Semantic Information and the Correctness Theory of Truth
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- Floridi, L. Erkenn (2011) 74: 147. doi:10.1007/s10670-010-9249-8
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Semantic information is usually supposed to satisfy the veridicality thesis: p qualifies as semantic information only if p is true. However, what it means for semantic information to be true is often left implicit, with correspondentist interpretations representing the most popular, default option. The article develops an alternative approach, namely a correctness theory of truth (CTT) for semantic information. This is meant as a contribution not only to the philosophy of information but also to the philosophical debate on the nature of truth. After the introduction, in Sect. 2, semantic information is shown to be translatable into propositional semantic information (i). In Sect. 3, i is polarised into a query (Q) and a result (R), qualified by a specific context, a level of abstraction and a purpose. This polarization is normalised in Sect. 4, where [Q + R] is transformed into a Boolean question and its relative yes/no answer [Q + A]. This completes the reduction of the truth of i to the correctness of A. In Sects. 5 and 6, it is argued that (1) A is the correct answer to Q if and only if (2) A correctly saturates Q by verifying and validating it (in the computer science’s sense of “verification” and “validation”); that (2) is the case if and only if (3) [Q + A] generates an adequate model (m) of the relevant system (s) identified by Q; that (3) is the case if and only if (4) m is a proxy of s (in the computer science’s sense of “proxy”) and (5) proximal access to m commutes with the distal access to s (in the category theory’s sense of “commutation”); and that (5) is the case if and only if (6) reading/writing (accessing, in the computer science’s technical sense of the term) m enables one to read/write (access) s. Sect. 7 provides some further clarifications about CTT, in the light of semantic paradoxes. Section 8 draws a general conclusion about the nature of CTT as a theory for systems designers not just systems users. In the course of the article all technical expressions from computer science are explained.