, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 147–175 | Cite as

Semantic Information and the Correctness Theory of Truth

  • Luciano Floridi
Original Article


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.


Semantic Information Reverse Engineering Epistemic Logic Declarative Sentence Normal Modal Logic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



A first version of the paper was presented at the I International Meeting of Experts in Information Theories (Leon, Spain, 6–7 November, 2008) and I am very grateful to Francisco Salto for his kind invitation, and to the audience for the lively and valuable discussion. Several revised versions were then presented at the following meetings: Formal Philosophy Seminar, University of Leuven, February 2009 (thanks to Sebastian Sequoiah-Grayson); Department of Philosophy, Bilkent University, March 2009 (thanks to Hilmi Demir); Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Padova, March 2009 (thanks to Massimiliano Carrara and Francesca Menegoni); North-American Computing And Philosophy (NACAP) Conference, Indiana University, June 2009 (thanks to Anthony Beavers); Akademie der Wissenschaften and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, July 2009 (thanks to Robert Schaback); Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Genova, October 2009 (thanks to Carlo Penco); The Moral Sciences Club, Cambridge University, October 2009 (thanks to Jane Heal and Steven Methven). I would also like to acknowledge the help, useful comments and criticisms by Patrick Allo, Mark Jago, Sebastian Sequoiah-Grayson, and Matteo Turilli. I remain deeply indebted to Michael Dummett and Susan Haack for their clarifications and feedback, which date to almost 20 years ago. I am afraid this paper has been a work in progress for quite some time. Joanna Gillies kindly copyedited the last version. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the feedback provided by the two anonymous referees, who offered many constructive suggestions on how to improve the paper and saved me from more than a couple of blunders. All the aforementioned people helped me to develop the paper substantially, but they are not responsible for any remaining mistakes.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HertfordshireHertfordshireUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Philosophy and IEGUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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