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Pragmatic truth and approximation to truth1

  • Irene Mikenberg (a1), Newton C. A. da Costa (a1) and Rolando Chuaqui (a1)


There are several conceptions of truth, such as the classical correspondence conception, the coherence conception and the pragmatic conception. The classical correspondence conception, or Aristotelian conception, received a mathematical treatment in the hands of Tarski (cf. Tarski [1935] and [1944]), which was the starting point of a great progress in logic and in mathematics. In effect, Tarski's semantic ideas, especially his semantic characterization of truth, have exerted a major influence on various disciplines, besides logic and mathematics; for instance, linguistics, the philosophy of science, and the theory of knowledge.

The importance of the Tarskian investigations derives, among other things, from the fact that they constitute a mathematical, formal mark to serve as a reference for the philosophical (informal) conceptions of truth. Today the philosopher knows that the classical conception can be developed and that it is free from paradoxes and other difficulties, if certain precautions are taken.

We believe that is not an exaggeration if we assert that Tarski's theory should be considered as one of the greatest accomplishments of logic and mathematics of our time, an accomplishment which is also of extraordinary relevance to philosophy, as we have already remarked.

In this paper we show that the pragmatic conception of truth, at least in one of its possible interpretations, has also a mathematical formulation, similar in spirit to that given by Tarski to the classical correspondence conception.



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Research for this paper was partially supported by the Regional Scientific Development Program of the Organization of American States and the Directión de Investigatión of the Catholic University of Chile. The paper was partially written while the second author was at the University of California, making use of a CAPES–Fulbright fellowship, and the third author was at Stanford University, making use of a Guggenheim fellowship.



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