Was Tarski's Theory of Truth Motivated by Physicalism?

History and Philosophy of Logic 25 (4):265-280 (2004)

Authors
Greg Frost-Arnold
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Abstract
Many commentators on Alfred Tarski have, following Hartry Field, claimed that Tarski's truth-definition was motivated by physicalism—the doctrine that all facts, including semantic facts, must be reducible to physical facts. I claim, instead, that Tarski did not aim to reduce semantic facts to physical ones. Thus, Field's criticism that Tarski's truth-definition fails to fulfill physicalist ambitions does not reveal Tarski to be inconsistent, since Tarski's goal is not to vindicate physicalism. I argue that Tarski's only published remarks that speak approvingly of physicalism were written in unusual circumstances: Tarski was likely attempting to appease an audience of physicalists that he viewed as hostile to his ideas. In later sections I develop positive accounts of: (1) Tarski's reduction of semantic concepts; (2) Tarski's motivation to develop formal semantics in the particular way he does; and (3) the role physicalism plays in Tarski's thought.
Keywords Tarski  physicalism  truth
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DOI 10.1080/0144534042000220982
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References found in this work BETA

Tarski's Theory of Truth.Hartry Field - 1972 - Journal of Philosophy 69 (13):347.
The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics.Alfred Tarski - 1943 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (3):341-376.
Tarski on Truth and Logical Consequence.John Etchemendy - 1988 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 53 (1):51-79.
What is a Theory of Truth?Scott Soames - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (8):411-429.
Foundations of Logic and Mathematics.Rudolf Carnap - 1939 - Journal of Philosophy 36 (23):636-637.

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Citations of this work BETA

Truth, Meaning, and Translation.Panu Raatikainen - 2008 - In Douglas Patterson (ed.), New essays on Tarski and philosophy. O.University Press. pp. 247.
Carnap's Contribution to Tarski's Truth.Monika Gruber - 2015 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 3 (10).
Two Unpublished Contributions by Alfred Tarski.Francisco Rodriguez-Consuegra - 2007 - History and Philosophy of Logic 28 (3):257-264.

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