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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76 found
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  1. Criteria of Empirical Significance: A Success Story.Sebastian Lutz - manuscript
    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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  2. Armchair Philosophy Naturalized.Sebastian Lutz - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1099-1125.
    Carnap suggests that philosophy can be construed as being engaged solely in conceptual engineering. I argue that since many results of the sciences can be construed as stemming from conceptual engineering as well, Carnap’s account of philosophy can be methodologically naturalistic. This is also how he conceived of his account. That the sciences can be construed as relying heavily on conceptual engineering is supported by empirical investigations into scientific methodology, but also by a number of conceptual considerations. I present a (...)
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  3. Empirical Significance, Predictive Power, and Explication.Jonathan Surovell - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2519-2539.
    Criteria of empirical significance are supposed to state conditions under which reference to an unobservable object or property is “empirically meaningful”. The intended kind of empirical meaningfulness should be necessary for admissibility into the selective contexts of scientific inquiry. I defend Justus’s recent argument that the reasons generally given for rejecting the project of defining a significance criterion are unpersuasive. However, as I show, this project remains wedded to an overly narrow conception of its subject matter. Even the most cutting (...)
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  4. Carnap on Empirical Significance.Sebastian Lutz - 2017 - Synthese 194 (1):217-252.
    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 for definite results. His criteria for terms—introducibility by chains of reduction sentences and his criterion from “The Methodological Character of Theoretical Concepts”—are almost trivial and have no clear relation to (...)
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  5. Testovateľnosť a význam observačných a teoretických termínov.Lukáš Bielik - 2011 - 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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  6. Testability and Meaning of Observation Terms and Theoretical Terms.Lukas Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
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  7. Beyond the Formalist Criterion of Cognitive Significance: Philipp Frank’s Later Antimetaphysics.Thomas Uebel - 2011 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (1):47-72.
    This article considers the development of Philipp Frank’s opposition to metaphysics in the light of the contention that there also was a long-standing pragmatic strand to the theorizing about science in the Vienna Circle. It is argued that the later Frank did not only distinguish metaphysical statements from those deemed simply cognitively meaningless by a substantive criterion but that in order to identify the latter he also sought to employ a practical rather than a formal criterion with which he and (...)
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  8. Carnap's Theories of Confirmation.Pierre Wagner - 2011 - In Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalo, Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann & Marcel Weber (eds.), Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation. Springer. pp. 477--486.
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  9. Carnap's Empiricism, Lost and Found.Robert G. Hudson - 2008 - 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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  10. Seeing is Believing: The Effect of Brain Images on Judgments of Scientific Reasoning.David P. McCabe & Alan D. Castel - 2008 - Cognition 107 (1):343-352.
  11. Going Around the Vienna Circle: Wittgenstein and Verification.Michael Hymers - 2005 - 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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  12. Meaning and Testability in the Structuralist Theory of Science.Jesús P. Zamora Bonilla - 2003 - 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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  13. The Language of Science: Meaning Variance and Theory Comparison.Howard Sankey - 2000 - Language Sciences 22 (2):117-136.
    The paper gives an overview of key themes of twentieth century philosophical treatment of the language of science, with special emphasis on the meaning variance of scientific terms and the comparison of alternative theories. These themes are dealt with via discussion of the topics of: (a) the logical positivist principle of verifiability and the problem of the meaning of theoretical terms, (b) the postpositivist thesis of semantic incommensurability, and (c) the scientific realist response to incommensurability based on the causal theory (...)
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  14. The Verification Principle: Another Puncture.A. G. Suarez - 2000 - Analysis 60 (3):293-295.
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  15. The Verification Principle: Another Puncture.Alfonso Garcia Suarez - 2000 - Analysis 60 (3):293-295.
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  16. Testability.Elliott Sober - 1999 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 73 (2):47-76.
    That some propositions are testable, while others are not, was a fundamental idea in the philosophical program known as logical empiricism. That program is now widely thought to be defunct. Quine’s (1953) “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” and Hempel’s (1950) “Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning” are among its most notable epitaphs. Yet, as we know from Mark Twain’s comment on an obituary that he once had the pleasure of reading about himself, the report of a death can (...)
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  17. Logical Content and Empirical Significance.Ken Gemes - 1998 - In Paul Weingartner, Gerhard Schurz & Georg Dorn (eds.), The Role of Pragmatics in Contemporary Philosophy: Proceedings of the 20th International Wittgenstein Symposium, 10-16 August 1997, Kirchberg am Wechsel (Austria). Vienna: Verlag Halder-Pichler-Tempsky.
    In this paper I will investigate the possibility of completing a Positivist style account of demarcation. One reason for pursuing this project is that standard criticisms of Positivism do not have the bite against the demarcation project that they are often assumed to have. To argue this will be the burden of the first part of this paper. The other reason is that new research in logic has provided machinery not available to the Positivists; machinery that shows promise for solving (...)
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  18. Emotivism and the Verification Principle.Alexander Miller - 1998 - 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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  19. Esbozo de Ontoepistemosemántica (Sketch of Ontoepistemosemantics).C. Ulises Moulines - 1998 - Theoria 13 (1):141-159.
    En este trabajo sc presenta un marco general en el que desarrollar una “ontoepistemo-semántica” para las teodas científicas y sus terminos característicos. En primer lugar, se defiende la esencialidad de los aspectos ontologicos y epistemológicos para la semantica y se hacen explícitos los principios generales que constituyen dicho marco. A continuación, se aplican estos principios al análisis ontoepistemosemántico de cada uno de los tres tipos principales de términos científicos: términos relacionales y funcionales con contenido empírico, términos matemáticos puros y términos (...)
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  20. (1951) The Verification Theory and Reductionism.W. V. Quine - 1996 - In The Emergence of Logical Empiricism Garland Publishing.
  21. Exchange on the Cognitive Dimension as a Problem for Empirical Research in Science Studies.Loet Leydesdorff - 1994 - Social Epistemology 8 (2):91 – 107.
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  22. The Logical Analysis of Scientific Language According to Carnap.Ramon Cirera - 1993 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 45 (1):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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  23. A Defensible Formulation of the Verification Principle.S. Jack Odell & James F. Zartman - 1982 - Metaphilosophy 13 (1):65–74.
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  24. Is a Criterion of Verifiability Possible?L. Jonathan Cohen - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):347-352.
    The purpose of this paper is to try to set the record a little straighter about the idea of a verifiability criterion.
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  25. Significance, Necessity, and Verification.L. Goddard - 1980 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 21 (2):193-215.
  26. Truth-Conditions, Bivalence, and Verification.John McDowell - 1976 - In G. Evans & J. McDowell (eds.), Truth and Meaning. Clarendon Press.
  27. Metaphysics and Verification Revisited.Kai Nielsen - 1975 - Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):75-93.
  28. The Methodological Symmetry Between Verification and Falsification.Friedrich Rapp - 1975 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 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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  29. The Scientific and Technological Revolution: Social Effects and Prospects.Robert Daglish (ed.) - 1972 - Moscow: Progress Publishers.
  30. The Logic of Empirical Theories. [REVIEW]Michael Resnik - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (3):421-423.
    CONTENTS: 1 Introductory Remark; 2 Formalism of Empirical Theories; 3 Semantics of Formalized Languages; 4 Interpretation of Empirical Theories; 5 Interpretation of Observational Terms; 6 Interpretation of Theoretical Terms; 7 Main Types of Meaning Postulates for Theoretical Terms; 8 Some Other Kinds of Meaning Postulates for Theoretical Terms; 9 Main Types of Statements in an Empirical Theory; 10 Towards a More Realistic Account; 11 Concluding Remarks; 12 Bibliographical Note.
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  31. The Cognitive Status of Scientific Theories.Ronald Fredrick Hough - 1970 - Dissertation, The Ohio State University
  32. The Logic of Empirical Theories.Marian Przełęcki - 1969 - London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    The title of this monograph needs explanation. It certainly sounds too promising. A more adequate, though more cumbersome one, would read: the logical syntax and semantics of the language of empirical theories. The treatment of this subject in the present monograph needs further qualifications. It focusses on what is characteristic of empirical theories as opposed to others, viz. mathematical ones. Now the difference between these two kinds of theories lies evidently, not in their syntax, but semantics. This is why our (...)
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  33. Correspondence Rules.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 1969 - Philosophy of Science 36 (3):280-290.
    The traditional role which correspondence rules, coordinating definitions, or semantical rules, have in a logical analysis of a scientific theory is questioned by providing an alternative analysis. The alternative account suggests that scientific theories are "meaningful" prior to the establishment of correspondence rules, and that correspondence rules are introduced to permit explanation and testing in the "observational" sector. The role of models is briefly assessed in connection with this prior or "antecedent theoretical meaning," and a causal sequence analysis of a (...)
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  34. The Verification Principle: Its Problems and Development.Shane Andre - 1966 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
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  35. On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language.Benson Mates - 1964 - In V. C. Chappell (ed.), Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. Dover Publications. pp. 161 – 171.
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  36. Theoretical Terms and Partial Interpretation.Peter Achinstein - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (54):89-105.
  37. On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language.Benson Mates - 1958 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1 (1-4):161 – 171.
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  38. The Verification of Historical Theses.Alan Donagan - 1956 - Philosophical Quarterly 6 (24):193-208.
  39. Comments on Verification.L. E. Palmieri - 1956 - Theoria 22 (1):43-48.
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  40. Verification and Descriptive Predicates.L. E. Palmieri - 1954 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (4):548-550.
  41. Ayer on Verification of Negative Statements.Erik Gotlind - 1954 - Journal of Philosophy 51 (17):490-496.
  42. The Verification Theory of Meaning: A Comment.C. I. Lewis - 1954 - Philosophical Review 63 (2):193-196.
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  43. The Verification Theory of Meaning.Everett J. Nelson - 1954 - Philosophical Review 63 (2):182-192.
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  44. A Note on Meaning and Verification.Alan R. White - 1954 - Mind 63 (249):66-69.
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  45. On Meaning and Verification.J. L. Evans - 1953 - Mind 62 (245):1-19.
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  46. The Verification Principle.Gilbert Ryle - 1951 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 5 (3/4=17/18):243.
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  47. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & Alonso Church - 1950 - Analysis 11:87.
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  48. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & John Watling - 1950 - Analysis 11 (4):87 - 89.
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  49. A Note on Verification.Frederick C. Copleston - 1950 - 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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  50. Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning.Carl G. Hempel - 1950 - 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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