About this topic
Summary The question of cognitive significance is a topic that is mainly associated with the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle in the early 20th century.  The early logical positivists endorsed a principle of verification according to which the meaning of a proposition consists in the conditions under which the proposition may be verified (shown to be true).  If no verifiability conditions exist for a proposition, then the proposition was taken to be meaningless.  The principle of  verification was taken to state conditions for the cognitive significance of claims about the world.  Unverifiable or meaningless claims fail to have cognitive significance. The strict principle of verification was ultimately rejected by later positivists for various reasons, e.g. the apparent meaninglessness of the principle itself, as well as the implication of the meaninglessness of all non-observational propositions.  Later positivists replaced the requirement of strict empirical verification with weaker requirements such as non-conclusive confirmation.
Key works See Carnap 1936 and Schlick 1936
Introductions Sankey 2000
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  1. Peter Achinstein (1963). Theoretical Terms and Partial Interpretation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (54):89-105.
  2. Shane Andre (1966). The Verification Principle: Its Problems and Development. Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
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  3. A. J. Ayer (1936). Verification and Experience. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 37:137 - 156.
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  4. Jeffrey Barrett, On the Cognitive Status of Our Best Physical Theories.
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. There is also good reason to suppose that we have no concrete idea concerning what it might mean to claim that these theories are approximately or vaguely true. I will argue that providing a concrete understanding the approximate or vague truth of our current physical theories is not a (...)
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  5. I. Berlin (1938). Verification. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39:225 - 248.
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  6. Lukas Bielik (2011). Testability and Meaning of Observation Terms and Theoretical Terms. Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
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  7. Lukáš Bielik (2011). Testovateľnosť a význam observačných a teoretických termínov. Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
    Carnap’s analysis of the language of science had presupposed too close a connection between the semantics and testability. The core problem of the logical empiricist tradition was to show how to provide the interpretation of theoretical terms and hence the explanation of their application to observable entities by means of observation terms. It is argued that the utilization of a much more expressive semantic theory which identifies meanings with hyperintensional entities leads to a clarification of the competencies of semantics and (...)
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  8. Jesús P. Zamora Bonilla (2003). Meaning and Testability in the Structuralist Theory of Science. Erkenntnis 59 (1):47 - 76.
    The connection between scientific knowledge and our empirical access to realityis not well explained within the structuralist approach to scientific theories. I arguethat this is due to the use of a semantics not rich enough from the philosophical pointof view. My proposal is to employ Sellars–Brandom's inferential semantics to understand how can scientific terms have empirical content, and Hintikka's game-theoretical semantics to analyse how can theories be empirically tested. The main conclusions are that scientific concepts gain their meaning through `basic (...)
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  9. Robert Brown & Alonso Church (1950). Amending the Verification Principle. Analysis 11:87.
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  10. Robert Brown & John Watling (1951). Amending the Verification Principle. Analysis 11 (4):87 - 89.
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  11. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning, 1936. Kwartalnik Filozoficzny 14 (1):55-61.
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  12. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning--Continued. Philosophy of Science 4 (1):1-40.
  13. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning (Part 2). Philosophy of Science 4 (4):1-40.
  14. Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning. Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.
  15. Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning (Part 1). Philosophy of Science 3 (4):420-71.
  16. Ramon Cirera (1993). The Logical Analysis of Scientific Language According to Carnap. Grazer Philosophische Studien 45:1-19.
    "Testability and Meaning" is one of Carnap's best-known works. It has been usually seen as one of the main sources of the received view of the philosophy of science, and it is normally read in the hght of the tradition it originated. Nevertheless, this reading detaches the text from the philosophical project to which it belongs. This paper aims to situate Camap's article in its proper philosophical place, which is found in the programme initiated in the Logische Syntax, a programme (...)
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  17. Frederick C. Copleston (1950). A Note on Verification. Mind 59 (236):522-529.
    The author, using bertrand russell's "human knowledge": "it's scope and limits", makes a point of departure where russell distinguishes between "meaning" and "significance." the author contends that in using these distinctions in a metaphysical argument, his purpose is not to show whether or not the argument is possible, but to show the problem of validity of metaphysical arguments as the remaining fundamental problem in regards to metaphysics. (staff).
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  18. Robert Daglish (ed.) (1972). The Scientific and Technological Revolution: Social Effects and Prospects. Moscow,Progress Publishers.
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  19. Alan Donagan (1956). The Verification of Historical Theses. Philosophical Quarterly 6 (24):193-208.
  20. C. J. Ducasse (1936). Verification, Verifiability, and Meaningfulness. Journal of Philosophy 33 (9):230-236.
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  21. C. J. Ducasse (1935). Is Scientific Verification Possible in Philosophy? Philosophy of Science 2 (2):121-127.
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  22. J. L. Evans (1953). On Meaning and Verification. Mind 62 (245):1-19.
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  23. J. N. Findlay (1949). Dr Joad and the Verification Principle. Hibbert Journal 48:120.
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  24. L. Goddard (1980). Significance, Necessity, and Verification. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 21 (2):193-215.
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  25. Erik Götlind (1954). Ayer on Verification of Negative Statements. Journal of Philosophy 51 (17):490-496.
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  26. Carl G. Hempel (1950). Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning. 11 Rev. Intern. De Philos 41 (11):41-63.
    The fundamental tenet of modern empiricism is the view that all non-analytic knowledge is based on experience. Let us call this thesis the principle of empiricism. [1] Contemporary logical empiricism has added [2] to it the maxim that a sentence makes a cognitively meaningful assertion, and thus can be said to be either true or false, only if it is either (1) analytic or self-contradictory or (2) capable, at least in principle, of experiential test. According to this so-called empiricist criterion (...)
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  27. Ronald Fredrick Hough (1970). The Cognitive Status of Scientific Theories. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
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  28. Robert G. Hudson (2008). Carnap's Empiricism, Lost and Found. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 43:81-88.
    Recent scholarship (by mainly Michael Friedman, but also by Thomas Uebel) on the philosophy of Rudolf Carnap covering the period from the publication of Carnap’s’ 1928 book Der Logische Aufbau der Welt through to the mid to late 1930’s has tended to view Carnap as espousing a form of conventionalism (epitomized by his adoption of the principle of tolerance) and not a form of empirical foundationalism. On this view, it follows that Carnap’s 1934 The Logical Syntax of Language is the (...)
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  29. Michael Hymers (2005). Going Around the Vienna Circle: Wittgenstein and Verification. Philosophical Investigations 28 (3):205–234.
    I argue that Wittgenstein’s short-lived verificationism (c.1929-30) differed from that of his contacts in the Vienna Circle in not being a reductionist view. It lay the groundwork for his later views that the meaning of a word is determined by its use and that certain "propositions of the form of empirical propositions" (On Certainty, §§96, 401, 402) act as "norm[s] of description" (On Certainty,§§167, 321). He gave it up once he realized that it contradicted his rejection of logical atomism, and (...)
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  30. Felix Kaufmann (1943). Verification, Meaning, and Truth. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (2):267-284.
  31. M. Lazerowitz (1939). Strong and Weak Verification. Mind 48 (190):202-213.
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  32. Morris Lazerowitz (1950). Strong and Weak Verification II. Mind 59 (235):345-357.
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  33. C. I. Lewis (1954). The Verification Theory of Meaning: A Comment. Philosophical Review 63 (2):193-196.
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  34. Loet Leydesdorff (1994). Exchange on the Cognitive Dimension as a Problem for Empirical Research in Science Studies. Social Epistemology 8 (2):91 – 107.
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  35. Nicola Lonsdale (2003). Review of Peter Carruthers, Michael Siegal, Stephen Stich, (Eds.), The Cognitive Basis of Science. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (3).
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  36. Sebastian Lutz, Criteria of Empirical Significance: A Success Story.
    The sheer multitude of criteria of empirical significance has been taken as evidence that the pre-analytic notion being explicated is too vague to be useful. I show instead that a significant number of these criteria—by Ayer, Popper, Przełęcki, Suppes, and David Lewis, among others—not only form a coherent whole, but also connect directly to the theory of definition, the notion of empirical content as explicated by Ramsey sentences, and the theory of measurement; two criteria by Carnap and Sober are trivial, (...)
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  37. Sebastian Lutz (forthcoming). Carnap on Empirical Significance. Synthese.
    Carnap’s search for a criterion of empirical significance is usually considered a failure. I argue that the results from two out of his three different approaches are at the very least problematic, but that one approach led to success. Carnap’s criterion of translatability into logical syntax is too vague to allow definite results. His criteria for terms—introducibility by reduction sentences and his criterion from “The Methodological Character of Theoretical Concepts”—are almost trivial and have no clear relation to the empirical significance (...)
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  38. Margaret MacDonald (1933). Verification and Understanding. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 34:143 - 156.
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  39. Benson Mates (1964). On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language. In V. C. Chappell (ed.), Inquiry. Dover Publications 161 – 171.
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  40. Benson Mates (1958). On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language. Inquiry 1 (1-4):161 – 171.
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  41. David P. McCabe & Alan D. Castel (2008). Seeing is Believing: The Effect of Brain Images on Judgments of Scientific Reasoning. Cognition 107 (1):343-352.
  42. John McDowell (1976). Truth-Conditions, Bivalence, and Verification. In G. Evans & J. McDowell (eds.), Truth and Meaning. Clarendon Press
  43. Alexander Miller (1998). Emotivism and the Verification Principle. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (2):103–124.
    In chapter VI of Language, Truth, and Logic, A.J. Ayer argues that ethical statements are not literally significant. Unlike metaphysical statements, however, ethical statements are not nonsensical: even though they are not literally significant, Ayer thinks that they possess some other sort of significance. This raises the question: by what principle or criterion can we distinguish, among the class of statements that are not literally significant, between those which are genuinely meaningless and those which possess some other, non-literal form of (...)
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  44. David L. Miller (1943). Meaning and Verification. Philosophical Review 52 (6):604-609.
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  45. Charles W. Morris (1932). Truth, Action and Verification. The Monist 42 (3):321-329.
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  46. Ernest Nagel (1934). Verifiability, Truth, and Verification. Journal of Philosophy 31 (6):141-148.
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  47. Everett J. Nelson (1954). The Verification Theory of Meaning. Philosophical Review 63 (2):182-192.
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  48. Kai Nielsen (1975). Metaphysics and Verification Revisited. Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):75-93.
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  49. D. J. O'Connor (1950). Some Consequences of Professor A. J. Ayer's Verification Principle. Analysis 10 (3):67 - 72.
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  50. D. J. O'connor (1949). Some Consequences of Prof. Ayer's Verification Principle. Analysis 10 (3):67.
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