truth conditions

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The truth condition of a statement is the condition the world must meet if the statement is to be true. To know this condition is equivalent to knowing the meaning of the statement. Although this sounds as if it gives a solid anchorage for meaning, some of the security disappears when it turns out that the truth condition can only be defined by repeating the very same statement: the truth condition of ‘snow is white’ is that snow is white; the truth condition of ‘Britain would have capitulated had Hitler invaded’ is that Britain would have capitulated had Hitler invaded. It is disputed whether this element of running-on-the-spot disqualifies truth conditions from playing the central role in a substantive theory of meaning. Truth-conditional theories of meaning are sometimes opposed by the view that to know the meaning of a statement is to be able to use it in a network of inferences. See inferential semantics.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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