Verification: The Hysteron Proteron Argument

  • Francis Jeffry Pelletier University of Alberta
  • Bernard Linsky University of Alberta


This paper investigates the strange case of an argument that was directed against a positivist verification principle. We find an early occurrence of the argument in a talk by the phenomenologist Roman Ingarden at the 1934 International Congress of Philosophy in Prague, where Carnap and Neurath were present and contributed short rejoinders. We discuss the underlying presuppositons of the argument, and we evaluate whether the attempts by Carnap (especially) actually succeed in answering this argument. We think they don’t, and offer instead a few sociological thoughts about why the argument seems to have disappeared from the profession’s evaluaton of the positivist criterion of verifiability.


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