The Verification of Metaphysical Statements

  • Louis O. Kattsoff


In this chapter I want to consider the following problem. Suppose we have a metaphysical language (called ‘M’) and a statement in it ‘S’; under what conditions can we say that S in M is verified? It is important to note that I am not asking under what conditions we can say that S is verified in M, but under what conditions S which occurs in M may be said to be verified. The difference between ‘S is verified in M’ and ‘S in M is verified’ should be clear. The former leaves us in M and allows the possibility that S may be verified with reference to M yet not with reference to the extralinguistic state of affairs to which it refers. The latter means that S expressed in the terms used to construct M is verified with reference to that which it intends. So it may be possible to verify, e.g., the statement “the real is the rational” in Hegelian language, i.e., it may be shown to be supported by other statements in Hegel’s system, yet not be verified in terms of the world about us. To put the matter in another way, the first may mean that S is verified in M in the sense that it can be translated into other statements which either are basic statements in M (axioms) or are derivable from such basic statements in M (truth as coherence); the second may mean that what S intends as actually the case, is actually the case (correspondence theory of truth). Let me call the former type ‘formal verification’ and the latter ‘material verification.’


Observation Statement Formal Verification Correspondence Theory Declarative Sentence Declarative Statement 
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  1. 1.
    Stephen Pepper, World Hypotheses ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1942 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carl G. Hempel, “Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning,” Revue Internationale de Philosophie II, (1950), pp. 163–185.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Cf. Benson Mates, Synonymity (University of California Publications in Philosophy 25, 1950), pp. 111–136 for a discussion of this notion. What I call `translation’ is called ‘interpretation’ by Mates.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1956

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis O. Kattsoff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaUSA

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