This paper aims to argue for two related statements: first, that formal semantics should not be conceived of as interpreting natural language expressions in a single model (a very large one representing the world as a whole, or something like that) but as interpreting them in many different models (formal counterparts, say, of little fragments of reality); second, that accepting such a conception of formal semantics yields a better comprehension of the relation between semantics and pragmatics and of the role (...) to be played by formal semantics in the general enterprise of understanding meaning. For this purpose, three kinds of arguments are given: firstly, empirical arguments showing that the many models approach is the most straightforward and natural way of giving a formal counterpart to natural language sentences. Secondly, logical arguments proving the logical impossibility of a single universal model. And thirdly, theoretical arguments to the effect that such a conception of formal semantics fits in a natural and fruitful way with pragmatic theories and facts. In passing, this conception will be shown to cast some new light on the old problems raised by liar and sorites paradoxes. (shrink)
§1. Introduction. The problem raised by the liar paradox has long been an intriguing challenge for all those interested in the concept of truth. Many “solutions” have been proposed to solve or avoid the paradox, either prescribing some linguistical restriction, or giving up the classical true-false bivalence or assuming some kind of contextual dependence of truth, among other possibilities. We shall not discuss these different approaches to the subject in this paper, but we shall concentrate on a kind of formal (...) construction which was originated by Kripke's paper “Outline of a theory of truth”  and which, in different forms, reappears in later papers by various authors.The main idea can be presented as follows: assume a first order language ℒ containing, among other unspecified symbols, a predicate symbolTintended to represent the truth predicate for ℒ. Assume, also, a fixed modelM= 〈D, I〉 whereDcontains all sentences of ℒ andIinterprets all non-logical symbols of ℒ exceptTin the usual way. In general,Dmight contain many objects other than sentences of ℒ but as that would raise the problem of the meaning of sentences in whichTis applied to one of these objects, we shall assume that this is not the case. (shrink)
This papers aims to analyse sentences of a self-referential language containing a truth-predicate by means of a Smullyan-style tableau system. Our analysis covers three variants of Kripke's partial-model semantics (strong and weak Kleene's and supervaluational) and three variants of the revision theory of truth (Belnap's, Gupta's and Herzberger's).