in Paris.

In 1989 Stegmüller was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Innsbruck. In 1990 he retired from LMU and was elected honorary president of the Society for Analytical Philosophy in the same year . His grave is in the Gräfelfing cemetery .

The Society for Analytical Philosophy has been awarding the Wolfgang Stegmüller Prize, named after him, since 1994 for the promotion of young scientists.

Stegmüller habilitated ten of his students and thus had a considerable impact, even though there is no Stegmüller school. What all his students have in common, however, is the orientation towards analytical philosophy and the insistence on formal procedures. The students include: Wolfgang Balzer , Ulrich Blau , Klaus Butzenberger , Max Drömmer , Wilhelm Essler , Peter Hinst , Norbert Hoerster , Andreas Kamlah , Godehard Link , Georg Meggle , Carlos Ulises Moulines , Felix Mühlhölzer , Mihai Nadin , Wolfgang Röd , Julian Nida -Rümelin , Matthias Varga von Kibéd , Franz von Kutschera , Eike von Savigny , Reinhard Werth , Wolfgang Spohn and Hans Rott .

Scientific fields of work

Stegmüller was at the beginning of his career in 1948 by Karl Popper to the logical positivism alerted whose philosophical position was virtually unknown after the Second World War in Germany. As a result he oriented himself in particular to Rudolf Carnap , but without taking up the political and anti-metaphysical views of the Vienna Circle. According to his own information, he joined Carnap because of the positions in question, Wittgenstein, on the one hand, considered a strictly scientific philosophy to be impossible and, on the other hand, Popper did not attach particular importance to the philosophy of language. With his publications, Stegmüller contributed significantly to the knowledge and dissemination of analytical philosophy and the philosophy of science in the German-speaking area. In his inaugural lecture, Stegmüller mentioned the four problems of epistemology , which would later become central points in his work:

Stegmüller's philosophical fields of work span a wide area. In addition to extensive work on contemporary philosophy, he published extensively on the fundamentals of logic, epistemology and philosophy of science.


With his books The Truth Problem and the Idea of ​​Semantics (1957) and Incompleteness and Undecidability (1959), Stegmüller contributed to the fact that the ideas of Alfred Tarski and Rudolf Carnap in the field of semantics and logic as well as Kurt Gödel's contributions to mathematical logic unite German-speaking audience. Other important contributions in this area are his article The Antinomies and Their Treatment (1955) and the book Structural Types of Logic (1961), which he co-authored .


One of the most influential works by Stegmüller is his book Metaphysik, Skeptis, Wissenschaft , first published in 1954 , in which he presents the epistemological foundations of the three areas. He shows here that the search for these epistemological foundations inevitably leads to the problem of evidence , which he considers insoluble. He also excludes the possibility of a solution by demonstrating the self-contradiction of the universal skepticism of knowledge , even if this self-contradiction were really given. Rather, he comes to the conclusion that a universal skepticism of knowledge can be defended without contradiction, provided that one does not justify this position. Despite the insolubility of the problem of evidence, evidence prerequisites are indispensable for both metaphysics and science; According to Stegmüller, neither can ultimately be justified, but rather presuppose a decision.

Another focus of Stegmüller's work lay in dealing with phenomenalism . In his publication Phenomenalism and its Difficulties in 1958, he describes the extreme difficulties that stand in the way of a consistent implementation of the phenomenalist program.

Philosophy of science

Stegmüller is one of the most important scientific theorists in the second half of the 20th century. It is particularly thanks to him that the problems and results of the philosophy of science and analytical philosophy became known to a wide audience in German-speaking countries.

The publication of the books The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn in 1962 and The Logical Structure of Mathematical Physics by Joseph D. Sneed in 1971 were to be formative for Stegmüller's work in the theory of science . While Kuhn's publication, according to his own statements, entangled him in a deep intellectual crisis, he saw in Sneed's ideas both a way out of the rationality crisis in science - which was often pointed out from Kuhn's publication - and an appropriate answer to the problem of theoretical concepts . Through the elaboration of Sneed's ideas by him and his circle, the epistemological structuralism became an important direction within the contemporary philosophy of science.

Work (selection)

  • Main currents of contemporary philosophy . 1st edition Humboldt-Verlag, Vienna, Stuttgart 1952. Second revised and expanded edition in 1960 by Kröner, Stuttgart with further, in some cases significantly expanded, editions up to the four-volume edition in 1989. ISBN 3-520-30807-X
  • Metaphysics - Skepticism - Science . Humboldt-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 1954.
  • Language and logic . In: Studium Generale , Volume 9, 1956.
  • The problem of universals , then and now . 2 parts. In: Archive for Philosophy , Stuttgart, Volume 6, 1956; Volume 7, 1957.
  • The truth problem and the idea of ​​semantics . Springer, Vienna 1957.
  • Incompleteness and undecidability. The metamathematic results of Gödel, Church, Kleene, Rosser and their epistemological significance . - 1st edition 1959. 3rd edition. - Springer-Verlag, Vienna, New York, 1973. ISBN 3-211-81208-3 . 116 pp.
  • Believing, knowing and knowing . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1965
  • Unity and problem of scientific knowledge of the world . Hueber, Munich 1967
  • Phenomenalism and its difficulties . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1969
  • Essays on the philosophy of science . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1970.
  • Essays on Kant and Wittgenstein . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1970.
  • Problems and results of the philosophy of science and analytical philosophy
    • Volume I, Explanation-Justification-Causality , 1983
    • Volume II, Theory and Experience , 1974
      • Part 1: Theory and Experience , 1974
      • Part 2: Structures of Theory and Theory Dynamics , 1985
      • Volume 3: The Development of the New Structuralism since 1973 , 1986
    • Volume III, Structure Types of Logic , 1984
    • Volume IV, Personal and Statistical Probability , 1973
      • 1st half volume: Personal Probability and Rational Decision , 1973
      • 2nd half volume: Statistical Inference - Statistical Justification - Statistical Analysis , 1973
  • The problem of induction. Hume's Challenge and Modern Answers . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1975.
  • The Structure and Dynamics of Theories . Springer, Berlin 1976.
  • Rational reconstruction of science and its change . Reclam, Stuttgart 1979
  • New ways of the philosophy of science . Springer, Berlin 1979.
  • The Structuralists View of Theories . Springer, Berlin 1979
  • Philosophy of Economics . Springer, Berlin 1982
  • Kripke's interpretation of Wittgenstein's late philosophy. Attempted to comment on an attempted comment. Kröner, Stuttgart 1986.


  • CG Hempel, H. Putnam, WK Essler: Methodology, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Essays in Honor of Wolfgang Stegmüller on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday, June 3rd, 1983. Reprinted ... Journal Knowledge, Vol. 19, Nos . 1,2 and 3. Springer Verlag, Berlin 1983, ISBN 90-277-1646-3 .
  • Erich Heintel : Wolfgang Stegmüller. In: Almanac of the Austrian Academy of Sciences for 1991/92. 142nd year, Vienna 1993, pp. 489–497.
  • R. Kleinknecht: Obituary for Wolfgang Stegmüller. In: Journal for General Philosophy of Science. 24, 1993, pp. 1-16.
  • Friedrich Stadler (Hrsg.): Expulsion, transformation and return of the philosophy of science. LIT, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-643-50165-3 .
  • Hans Rott: Stegmüller , in: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Hrsg.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. 2nd Edition. Volume 7, Stuttgart, Metzler 2018, ISBN 978-3-476-02106-9 , pp. 515 - 517 (with a detailed list of works and literature)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gerd Otto-Rieke: Graves in Bavaria . Munich 2000. p. 26.
  2. ^ Reinhard Kleinknecht: Obituary for Wolfgang Stegmüller . In: Journal for General Philosophy of Science . Vol. 24, No. 1, 1993, p. 2 .