Explain the verification principle and the challenges (consider whether Ayer’s response to the verification principle is sufficient)
Explain the falsification principle and challenges
The Verification Principle was founded by the logical positivist movement which was highly supported by the philosophical group the Vienna Circle. They created a principle that suggested that a statement was only ever meaningful if it was able to be verified by an actual personal experience.
There was an exception to this principle which was a tautology; a statement which is logically true by definition (e.
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“ Verification Principle as Philosophical Concept and Scientific Method ”
g. a triangle has three sides). For this reason they denied any statements that concerned metaphysics or religion.
Too rigid – can’t make statements about history
Scientific laws become meaningless – such as gravity’s consistency on Earth
Swinburne: universal statements can’t be verified – such as all ravens are black
Expressions of views on topics such as Art are meaningless
States that we do not conclusively prove something by a direct observation, 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’, if we were to orbit the moon we’d be able to check upon the truthfulness of the statement
Thought to be an improvement of the strong and strict verification principle: applying the principle only to cases that we can directly verify by experience would be limiting, allows us to make statements about the past and emotions and predictions in science
John Hick questioned whether the verification principle renders religious statements meaningless – two travellers down a long road and arguing whether it leads to a celestial city, just as with God and heaven, the walkers can verify at the end of the journey (eschatological verification)
The verification principle is unverifiable in itself
A principle for assessing whether statements are genuine scientific assertions by considering whether any evidence could ever disprove them
Origins with Popper’s philosophy of science: any theory that is impossible to disprove is no valid theory at all
Flew applied it to religion – the gardener analogy – believed religious believers shift so much that their claims are so watered down that they’re barely statements (‘death of a thousand qualifications) – what would have to happen to disprove God’s existence
Hare believed that religious beliefs are basic beliefs that are not verifiable or falsifiable and are unaltered despite empirical evidence
Mitchell argued that religious believers aren’t blind to the problems of faith – they recognise certain evidence can count against belief in God – believe that religious belief does have some grounding in reason
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