Alfred Tarski  

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Alfred Tarski (January 14, 1901 – October 26, 1983) was a Polish logician, mathematician and philosopher. Educated at the University of Warsaw and a member of the Lwów–Warsaw school of logic and the Warsaw school of mathematics and philosophy, he emigrated to the USA in 1939, and taught and carried out research in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1942 until his death.

Truth in formalized languages

In 1933, Tarski published a very long paper in Polish, titled "Pojęcie prawdy w językach nauk dedukcyjnych", setting out a mathematical definition of truth for formal languages. The 1935 German translation was titled "Der Wahrheitsbegriff in den formalisierten Sprachen", "The concept of truth in formalized languages", sometimes shortened to "Wahrheitsbegriff". An English translation appeared in the 1956 first edition of the volume Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics. This collection of papers from 1923 to 1938 is an event in 20th-century analytic philosophy, a contribution to symbolic logic, semantics, and the philosophy of language. For a brief discussion of its content, see Convention T (and also T-schema).

Some recent philosophical debate examines the extent to which Tarski's theory of truth for formalized languages can be seen as a correspondence theory of truth. The debate centers on how to read Tarski's condition of material adequacy for a truth definition. That condition requires that the truth theory have the following as theorems for all sentences p of the language for which truth is being defined:

"p" is true if and only if p.

(where p is the proposition expressed by "p")

The debate amounts to whether to read sentences of this form, such as

"Snow is white" is true if and only if snow is white

as expressing merely a deflationary theory of truth or as embodying truth as a more substantial property (see Kirkham 1992). It is important to realize that Tarski's theory of truth is for formalized languages, so examples in natural language are not illustrations of the use of Tarski's theory of truth.

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