Proposition

Bearer of truth or falsity / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A proposition is a central concept in the philosophy of language, semantics, logic, and related fields, often characterized as the primary bearer of truth or falsity. Propositions are also often characterized as being the kind of thing that declarative sentences denote. For instance the sentence "The sky is blue" denotes the proposition that the sky is blue. However, crucially, propositions are not themselves linguistic expressions. For instance, the English sentence "Snow is white" denotes the same proposition as the German sentence "Schnee ist weiß" even though the two sentences are not the same. Similarly, propositions can also be characterized as the objects of belief and other propositional attitudes. For instance if one believes that the sky is blue, what one believes is the proposition that the sky is blue. A proposition can also be thought of as a kind of idea: Collins Dictionary has a definition for proposition as "a statement or an idea that people can consider or discuss whether it is true."[1]

Formally, propositions are often modeled as functions which map a possible world to a truth value. For instance, the proposition that the sky is blue can be modeled as a function which would return the truth value if given the actual world as input, but would return if given some alternate world where the sky is green. However, a number of alternative formalizations have been proposed, notably the structured propositions view.

Propositions have played a large role throughout the history of logic, linguistics, philosophy of language, and related disciplines. Some researchers have doubted whether a consistent definition of propositionhood is possible, David Lewis even remarking that "the conception we associate with the word ‘proposition’ may be something of a jumble of conflicting desiderata". The term is often used broadly and has been used to refer to various related concepts.

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