warranted assertibility

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John Dewey (1859—1952) American philosopher and educationist

verification principle


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Term introduced by Dewey for the status a proposition gains when it is warranted through the ongoing, self-correcting processes of enquiry. Dewey held a resolutely dynamic view of these processes, opposing them to the static picture in which propositions gain the title of knowledge through a logical relationship with basic experience. The term is also used in connection with ‘assertibility condition’ theories of meaning. These are opposed to truth-conditional theories by denying that recognition of the circumstances under which a sentence is true can be fundamental to understanding it. It may be that we cannot display such recognition, since the circumstances may be beyond us (e.g. they may be lost in time, or might require infinite computational powers). Instead, understanding is guaranteed by knowing what would warrant the assertion of the sentence. The idea bears affinities with the verification principle.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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