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(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
Some form of verification principle is essential, namely, that unverifiable statements have almost certainly no reference. This is because in a contingent world there are infinitely many possibilities.
- I sympathise with the basic philosophical methods of the logical positivists. This does not imply, however, that I agree with all their underlying aims or with all of the consequences of their approach.
- By logical positivism I mean the view that statements and putative entities whose accuracy or existence cannot be verified by possible sense experience are meaningless.
- However, the foundation principle of logical positivism, that the meaning of any statement is its method of verification, is probably false. This would imply (as in the previous proposition) that unverifiable statements are meaningless rather than having sense but, possibly, no reference.
- I accept Popper's criticism of logical positivism's verification principle : that no amount of positive evidence can verify a general law, though one contrary observation may falsify it. I accept his "Conjectures & Refutations" approach whereby scientific hypotheses are not arrived at inductively but are well-informed guesses (conjectures) which may be refuted by experience but cannot be proved by experience.
- I take it, however, that statements of a particular nature (ie. once off statements about the world, eg. "Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo") are equally verifiable or falsifiable.
- While I would not go so far as to deny meaning to unverifiable or unfalsifiable statements, I would insist that such statements be treated with caution.
- Both the logical positivists' verification principle & Popper's falsification doctrine are intended as principles of demarcation. The verification principle is intended as a criterion of meaning, to distinguish sense from nonsense. Popper's falsification doctrine is intended to distinguish science from pseudo-science. I am interested in both principles as criteria for evaluating truth claims. In what follows, I will use the term undecidable for unverifiable or unfalsifiable to avoid tedium.
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||452 (Experiments - Verification)
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