29 Dec 2014

Tarski (§2) of “The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics”, entitled ‘2. The Extension of the Term “True”’

by Corry Shores

Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Logic & Semantics, Entry Directory]
[Alfred Tarski, Entry Directory]
[Tarski’s “Semantic Conception of Truth”, Entry Directory]


[The following is summary. All boldface, underlying and bracketed commentary are my own.]

Alfred Tarski

The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics

Part I. Exposition

2. The Extension of the Term “True”


Brief Summary:
We will apply the term ‘truth’ only to declarative sentences articulated in some language.


The concept of truth would have an extension [the set of things to which it refers.] Tarski begins with some remarks about truth’s extension.

The predicate “true” is often applied to many things, including

psychological phenomena such as judgments or beliefs, sometimes to certain physical objects, namely, linguistic expressions and specifically sentences, and sometimes to certain ideal entities called “propositions.” (332)

“Sentence” will mean what in grammar we call a declarative sentence. “Proposition” is notoriously difficult to define, so Tarski will stick with applying the term ‘true’ only to sentences. (332-333)

[Since we are dealing with real grammatically formed sentences, we are dealing with real natural language.] Thus we always related the notion of truth to a specific language, “for it is obvious that the same expression which is a true sentence in one language can be false or meaningless in another.” (333)

However, the notion of truth could also be extended to apply to things other than sentences. (333)


Tarski, Alfred. The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics”. In The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives. Michael P. Lynch, ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts / London: MIT, 2001, pp.331-363.

A hyperlinked online version can be found here:


The Lynch edited book writes this in the acknowledgments:

Alfred Tarski. “The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (1944). Copyright 1992 by the Estate of Alfred Tarski. Reprinted by permission of Jan Tarski.

Further bibliographical information from

Alfred Tarski (1944) The semantic conception of truth and the foundations of semantics (Reprinted as Chapter 4 of Martinich’s anthology). This is an abridged and updated version of his 1935 long paper Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprache (The concept of truth in formalized languages), itself a translation from his book in Polish of 1933.

And yet further bibliographical information from the German wiki page for Tarski


Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprachen. In: Studia Philosophica. [Lemberg] 1 (1936), S. 261–405 (Vorabdruck datiert 1935).[4] Der Artikel ist eine deutsche Übersetzung der erstmals 1933 gedruckten polnischen Arbeit, die aber schon 1931 der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert wurde. Nachdruck in Karel Berka, Lothar Kreiser (Hrsg.): Logik-Texte. Kommentierte Auswahl zur Geschichte der modernen Logik. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1983, S. 445–546, in englischer Sprache in Tarski: Logic, Semantics and Metamathematics - papers from 1923 to 1938 by Alfred Tarski. Oxford 1956, 1983.

The German text can be found here:



No comments:

Post a Comment