This is the beginning of the “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carrol
Cognitivism : sentences are meaningful because they refer to the world. Verificationism : a sentence is meaningful if and only if (a) it is a tautology or (b) it is verifiable, in principle. Falsificationism :a sentence is meaningful if it can be proved false Non-cognitivism : sentences can be meaningful even without correlating with the world. Wittgenstein & language games Tillich and symbols
Verificationism a statement is only meaningful if it is (a) a tautology (true by definition) (b) verifiable in principle – ie clear how it could have been proved true. Check the statements from yesterday
Verificationism a statement is only meaningful if it is (a) a tautology (true by definition) (b) verifiable in principle – ie clear how it could have been proved true. Textbook on this : Pg 254 - 258 Criticisms 1. what about general statements? For example - “All swans are white” “objects accelerate towards the centre of earth at 9.8 ms -2, ceteris paribus” How can these general statements be proved true? Only be checking every possible occurrence – which is not possible for the Physics example… Freddie says – “strong verificationism requires statements to be verifiable by observation – weak verificationism requires only that observations establish the probable truth of the statement”. So weak verificationism does cater for scientific statements… 2. what about statements involving beauty? What about morals? How can you verify, “torture is objectively morally wrong, in all cultures”? Freddie would probably say that statement is meaningless. 3. what about philosophical statements like… Ayer’s verification principle – how can you verify, “statements are meaningful only if they are tautologies or verifiable”. If you can’t explain how it can be checked, then it is meaningless!
Verificationism a statement is only meaningful if it is (a) a tautology (true by definition) (b) verifiable in principle – ie clear how it could have been proved true. Hick in defence of religious language : (a) a more open definition of verifiability is needed. You could define verifiability as “removing the rational grounds for doubt”. This would allow statements like “we are not living in the Matrix” to be meaningful, even it is not clear how they can be verified. (b) eschatological verification = verification at the end of time. Many of the claims of Christianity will be confirmed on Judgement day. That is there nature. Therefore they are verifiable in principle. This does provoke a discussion about how anyone can be sure of their identity on Judgement Day….. (c) how can I exist after I die, in order to experience judgement day? If someone died in London, and then appeared instantaneously with all the same memories in Lagos – would we call it the same person? Hick reckons we should… and that the same logic applies to someone appearing in Heaven.
Homework for Friday Prepare notes for a debate “this house believes that verificationism proves religious language to be meaningless” On Monday Exam questions on Theory of Knowledge (realism/idealism + JTB + rationalism/empiricism) – notes allowed.