Philosophy of Science As Developed by Empiricists David Hume and Logical Positivist Group Term Paper

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philosophy of science as developed by empiricists such as David Hume and completed by the logical positivist group. Why do they think truth can be best found by using the senses, the experimental method, and probability? Explain the verifiability theory and its meaning for such subjects as God, the super-natural, justice, morality, and political science. What are the advantages and the limitations of this philosophical view?

The "Verifiability" or "Verificationist Theory of meaning" states that to understand a statement and to verify it one must first begin with a statement that can be proven true or false through sensory data. (Logic: The Verifiablity Theory of Meaning, 2004) In the Empiricist philosophy towards science, the source of all meaning is ultimately human sensory experience. Only meaningful statements can be true or false. Only statements whose meaning can be verified in observational terms can be true or false. This is in contrast to 18th and 19th century speculative metaphysics. This school involved attempts to answer notions as to the nature of the absolute, or the nature of when something was nothing. Such metaphysics needed to be distinguished from genuine science, in the view of Hume and later, the Logical Positivists. (Logical Positivism, 2004)

Logical Positivists wanted to distinguish science from religion, metaphysics (conceived of as an attempt in philosophy to defend views about the nature of reality through reason alone), and pseudo-science like astrology. But Hume and the Logical Positivists also wanted to contradict the importance of deductive statements in philosophy. They believed that merely logical truths were trivial in the sense that they tell us nothing about the nature of the world. "Any sentence of the form 'Either P. Or not P', for instance, is a basic logical truth. But, like all merely logical truths sentences having this form assert nothing about how the world is." (Logical Positivism, 2004)

Instead, to prove a statement about the world, one must be able to prove it true or false in the specific context in which it is true. If there is no way to test the validity of a statement, and the statement is merely a deductive postulate in a logical syllogism, the statement is ultimately irrelevant and therefore meaningless. This is in contrast to the "Deductively Valid Inference" theory of the Rationalists which stated that "an inference such that there is no possible way in which the premises could be true and the conclusion false, it must be true. But Empiricists were interested in what "we only know what we have proven or observed thus far." When there is "no way to know if there will be a…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Boyd, Richard. "Confirmation, Semantics and the Interpretation of Scientific Theory." http://www.rpi.edu/~eglash/eglash.dir/SST/boyd.htm

Feiser. James. "David Hume (1711-1776): Metaphysics and Epistemology." The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/h/humeepis.htm

Logic: The Verifiability Theory of meaning. Theology Web. 11 Dec 2004

http://www.theology.edu/logic/logic10.htm

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