About this topic
Summary A variety of topics are covered under this rubric.  In general, most philosophical questions relating to the language of science are of a broadly semantic nature, having to do with the meaning, meaningfulness or reference of scientific discourse about the world.  The question of the meaningfulness (or cognitive significance) of scientific discourse arose in the context of the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle, who proposed a principle of verification (or verifiability theory of meaning).  The logical empiricist successors of logical positivism sought to analyze the semantic content of theoretical discourse on the basis of the connection between theoretical discourse and observational vocabulary, for example, in terms of correspondence rules.  In the context of the "historical turn" associated with Thomas Kuhn, N.R. Hanson and Paul Feyerabend, the idea of meaning variance (conceptual change) came to the fore, as it was argued that the meaning of observational vocabulary depends upon theoretical context, and undergoes variation in the transition between theories.  The idea of meaning variance gave rise to the semantic version of the claim of the incommensurability of scientific theories.  In response to the problem of meaning variance, a number of authors (e.g. Scheffler, Putnam, Kripke) advocated an emphasis on the reference of scientific terms.  In the attempt to show that reference may survive theoretical change, appeal was often made to the "new" or "causal" theory of reference advocated by Kripke.
Key works Two classic references for logical positivist and empiricist approaches to scientific language are Carnap 1936 and Schlick 1936.  Feyerabend's early argument for meaning variance may be found in Feyerabend 1957.  Putnam discusses the question of meaning change in science, proposing a turn to reference in Putnam 1973.  Michael Devitt deals with topics relating to semantic incommensurability in Devitt 1979.  Thomas Kuhn offers his response to some criticism directed against the claim of incommensurability in Kuhn 1983.
Introductions Sankey 2000
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  1. Lukas Bielik (2011). Testability and Meaning of Observation Terms and Theoretical Terms. Organon F 18 (3):384-397.
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  2. Lukáš Bielik (2011). Testovateľnosť a význam observačných a teoretických termínov. Organon F 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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  3. R. E. Butts (1999). Testability. In The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. 908--909.
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Cognitive Significance in Science
  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. I. Berlin (1938). Verification. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39:225 - 248.
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  5. 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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  6. Robert Brown & Alonso Church (1950). Amending the Verification Principle. Analysis 11:87.
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  7. Robert Brown & John Watling (1951). Amending the Verification Principle. Analysis 11 (4):87 - 89.
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  8. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning, 1936. Kwartalnik Filozoficzny 14 (1):55-61.
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  9. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning--Continued. Philosophy of Science 4 (1):1-40.
  10. Rudolf Carnap (1937). Testability and Meaning (Part 2). Philosophy of Science 4 (4):1-40.
  11. Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning. Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.
  12. Rudolf Carnap (1936). Testability and Meaning (Part 1). Philosophy of Science 3 (4):420-71.
  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. Alan Donagan (1956). The Verification of Historical Theses. Philosophical Quarterly 6 (24):193-208.
  16. C. J. Ducasse (1936). Verification, Verifiability, and Meaningfulness. Journal of Philosophy 33 (9):230-236.
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  17. C. J. Ducasse (1935). Is Scientific Verification Possible in Philosophy? Philosophy of Science 2 (2):121-127.
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  18. J. L. Evans (1953). On Meaning and Verification. Mind 62 (245):1-19.
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  19. J. N. Findlay (1949). Dr Joad and the Verification Principle. Hibbert Journal 48:120.
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  20. L. Goddard (1980). Significance, Necessity, and Verification. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 21 (2):193-215.
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  21. Erik Götlind (1954). Ayer on Verification of Negative Statements. Journal of Philosophy 51 (17):490-496.
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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. Felix Kaufmann (1943). Verification, Meaning, and Truth. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (2):267-284.
  26. M. Lazerowitz (1939). Strong and Weak Verification. Mind 48 (190):202-213.
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  27. Morris Lazerowitz (1950). Strong and Weak Verification II. Mind 59 (235):345-357.
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  28. C. I. Lewis (1954). The Verification Theory of Meaning: A Comment. Philosophical Review 63 (2):193-196.
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  29. 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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  30. Margaret MacDonald (1933). Verification and Understanding. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 34:143 - 156.
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  31. 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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  32. Benson Mates (1958). On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language. Inquiry 1 (1-4):161 – 171.
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  33. John McDowell (1976). Truth-Conditions, Bivalence, and Verification. In G. Evans & J. McDowell (eds.), Truth and Meaning. Clarendon Press.
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  34. 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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  35. David L. Miller (1943). Meaning and Verification. Philosophical Review 52 (6):604-609.
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  36. Charles W. Morris (1932). Truth, Action and Verification. The Monist 42 (3):321-329.
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  37. Ernest Nagel (1934). Verifiability, Truth, and Verification. Journal of Philosophy 31 (6):141-148.
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  38. Everett J. Nelson (1954). The Verification Theory of Meaning. Philosophical Review 63 (2):182-192.
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  39. Kai Nielsen (1975). Metaphysics and Verification Revisited. Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):75-93.
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  40. D. J. O'Connor (1950). Some Consequences of Professor A. J. Ayer's Verification Principle. Analysis 10 (3):67 - 72.
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  41. D. J. O'connor (1949). Some Consequences of Prof. Ayer's Verification Principle. Analysis 10 (3):67.
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  42. S. Jack Odell & James F. Zartman (1982). A Defensible Formulation of the Verification Principle. Metaphilosophy 13 (1):65–74.
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  43. L. E. Palmieri (1956). Comments on Verification. Theoria 22 (1):43-48.
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  44. L. E. Palmieri (1955). Verification and Descriptive Predicates. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (4):548-550.
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  45. W. V. Quine (1996). (1951) The Verification Theory and Reductionism. In The Emergence of Logical Empiricism Garland Publishing.
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  46. Friedrich Rapp (1975). The Methodological Symmetry Between Verification and Falsification. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 6 (1):139-144.
    Im Rahmen der deduktiven Logik genügt schon ein einziger negativer Fall, um eine Allaussage als falsch zu erweisen; trotzdem bleibt bei dieser "schwachen Falsifikation" der Wahrheitswert der übrigen Fälle völlig offen. Die methodologisch relevante "starke Falsifikation", die besagt, daß auch alle künftigen Fälle negative Wahrheitswerte haben, setzt dagegen immer einen erweiternden Induktionsschluß voraus. Deshalb ist die These, daß eine wissenschaftliche Theorie ohne Bezugnahme auf das Induktionsprinzip bereits durch ein einziges Gegenbeispiel falsifiziert werden könne, nur dann haltbar, wenn man bereit ist, (...)
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  47. Sherrilyn Roush (2004). Testability and the Unity of Science. Journal of Philosophy 101 (11):555 - 573.
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