, Volume 194, Issue 1, pp 97–119

Carnapian and Tarskian semantics

S.I.: Carnap on Logic


Many papers have been devoted to the semantic turn Carnap took in the late 1930s after Tarski had explained to him his method for defining truth and his work on the establishment of scientific semantics. Commentators have often argued that the major turn in Carnap’s approach to languages had already been taken in the Logical Syntax of Language, but they have usually assumed that Carnap was happy to subsequently follow Tarski and adopt Tarskian semantics. In this paper, it is argued that this assumption needs to be qualified and that Carnap was actually far from following Tarski when he decided to complement his syntactic method with a semantic one. Carnap and Tarski had different goals, divergent programs, and dissenting views on truth and semantics. After exploring several possible methods for the explication of logical concepts such as L-truth and L-implication, Carnap opted for definitions based on concepts he had found in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Waismann’s work on a logical interpretation of probability. Carnap’s reasons for taking a semantic turn are to be understood in the context of his principle of tolerance. He first hoped he could use Tarski’s technique to recover in the semantic setting the completeness result he had tried to establish in the Logical Syntax. His eventual adoption of non-Tarskian semantics can be accounted for by his program of a logical analysis of science—including empirical science—and his ambition to elaborate a unified logical framework for deductive, inductive, and modal logic, and for explicating analyticity.


Carnap Tarski Truth Logical truth Semantics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.F.R. de philosophie, IHPST (Paris 1, ENS, CNRS)Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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