• PuerAzaelis
    49
    Verificationism might be seen as a thorough-going anti-realism, and the term ‘anti-realism’ has recently been generalised to cover a variety of theories, among which verificationism is a special case.

    Scruton, Modern Philosophy

    Would someone care to try to explain what the author meant here?
  • tim wood
    7k
    Looks like genus-species to me. Is that what you wanted to get?
  • PuerAzaelis
    49
    What does he mean when he says that verificationism is "anti-realism"?
  • David Mo
    960
    What does he mean when he says that verificationism is "anti-realism"?PuerAzaelis

    It refers to the hard version of empiricism. Only what is verifiable is real. The way to verify is observation. Observation is based on sensations. Nothing exists outside sensations. Sensations are in my mind, then nothing exists (or can be known) outside my mind. Signed: Berkeley.

    (Summarily said).
  • Michael
    9.6k
    What does he mean when he says that verificationism is "anti-realism"?PuerAzaelis

    Metaphysical realism is the position that the nature of (some) things and the truth of (some) statements is independent of how people perceive or understand them to be. Anti-realism then is a rejection of this position.

    Verificationism is the position that statements are only meaningful if they are empirically verifiable, which Scruton is claiming is incompatible with the realist position that truth is independent of human consideration, and so is anti-realist.

    Whereas I'd say there's a difference between being verifiable and being verified and that there may be an ineffable independent nature to the world, à la Kant's noumena. So strictly speaking one can be a metaphysical realist and a verificationist, where one believes that the everyday objects of perception are best understood in this anti-realist, verificationist manner but that we live in a shared, external world.
  • David Mo
    960
    TY!PuerAzaelis

    What means TY?
  • Michael
    9.6k
    What means TY?David Mo

    "Thank you"
  • David Mo
    960
    where one believesMichael

    It seems that a strict verificationist can only claim realism in terms of belief. That is, a strict demonstration of the outside world is impossible, but it is a reasonable and universal belief.
  • Nagase
    194


    I haven't read Scruton, but my bet would be that he is referring to Dummett's well-known (and controversial) anti-realist arguments that take as basis a verificationist account of meaning. Part of Dummett's strategy consisted in offering a new definition of realism and anti-realism that tied these positions more closely to linguistic meaning. In "Realism" (which you can find in Truth and Other Enigmas), for instance, Dummett defines realism and anti-realism (about certain phenomena) as follows:

    Realism I characterise as the belief that statements of the disputed class possess an objective truth-value, independently of our means of knowing it: they are true or false in virtue of a reality existing independently of us. The anti-realist opposes to this the view that statements of the disputed class are to be understood only by reference to the sort of thing which we can count as evidence for a statement of that class. That is, the realist holds that the meaning of statements of the disputed class are not directly tied to the kind of evidence for them that we can have, but consist in the manner of their determination as true or false by states of affairs whose existence is not dependent on our possession of evidence for them. The anti-realist insists, on the contrary, that the meanings of the these statements are tied directly to what we count as evidence for them, in such a way that a statement of the disputed class, if true at all, can be true only in virtue of something we could know and which we should count as evidence for its truth. The dispute concerns the notion of truth appropriate for statements of the disputed class; and this means that it is a dispute concerning the kind of meaning which these statements have. (p. 146)

    As is clear, Dummett thinks that the realist and the anti-realist are committed to giving a different semantics for the disputed class of statements. Whereas the realist will in general be comfortable with a truth-theoretic semantics, i.e. one that takes the meaning of a sentence to be encapsulated in its truth-conditions, the anti-realist will push towards a verification semantics, one that takes the meaning of a sentence to be given by its verification conditions. One example, dear to Dummett, is the mathematical case. A realist about mathematics will in general adopt a truth-theoretic semantics regarding mathematical statements, one that most likely does not differ from our usual semantics for natural languages. In this semantics, a name's semantic value (i.e. the semantic value of "pi") will be an object (the number pi), a predicate will refer to an extension, a sentence to a truth value, etc. An anti-realist, on the other hand, will, according to Dummett, adopt a constructivist or intuitionist semantics: a name's semantic value is a procedure for constructing the object in question, a predicate's semantic value will be a procedure for deciding whether or not something falls in its extension, a sentence's semantic value will be a proof, etc.
  • Michael
    9.6k
    Whereas I'd say there's a difference between being verifiable and being verified and that there may be an ineffable independent nature to the world, à la Kant's noumena. So strictly speaking one can be a metaphysical realist and a verificationist, where one believes that the everyday objects of perception are best understood in this anti-realist, verificationist manner but that we live in a shared, external world.Michael

    Looking back on this I might be incorrect. If the verificationist believes that statements are only meaningful if they are empirically verifiable then the statement "there exists an independent world" is only meaningful if it is empirically verifiable, but that might be a contradiction, and so perhaps verificationism isn't compatible with believing there to be a shared, external world.
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