About this topic
Summary A variety of topics are covered under this rubric.  In general, most philosophical questions relating to the language of science are of a broadly semantic nature, having to do with the meaning, meaningfulness or reference of scientific discourse about the world.  The question of the meaningfulness (or cognitive significance) of scientific discourse arose in the context of the logical positivists of the Vienna Circle, who proposed a principle of verification (or verifiability theory of meaning).  The logical empiricist successors of logical positivism sought to analyze the semantic content of theoretical discourse on the basis of the connection between theoretical discourse and observational vocabulary, for example, in terms of correspondence rules.  In the context of the "historical turn" associated with Thomas Kuhn, N.R. Hanson and Paul Feyerabend, the idea of meaning variance (conceptual change) came to the fore, as it was argued that the meaning of observational vocabulary depends upon theoretical context, and undergoes variation in the transition between theories.  The idea of meaning variance gave rise to the semantic version of the claim of the incommensurability of scientific theories.  In response to the problem of meaning variance, a number of authors (e.g. Scheffler, Putnam, Kripke) advocated an emphasis on the reference of scientific terms.  In the attempt to show that reference may survive theoretical change, appeal was often made to the "new" or "causal" theory of reference advocated by Kripke.
Key works Two classic references for logical positivist and empiricist approaches to scientific language are Carnap 1936 and Schlick 1936.  Feyerabend's early argument for meaning variance may be found in Feyerabend 1957.  Putnam discusses the question of meaning change in science, proposing a turn to reference in Putnam 1973.  Michael Devitt deals with topics relating to semantic incommensurability in Devitt 1979.  Thomas Kuhn offers his response to some criticism directed against the claim of incommensurability in Kuhn 1983.
Introductions Sankey 2000
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  1. Book Review:Faraday to Einstein: Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories Nancy J. Nersessian. [REVIEW]Patrick Enfield - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (4):641-.
  2. Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice.Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.) - 2012 - de Gruyter.
    Combining philosophical and historical scholarship, the articles in this volume focus on scientific concepts, rather than theories, as units of analysis. They thereby contribute to a growing literature about the role of concepts in scientific research. The authors are particularly interested in exploring the dynamics of research; they investigate the ways in which scientists form and use concepts, rather than in what the concepts themselves represent. The fields treated range from mathematics to virology and genetics, from nuclear physics to psychology, (...)
  3. 'Language, Truth and Reason' 30years Later.Ian Hacking - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (4):599-609.
    This paper traces the origins of the styles project, originally presented as ‘styles of scientific reasoning’. ‘Styles of scientific thinking & doing’ is a better label; the styles can also be called genres, or, ways of finding out. A. C. Crombie’s template of six fundamentally distinct ones was turned into a philosophical tool, but with a tinge of Paul Feyerabend’s anarchism. Ways of finding out are not defined by necessary and sufficient conditions, but can be recognized as distinct within a (...)
  4. Logical Positivism and the Interpretation of Scientific Theories.Norwood Russell Hanson - 1969 - In Peter Achinstein & Stephen Francis Barker (eds.), The Legacy of Logical Positivism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  5. The Reality of Operationism: A Rejoinder.Howard Kendler - 1981 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 2 (3).
  6. The Myth of Operationism.Thomas Leahy - 1980 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 1 (2).
Cognitive Significance in Science
  1. Theoretical Terms and Partial Interpretation.Peter Achinstein - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (54):89-105.
  2. The Verification Principle: Its Problems and Development.Shane Andre - 1966 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
  3. Verification and Experience.A. J. Ayer - 1936 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 37:137 - 156.
  4. On the Cognitive Status of Our Best Physical Theories.Jeffrey Barrett - unknown
    There is good reason to suppose that our best physical theories are false: In addition to its own internal problems, the standard formulation of quantum mechanics is logically incompatible with special relativity. There is also good reason to suppose that we have no concrete idea concerning what it might mean to claim that these theories are approximately or vaguely true. I will argue that providing a concrete understanding the approximate or vague truth of our current physical theories is not a (...)
  5. XII.—Verification.I. Berlin - 1939 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39 (1):225-248.
  6. Verification.I. Berlin - 1938 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 39:225 - 248.
  7. Testability and Meaning of Observation Terms and Theoretical Terms.Lukas Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
  8. Testovateľnosť a význam observačných a teoretických termínov.Lukáš Bielik - 2011 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 18 (3):384-397.
    Carnap’s analysis of the language of science had presupposed too close a connection between the semantics and testability. The core problem of the logical empiricist tradition was to show how to provide the interpretation of theoretical terms and hence the explanation of their application to observable entities by means of observation terms. It is argued that the utilization of a much more expressive semantic theory which identifies meanings with hyperintensional entities leads to a clarification of the competencies of semantics and (...)
  9. Meaning and Testability in the Structuralist Theory of Science.Jesús P. Zamora Bonilla - 2003 - Erkenntnis 59 (1):47 - 76.
    The connection between scientific knowledge and our empirical access to realityis not well explained within the structuralist approach to scientific theories. I arguethat this is due to the use of a semantics not rich enough from the philosophical pointof view. My proposal is to employ Sellars–Brandom's inferential semantics to understand how can scientific terms have empirical content, and Hintikka's game-theoretical semantics to analyse how can theories be empirically tested. The main conclusions are that scientific concepts gain their meaning through `basic (...)
  10. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & Alonso Church - 1950 - Analysis 11:87.
  11. Amending the Verification Principle.Robert Brown & John Watling - 1950 - Analysis 11 (4):87 - 89.
  12. Testability and Meaning, 1936.Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Kwartalnik Filozoficzny 14 (1):55-61.
  13. Testability and Meaning--Continued.Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Philosophy of Science 4 (1):1-40.
  14. Testability and Meaning (Part 2).Rudolf Carnap - 1937 - Philosophy of Science 4 (4):1-40.
  15. Testability and Meaning.Rudolf Carnap - 1936 - Philosophy of Science 3 (4):419-471.
  16. Testability and Meaning (Part 1).Rudolf Carnap - 1936 - Philosophy of Science 3 (4):420-71.
  17. The Logical Analysis of Scientific Language According to Carnap.Ramon Cirera - 1993 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 45:1-19.
    "Testability and Meaning" is one of Carnap's best-known works. It has been usually seen as one of the main sources of the received view of the philosophy of science, and it is normally read in the hght of the tradition it originated. Nevertheless, this reading detaches the text from the philosophical project to which it belongs. This paper aims to situate Camap's article in its proper philosophical place, which is found in the programme initiated in the Logische Syntax, a programme (...)
  18. Is a Criterion of Verifiability Possible?L. Jonathan Cohen - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):347-352.
    The purpose of this paper is to try to set the record a little straighter about the idea of a verifiability criterion.
  19. A Note on Verification.Frederick C. Copleston - 1950 - Mind 59 (236):522-529.
    The author, using bertrand russell's "human knowledge": "it's scope and limits", makes a point of departure where russell distinguishes between "meaning" and "significance." the author contends that in using these distinctions in a metaphysical argument, his purpose is not to show whether or not the argument is possible, but to show the problem of validity of metaphysical arguments as the remaining fundamental problem in regards to metaphysics. (staff).
  20. The Scientific and Technological Revolution: Social Effects and Prospects.Robert Daglish (ed.) - 1972 - Moscow: Progress Publishers.
  21. The Verification of Historical Theses.Alan Donagan - 1956 - Philosophical Quarterly 6 (24):193-208.
  22. Verification, Verifiability, and Meaningfulness.C. J. Ducasse - 1936 - Journal of Philosophy 33 (9):230-236.
  23. Is Scientific Verification Possible in Philosophy?C. J. Ducasse - 1935 - Philosophy of Science 2 (2):121-127.
  24. Verification and Descriptive Predicates.L. E. Palmieri - 1954 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (4):548-550.
  25. On Meaning and Verification.J. L. Evans - 1953 - Mind 62 (245):1-19.
  26. Dr Joad and the Verification Principle.J. N. Findlay - 1949 - Hibbert Journal 48:120.
  27. Logical Content and Empirical Significance.Ken Gemes - manuscript
    In this paper I will investigate the possibility of completing a Positivist style account of demarcation. One reason for pursuing this project is that standard criticisms of Positivism do not have the bite against the demarcation project that they are often assumed to have. To argue this will be the burden of the first part of this paper. The other reason is that new research in logic has provided machinery not available to the Positivists; machinery that shows promise for solving (...)
  28. Significance, Necessity, and Verification.L. Goddard - 1980 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 21 (2):193-215.
  29. Ayer on Verification of Negative Statements.Erik Götlind - 1954 - Journal of Philosophy 51 (17):490-496.
  30. Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning.Carl G. Hempel - 1950 - 11 Rev. Intern. De Philos 41 (11):41-63.
    The fundamental tenet of modern empiricism is the view that all non-analytic knowledge is based on experience. Let us call this thesis the principle of empiricism. [1] Contemporary logical empiricism has added [2] to it the maxim that a sentence makes a cognitively meaningful assertion, and thus can be said to be either true or false, only if it is either (1) analytic or self-contradictory or (2) capable, at least in principle, of experiential test. According to this so-called empiricist criterion (...)
  31. The Cognitive Status of Scientific Theories.Ronald Fredrick Hough - 1970 - Dissertation, The Ohio State University
  32. Carnap's Empiricism, Lost and Found.Robert G. Hudson - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 43:81-88.
    Recent scholarship (by mainly Michael Friedman, but also by Thomas Uebel) on the philosophy of Rudolf Carnap covering the period from the publication of Carnap’s’ 1928 book Der Logische Aufbau der Welt through to the mid to late 1930’s has tended to view Carnap as espousing a form of conventionalism (epitomized by his adoption of the principle of tolerance) and not a form of empirical foundationalism. On this view, it follows that Carnap’s 1934 The Logical Syntax of Language is the (...)
  33. Going Around the Vienna Circle: Wittgenstein and Verification.Michael Hymers - 2005 - Philosophical Investigations 28 (3):205–234.
    I argue that Wittgenstein’s short-lived verificationism (c.1929-30) differed from that of his contacts in the Vienna Circle in not being a reductionist view. It lay the groundwork for his later views that the meaning of a word is determined by its use and that certain "propositions of the form of empirical propositions" (On Certainty, §§96, 401, 402) act as "norm[s] of description" (On Certainty,§§167, 321). He gave it up once he realized that it contradicted his rejection of logical atomism, and (...)
  34. Verification, Meaning, and Truth.Felix Kaufmann - 1943 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (2):267-284.
  35. Strong and Weak Verification.M. Lazerowitz - 1939 - Mind 48 (190):202-213.
  36. Strong and Weak Verification II.Morris Lazerowitz - 1950 - Mind 59 (235):345-357.
  37. The Verification Theory of Meaning: A Comment.C. I. Lewis - 1954 - Philosophical Review 63 (2):193-196.
  38. Exchange on the Cognitive Dimension as a Problem for Empirical Research in Science Studies.Loet Leydesdorff - 1994 - Social Epistemology 8 (2):91 – 107.
  39. Criteria of Empirical Significance: A Success Story.Sebastian Lutz - manuscript
    The sheer multitude of criteria of empirical significance has been taken as evidence that the pre-analytic notion being explicated is too vague to be useful. I show instead that a significant number of these criteria—by Ayer, Popper, Przełęcki, Suppes, and David Lewis, among others—not only form a coherent whole, but also connect directly to the theory of definition, the notion of empirical content as explicated by Ramsey sentences, and the theory of measurement; two criteria by Carnap and Sober are trivial, (...)
  40. Armchair Philosophy Naturalized.Sebastian Lutz - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Carnap suggests that philosophy can be construed as being engaged solely in conceptual engineering. I argue that since many results of the sciences can be construed as stemming from conceptual engineering as well, Carnap’s account of philosophy can be methodologically naturalistic. This is also how he conceived of his account. That the sciences can be construed as relying heavily on conceptual engineering is supported by empirical investigations into scientific methodology, but also by a number of conceptual considerations. I present a (...)
  41. Carnap on Empirical Significance.Sebastian Lutz - 2017 - Synthese 194 (1):217-252.
    Carnap’s search for a criterion of empirical significance is usually considered a failure. I argue that the results from two out of his three different approaches are at the very least problematic, but that one approach led to success. Carnap’s criterion of translatability into logical syntax is too vague to allow for definite results. His criteria for terms—introducibility by chains of reduction sentences and his criterion from “The Methodological Character of Theoretical Concepts”—are almost trivial and have no clear relation to (...)
  42. Verification and Understanding.Margaret MacDonald - 1933 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 34:143 - 156.
  43. On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language.Benson Mates - 1964 - In V. C. Chappell (ed.), Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. Dover Publications. pp. 161 – 171.
  44. On the Verification of Statements About Ordinary Language.Benson Mates - 1958 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1 (1-4):161 – 171.
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