Ayer and the weak verification principle

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  • Created by: Abitracey
  • Created on: 15-02-13 13:15
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  • Ayer and the weak verifiction principle
    • He accepts the devision between a priori and a posteriori
    • For a statement to be meaningful it must either be a tautology (a priori) or verfiable in principle (a posteriori
    • Verification prnciple
      • We do not have to conclusively prove something by direct observation.
      • Verification in principle means that in order for a statement to be meaningful, we need to suggest how it could possibly be verified.
      • 'There are mountains on the far side of the moon', this is not meaningless as we can suggest that is we were to orbit the moon we would be able to check the truthfulness of the statement.
    • Where Ayer differs from the Vienna Circle
      • Ayer extends the principle by suggesting that we specify what might be required for the statement to be considered factually true.
      • Ayer's principle is known as the weak verification.
      • The principle states that in order to be meaningful, a statement may not be provable: however it may be possible to show that it is probably true beyond any reasonable doubt.
      • enables us to make statements about the past and other people's emotions, and to make predictions in science. History and science are now meaningful, religion and ethics are not.
    • Criticisms of the weak verification principle
      • John Hick: questionned whether the verification principle renders religious statements meaningless. Hick came up with eschatological verification.
      • Soem thinkers argue that a number of religious statements are verifiable in principle, for instance statements relating to teh life of Jesus.
      • Many thinkers have objected to the verification principle as it is itself unverifiable.
        • It is not a tautology and no amount of evidence can establish whether it is true that only things experienced are meaningful.
          • Ayer's argued that the verification principle only applied to statements not whole theories.


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