Tarski's truth definition

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Tarski's truth definition is a definition which formalizes the relation between a sentence and its truth value. The definition formalizes what Wittgenstein (1922) describes as:

to understand a proposition means to know what is the case if it is true. 

It has the following general form:

(i)  For any S in L and any v, S is true in v if and only if p.

S is a structural description of a sentence of a language L, v is a circumstance which has to be met, and p are the conditions that describe how this circumstance should be met.


The definition for sentence S in (i) has (partly) the form of (ii).

(ii) Snow is white is true iff Snow is white

Tarski's truth definition is crucial to a denotational meaning theory.



  • Gamut, L.T.F. 1991. Logic, language, and meaning, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Tarski, A. 1944. The Semantic Conception of Truth, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4, 341-375
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