The Pragmatic Case for Positivism, 12/31
Why would anyone find the verification criterion plausible? In general, the positivist writers just dogmatically asserted it, then started deducing consequences from it.
Huemer pokes holes in positivism, which is easy to do. But if there is a philosophy that is free of holes, I don’t know what it is.
I think that positivism, whatever its flaws, has pragmatic uses. Positivism, as I understand it, is intended to enforce rigor in thought and in expressions of thought.
The verification criteria is that your statements should be testable in some way. “God exists” is not testable. The gas laws are testable. Positivists want to stamp out non-testable statements as meaningless. Maybe that goes too far.
But when you encounter a statement, such as “racial disparities are caused by systemic racism,” it is very worthwhile, in my opinion, to apply positivist criteria to evaluate it. Ask what hypothetical conditions could possibly make it false. If the way that it is used makes that statement non-testable, then I feel entitled to treat it as posturing by someone who has a closed mind.
As an absolutist philosophy, positivism fails. But if you want people to be good at critical thinking and you want them to be able to distinguish proper forms of argument from manipulative rhetoric, then teach them the principles of positivism.