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verifiability principle



Coined by the philosopher Alfred Jules Ayer circa 1936.


verifiability principle

  1. (philosophy) The principle, especially in 20th-century empiricism, that a statement has meaning if, and only if, either it can be verified by means of empirical observations or it is logically true by definition.
    • 1962, Marvin Zimmerman, "The Status of the Verifiability Principle," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 22, no. 3, p. 334:
      It is generally agreed among most advocates of the Verifiability Principle that analytic and empirical statements exhaust the class of cognitively meaningful statements.
    • 2001, Samir Okasha, "Verificationism, Realism and Scepticism," Erkenntnis, vol. 55, no. 3,p. 376:
      Carnap, for example, invoked the verifiability principle to argue that the problem of the external world was a 'pseudo-problem'—for neither the proposition 'there is an external world' nor its negation is verifiable in experience, so both are meaningless.


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