A history of truth-values

Por • 13 ene, 2021 • Sección: Leyes

Jean-Yves Beziau

The whole story The compound word “truth-value”, sometimes written “truth value”, is a bit monstrous and ambiguous. It is the name of a central concept of modern logic, but has not yet invaded everyday language. An ordinary man will say: it is true that Paris is the capital of France, rather than: the truth-value of “Paris is the capital of France” is true. And a mathematician also will say: it is true that 2+3=5, rather than the truth-value of “2+3=5” is true. We don’t even find “truth-values” in postmodern or new age discussions side by side with “quantum leap”, “imaginary number”, “betacognition”. It seems that “truth-value” is exclusively used by logicians, philosophers of logic and analytic philosophers. In this paper we will examine the origin of this strange way of speaking and the concept related to it. Logical philosophers generally don’t define the expression “truth-value”, they take its definition for granted, known to everybody who has attended a first course on propositional logic. However if we have a close look at a textbook of logic, it is difficult to find a precise definition of such a notion. Truth-values will appear in the so-called truth tables, as T and F, or 1 and 0. The expression “truth tables” also is generally not explained, but this makes sense as a picture and to put truth in a table may look amusing.


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