PHIL 4120 Lecture Notes - Formal Science, Empiricism, Logical Truth

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Published on 15 Nov 2011
School
Dalhousie University
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 4120
Monday, March 7, 2011
A.J Ayer – Logical Positivism
Hume – knowledge was twofold: introspection and observation.
Logical positivist – we can only know by observation. [Ex. Teaching a child a term
(cow). Show the child a cow by exposing it to a cow. Child associates ‘cow’ with a cow.]
Terms like electron? Logical positivist – total set of the descriptions of the observable
world that can be confirmed in laboratories, etc. Know the consequences of it being true
that electrons exist, you know electrons exist.
If you know how the world would look for the sentence to be true, then you understand
the meaning
Can logical positivists make sense of the past?
Statements true by definition – Duncan is a bachelor – it follows that Duncan is
unmarried and a male
Teaching someone a term in terms of other terms you can point at.
Possible experience that the statement can verify if the statement was true
1. Truth/falsity can be told in a brief moment of experience (ex. Sense-data).
Inspecting your own observations
2. Terms of lists of observation sentences (ex. Electron – add up multiple
observations). Theoretical sentences – Empirical meaning
3. Logically determinant (ex. Bachelor)
Which statements fall into these categories?
Natural sciences, formal sciences do nothing more than work out logical consequences of
each other
Where do philosophical statements lie? Ex. God exists. LP – Define God? Not an
observation term, doesn’t stand for a set of such statements. Can’t define with
experiments you can perform. Statement God exists isn’t true or false – meaningless.
Ex. Picasso’s paintings are beautiful. No test or observation to find out if something is
objectively beautiful – unverifiable, therefore it has no meaning
Ex. It’s work to kill – no empirical property that says it’s wrong to kill.
3 areas of logical discourse LP don’t like: religion, aesthetics, ethics. No concrete
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Document Summary

Hume knowledge was twofold: introspection and observation. Logical positivist we can only know by observation. Show the child a cow by exposing it to a cow. Logical positivist total set of the descriptions of the observable world that can be confirmed in laboratories, etc. Know the consequences of it being true that electrons exist, you know electrons exist. If you know how the world would look for the sentence to be true, then you understand the meaning. Statements true by definition duncan is a bachelor it follows that duncan is unmarried and a male. Teaching someone a term in terms of other terms you can point at. Possible experience that the statement can verify if the statement was true: truth/falsity can be told in a brief moment of experience (ex. Inspecting your own observations: terms of lists of observation sentences (ex. Theoretical sentences empirical meaning: logically determinant (ex.

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