Ayer's Verificationism

Mind Map by TeenySweeney, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by TeenySweeney about 6 years ago


A-Levels Philosophy (Religious Language) Mind Map on Ayer's Verificationism, created by TeenySweeney on 11/29/2013.

Resource summary

Ayer's Verificationism
1 Verifyability in principle
1.1 "There is life on Mars"
1.1.1 Verifiable in PRINCIPLE, but we don't have the technology to find out in PRACTICE.
2 Practical verification
2.1 Can be tested in reality
3 Strong verification
3.1 Observation and experience...conclusively verified.
4 Weak Verification
4.1 Observation and experience...probable
4.2 "All human beings are mortal"
4.2.1 We would need to kill every human being who lives and will live. This is impossible, but we accept it as fact.
5 Language is only meaningful if it can be verified by sense observation.
6 Ayer's Second Edition
6.1 The distinction between strong and weak is not a real distinction
6.2 Rejects putative (assuming) statements
6.3 Language is only meaningful if it is analytic or empirically verifiable.
6.4 Weak verification allows meaning to everything and is therefore too liberal.
6.5 Single experiences
6.5.1 An experience, while it may not be describable, is verified by it's occurrence.
6.6 Directly verifiable statements
6.6.1 A statement that is verifiable by observation
6.7 Indirectly verifiable statements
6.7.1 The statement cannot be verified by observation, but by supporting statements which can
6.8 Criticisms of Verificationism
6.8.1 Verificationism is not verifiable
6.8.2 God-talk is eschatologically verifiable


  • John Hick
  • Religion is verifiable in principle, so it meets the conditions of verification. (Verifiable in principle but not falsifiable)
6.8.3 Strong verification excludes many areas of knowledge (There is no sense observation available for historical facts) Swinburne: It excludes universal statements like 'water boils at 100 degrees"
6.8.4 What counts as evidence, exactly? Swinburne: There are many areas of debate where getting people to agree on what counts as evidence would be the issue.
6.8.5 Statements can be meaningful and unverifiable Swinburne: Toys in a cupboard.


  • The toys only come out at night. Meaningful but unverifiable. Schrodinger's cat


  • A radioactive particle could kill the cat at any time. If you open the box you could trigger it. You can't verify if the cat is dead or alive
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