Friday, October 9, 2009

Non-semantic definitions of truth

Here is a good reason to think that Tarski-style attempts at a definition of truth that do not make use of semantic concepts are going to fail. Such attempts are likely to make use of concepts like predicate and name. But these concepts are semantic concepts. A predicate is something can be applied to a name, and a name is something to which a predicate can be applied, and application is a semantic concept. Moreover, the definition of truth is going to have to presuppose an identification of the application function for the language (which takes a predicate and one or more names or free variables, and generates well formed formula, say by taking the predicate, appending a parenthesis, then appending a comma-delimited list of the names/variables, and then a parenthesis). But there is a multitude of functions from linguistic entities to linguistic entities, and to say which of them is application will be to make a semantic statement about the language.

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