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Flashcards in 20th centuray perspectives religious language Deck (44)
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analytic statements

- a statement that is true by definition

- e.g. 'bachelors are unmarried '


synthetic statements

- a statement which needs eternal evidence to verify if it's true or false

- e.g. all swans are white


background on the Vienna circle

- the logical positivists

- group of philosophers in the 1920's who were members of the origin circle

- Includes Schlick and Neurath

- built on empirical such as Lock and Hume


what is the verification principle

the belief that statements are only meaningful if they can be verified by the senses. Verified by experience or tautology


define tautology

a logical statement that we can know to be true by definition

type of analytic statement


explain the strong verification principle

- it can be verified by an actual statement

- if it's is a tautology = a logical statement true by definition

- therefore, religious language cannot be verified by experience and is not a tautology so religious language is meaningless

- e.g. 'a round circle' is meaningful as it is a tautology
- e.g. 'all Ravens are black' is meaningless as it cannot prove it at this moment


4 problems with the strong verification principle

- cannot make statements about history because you can't prove them through your experiences at this moment. E.g. no empirical observations now that can verify the facts about the life of julius Caesar

- scientific laws become meaningless. E.g. 'gravity is constant in all places on earth' - cannot be verified as cannot be in two places at once

- expressing an opinion about a piece of art becomes meaningless

- not left with much to talk about


swinburnes argument against the strong verification principle

- universal statements cannot be known in practice

- e.g. 'all Ravens are black '


explain Ayer's weak verification principle

- a statement is only meaningful if ; it can be verified by principle ( you can describe what observations would be needed even if they are not possible ) of if it is a tautology

- e.g. 'all swans are white ' is meaningful as can be verified by principle. I could find every swan in the world and see if they are all white

- e.g. 'a circle is round ' is meaningful as it is a tautology

- e.g. 'love your enemies' is meaningless as it isn't a tautology and it cannot be verified by principle


why are morals, opinions, science, historical statements and religious statements meaningless according to Ayer's weak verification principle

- aren't tautologies and cannot be verified by principle


what is a criticism of Ayer's weak verification principle ?

- could be argued that religious statements can be verified in principle

- as can look at accounts, read the bible, just in the same way we do with historical statements


what is Hick's argument

- at the point of death we will have evidence of gods existence as we will perceive God

- God will be shown to exist to those who already thought God did exists

- he calls this 'eschatological verification '


what is Swinburne argument against the logical positivist

- a statement can be meaningful even if there is no way of empirically verifying it

- analogy from toy story : toys in a cupboard. Toys come out at night when no one observes them. Situation is still meaningful even though it is unverifiable


explain Flew's argument on the falsification principal

- parable of the garden by John wisdom

- one explorer believes there is a gardener, the other doesn't

- set up trade but no gardener is found

- believer continues to believe there is a gardener but story has now changed; must be an invisible gardener

- suggesting that religious claims about the world aren't really claims at all as they cannot be testified

- when challenged, the believer waters down their claim. Religious claims suffer 'the death of a thousand qualifications'

- strength = can see believers watering down claims. E.g. problem of evil. Claim that ' God loves people' is then reduced to 'God loves people but allows free will'


explain Hare's argument for the falsification principle

- lunatic convinced that all professors want to kill him

- friends show him the kindest professors but he still isn't convinced

- still has a blink (belief that isn't altered despite evidence against it) that professors want to kill him

- suggests that religious beliefs are blinks

- we all have blinks that are individual to us

- blinks are non cognitive and cannot be proven to be false ( falsified )

- counter argument to Flew as suggesting that you cannot apply scientific criteria to religious language ( evidence )


explain Mitchell's argument on the falsification principle

- during wars resistance fights meets a stranger who persuades him that he is a secret commander of the resistance despite sometimes working undercover

- the stranger sometimes helps but it also seen in the uniform of the opposition

- when challenge the partisan says ' the stranger knows best '

- suggest that there is evidence which counts for and against belief

- however, believer doesn't allow the evidence to count against belief as they have faith


define popper's falsification principle

- a principle for assessing wether statements are genuine scientific assertions by considering whether any evidence could ever disprove it


define blink

- a basic belief that is not altered despite empirical evidence against it


why did Karl Popper devise the falsification theory

- as a test for what is science and what is a theory that is pretending to be science


explanation of Karl Popper's falsification theory

- when scientists make a claim, they invite others to test their hypothesis to see if it can be disproved

- you only need 1 piece of evidence to go against your hypothesis to prove it to be false.

- this is unlike the verification principle which suggests you need all the evidence to disprove it.

- 'all swans are white ' according to the verification principle would mean you would need to find all the swans if the world to see if it was true

- with the falsification theory you would just need to find 1 black sawn to prove the statement to be false


summary of Hare

- bliks
- parable of the student who believes professors want to kill him
- counter to Flew as Hare is suggesting that you cannot apply scientific criteria ( evidence) to religious language
- weakness= bliks are different for everyone
- weakness = may seem inadequate as believes claiming that 'God loves us' aren't just claiming a subjective truth; they believe to be making a claim about reality as a whole


summary of Flew

- parable of the gardeners

- religious statements cannot be tested

- believes water down their claims so they cannot be falsified

- strength = can see believes watering down their claims, E.g. problem of evil or why God doesn't answer our prayers

- strength against believes qualifying their assertion = if God is perfect you wouldn't have to qualify him


summary of Mitchell

- parable of resistance worker and stranger

- evidence counts for an against belief. Don't allow every dense against belief to over rule as have faith in God due to connection

- rejects idea that religious beliefs are blinks

- recognises the role of evidence in a way that hare doesn't

- weakness = how long does something cause doubt before we suggest it's false ?

- supports Flew's idea that religious statements are claims but sees a genuine role in faith

- weakness= if believes don't give up on their religious assertions then surely they are qualifying God too

- counter = Mitchell's would reply saying they aren't qualifying their statements because they are allowing counter evidence


what is Wittgenstein quote

'philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday '

problem happen when you use words in the wrong context


explain Wittgenstein's language games theory

- it is a way of explaining that language is like playing a game with rules

- within society we have rules about how words are used

- e.g. if I point at a chair and say hamster then someone would correct me in the same way if I moved a chess piece incorrectly

- for religious statements there is not a difference of opinion where one viewpoint is right and one is wrong, there are just two different ways of seeing it

- e.g. saying 'God is loving' fits in with the rules of the Christian religion but not with atheism. The way we use language depends on the context

- we have to be a part of someone's game in order to understand the meaning of their language


2 examples to explain Wittgenstein's language games theory

- 'sound' means good according to teenage slang. But it means noise according to the older generation. Context dependent

- Islamic religion sees 'Jesus' as prophet but for Christians it means the son of God


3 criticisms of hare

- believers claiming 'God is love' aren't just claiming a subjective truth- they believe they are making a claim about reality as a whole

- not all blinks are equal, they are some sane and some insane blinks. Insane = hitter is good. Sane - God is loving. We need to be able to distinguish the difference

- blinks are different to each person


2 strengths and one weakness of flew

- strength = if God is perfect you wouldn't have to qualify your assumptions (Flew's argument against believes )

- strength = we can see believes qualifying their arguments . E.g. 'people pray for healing but it does not happen ' try to justify it by saying that God has a plan, he answers prays indirectly and he can't answer all prayers etc

- weakness = not all believers are like this. Some believers would allow falsification. This is Mitchell's argument against flew


weakness and counter argument of Mitchell

- how far does something cause doubt before we suggest it's false? If believers dint guys up in their assertion then surely they are qualifying their statements also

- Mitchell would respond saying they aren't qualifying their statements as the are allowing counter evidence


how does Mitchell support flew ?

- the idea that religious statements are claims but sees a genuine role for faith