2.15 Verification

Category: Logic and Mathematics

Keywords: statements, statement, verification, ayer, factual, criterion, criteria, logically, stated, meaningless, ments, hypothetical, prediction, certainty, formulated

Number of Articles: 403
Percentage of Total: 1.3%
Rank: 29th

Weighted Number of Articles: 506
Percentage of Total: 1.6%
Rank: 12th

Mean Publication Year: 1959.6
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1961.9
Median Publication Year: 1960
Modal Publication Year: 1950

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0421)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Analytic/Synthetic (0.0394)
Topic with Least Overlap: Evolutionary Biology (0.00067)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Game Theory (0.00119)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the verificationtopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1950 when 4.5% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1884 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.15 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.41: Verification.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Verificationtopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 2.0%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.3%. Ethics - 0.5%. Philosophical Review - 1.1%. Analysis - 3.3%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.1%. Journal of Philosophy - 1.4%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.4%. Philosophy of Science - 1.8%. Noûs - 0.9%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.6%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.9%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1947 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 4.5% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1884 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.42: Verification articles in each journal.

Table 2.37: Characteristic articles of the verification topic.
Table 2.38: Highly cited articles in the verification topic.


This is one of the main places in the model where logical positivism is seen: a sustained discussion from about 1936 (the publication of Language, Truth and Logic) to 1980 of the verification principle. It feels to me like this model really gets going when the problems for the verification principle are most pressing—many of these articles are about problems for, and the rapidly diminishing probability of salvaging, the verification principle. For instance, the second highest probability the model gives to an article being in this topic is Robert Brown and John Watling’s “Amending the Verification Principle(Brown and Watling 1951), which as early as 1951 is already deep into the “one patch per puncture” approach to saving the principle.

The model didn’t quite know what to do with papers about conditionals in general. I’ll talk about them more in what follows, because they are a tricky problem. But it turns out a bunch of pre-Lewisian papers on subjunctive conditionals ended up here as well. That’s not surprising; they are a particularly tricky problem for verificationists to handle.