Verification principle - mrslh Philosophy & Ethics

Today’s lesson will be successful if you can:
Explain the Verification Principle
Critique the Verification Principle
We started on Tuesday looking at the word
‘meaning’. This is because we need to find out
if religious language is meaningful.
Before we do this – try the activity on the sheet.
Can you work out whether these statements are
(Philosophy of Religion Statements Sheet)
Make a 6 grid Bingo grid with the following words:
Using the words from your glossary, make
a bingo grid with 6 words.
Can you a) recognise
b) explain these words in relation to the Verification Principle
Brainstorm everything you
have learned about the
Vienna Circle.
• A Group of Philosophers in the 1920’s and
30s’ in VIENNA
• Wittgenstein was a strong influence on
• They followed the thoughts of E Comte
• Led by a writer called Moritz Schlick
• They believed that theology was an
outdated way of looking at religion was
• Known as logical positivists (evidence
Sort these into Analytic and Synthetic statements
The table in the kitchen is round
All bachelors are unmarried
Frozen water is ice
Daisies are flowers
All men are arrogant
Two halves make a whole
Triangles have three sides
The president is dishonest
The strong verification principle states that only statements
that are analytic or empirically verifiable are meaningful. All
other statements are meaningless (not false).
Henry VIII was the King of England
Love of money is the root of all evil
God is Good
There is life on other planets
There are 180 degrees in a triangle
God exists
Dog’s bark
Jesus lived
I love my dog
I will go to heaven when I die
Which of these statements are empirically verifiable?
Create a table, outlining the advantages and
disadvantages of the Vienna Circle verification
Ideas for extra study
Homework task: when you are at home, go to youtube
logical positivism radio 4. Listen and make notes on
logical positivism (verification
Textbook – pages 227-230
Philosophy of Religion (Cole) Chapter 11
(This is a slightly harder read)
Preparation from Religious Language Booklet –
Falsification Principle
The Weak Verification Principle
A J Ayer
The key difference: a statement may not be provable:
however it may be possible to show that it is probably
true beyond all reasonable doubt.
Ayer’s version allows us to make statements about the
past, people’s emotions and to make predictions in
However, and key here is that Ayer believed that
religion and ethics are NOT
Create a table, outlining the advantages and
disadvantages of the Ayer’s weak verification
So, because God/Religion cannot be empirically
verified, to describe God/Religion as anything is
John Hick (1922 – 2012) came up with the a BRILLIANT
argument against logical positivism – we cannot
empirically verify the existence of God this side of heaven!
We may be able to sometime in the future. Now, who can
argue with that!
Ayer’s response was to argue that the
verification principle only applied to
statements and propositions, not whole theories
2 Choices:
1)Compare the strong and weak
verification principle. Outline the
strengths and weaknesses of both.
2)Stretch and Challenge option ‘The
Verification Principle cannot be
verified’ Write a couple of paragraphs
explaining this point and considering
whether Ayer’s criticism is sufficient.