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A Primer Of Semantics

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OGDEN AND RICHARDS                          65
tainty. No one can look into the future and predict exactly the consequences of human activity. And yet we must predict. And we do.
When we attempt to predict in the area of human affairs, the semantic procedure is to move from factsfrom what is known at that dateto opinions about what is not exactly known. And this is all we can do. Here there is no public truth to which to refer. There is, therefore, no referent. Since this is so, the semantic procedure is to move forward tentatively, and co-operatively, in so far as that is possible. We have learned that it is necessary to listen to the opinions of others. And we have learned that it is necessary to defer to that opinion which rests upon the most reliable evidence.11
Hitler was a man (a male human being) is a statement of fact. This statement can be verified by impersonal means. This statement may be correctly called a true reference.
Hitler was a monster is a statement of opinion because it cannot be verified by impersonal means. We judgewe appraiseHitler as a "monster." But the maid in the Charlie MacArthur household, on visiting her family in Germany, sent the MacArthurs a post card that read: "Hitler is a good boss."
An opinion may be said to be better or worse, depending on the evidence that supports it. You and I would consider the concentration camps better evidence than the post card of MacArthur's maid. But, even though everyone in the world would agree that Hitler was a monster, consensus does not establish fact. Consensus establishes fact only when a statement can be verified by impersonal means.
In so far as the mind leaps beyond available evidence,
11 This will be explicated more fully in Part Five below in connection with the means-end hypothesis.