Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies

By E. D. Klemke | Go to book overview

16. Truth and Probability

A. J. Ayer

Having shown how the validity of a priori propositions is determined, we shall now put forward the criterion which is used to determine the validity of empirical propositions. In this way we shall complete our theory of truth. For it is easy to see that the purpose of a "theory of truth" is simply to describe the criteria by which the validity of the various kinds of propositions is determined. And as all propositions are either empirical or a priori, and we have already dealt with the a priori, all that is now required to complete our theory of truth is an indication of the way in which we determine the validity of empirical propositions. And this we shall shortly proceed to give.

* * *

In saying that we propose to show "how propositions are validated," we do not of course mean to suggest that all propositions are validated in the same way. On the contrary we lay stress on the fact that the criterion by which we determine the validity of an a priori or analytic proposition is not sufficient to determine the validity of an empirical or synthetic proposition. For it is characteristic of empirical propositions that their validity is not purely formal. To say that a geometrical proposition, or a system of geometrical propositions, is false is to say that it is self-contradictory. But an empirical proposition, or a system of empirical propositions, may be free from contradiction, and still be false. It is said to be false, not because it is formally defective, but because it fails to satisfy some material criterion. And it is our business to discover what this criterion is.

We have been assuming so far that empirical propositions, though they differ from a priori propositions in their method of validation, do not differ in this respect among themselves. Having found that all a priori propositions are validated in the same way, we have taken it for granted that this holds good of empirical propositions also. But this assumption would be challenged by a great

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Contemporary Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 9
  • Acknowledgments 11
  • Introduction - The Rise of Analytic Philosophy 15
  • Notes 20
  • The Pre-Analytic Tradition 21
  • Introduction 23
  • Idealism 31
  • Reality and Idealism 31
  • Selected Bibliography 53
  • Pragmatism 55
  • How to Make Our Ideas Clear 55
  • Notes 69
  • Pragmaticism 71
  • Selected Bibliography 78
  • American Realism 79
  • The Program and First Platform of Six Realists 79
  • Notes 86
  • The Approach to Critical Realism 87
  • Notes 104
  • Selected Bibligraphy 107
  • Analytic and Linguistic Philosophies 109
  • Introduction 111
  • Notes 119
  • Realism and Common Sense 121
  • The Refutation of Idealism 121
  • Note 137
  • The Subject-Matter of Ethics 138
  • Notes 162
  • A Defence of Common Sense 163
  • Proof of an External World 184
  • Note 201
  • Selected Bibliography 203
  • Logical Atomism 205
  • Facts and Propositions 205
  • Note 212
  • Particulars, Predicates, and Relations 213
  • Note 222
  • Excursus into Metaphysics What There Is 223
  • Note 232
  • Selected Bibliography 233
  • Logical Positivism 235
  • The Elimination of Metaphysics 235
  • Notes 246
  • The Futiction of Philosophy 247
  • Notes 252
  • The a Priori 253
  • Notes 264
  • Truth and Probability 265
  • Notes 270
  • Critique of Ethics and Theology 271
  • Notes 284
  • Selected Bibliography 286
  • Conceptual Analysis 287
  • Systematically Misleading Expressions 287
  • Wittgenstein's Lectures in 1930-33 307
  • Notes 319
  • Philosophical Perplexity 320
  • Notes 331
  • Philosophy, Anxiety, and Novelty 332
  • Notes 337
  • Gods 338
  • Notes 351
  • Descartes' Myth 353
  • Selected Bibliography 365
  • Logico-Metaphysical Analysis 367
  • Logical Positivism, Language, and the Reconstruction of Metaphysics 367
  • Note 377
  • On What There Is 378
  • Notes 390
  • Two Dogmas of Empiricism 391
  • Notes 409
  • Selected Bibliography 410
  • Linguistic Analysis 411
  • Performative-Constative 411
  • Notes 419
  • Intention and Convention in Speech Acts 421
  • Notes 436
  • What is a Speech Act? 437
  • Notes 451
  • Selected Bibliography 452
  • General Works on Analytic Philosophy 453
  • Sources of More Complete Bibliographies 454
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