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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 15, Issue 2, Mayo 2000

Josep Macià
Pages 235-258

On the Interpretation of Formal Languages and the Analysis of Logical Properties

We can distinguish different senses in which a formal language can be said to have been provided with an interpretation. We focus on two: (i) We provide a model (or structure) and a definition of satisfaction and truth in the standard way (ii) We provide a translation into a natural language. We argue that the sentences of a formal language interpreted as in (i) do not have meaning. A formal language interpreted as in (i) models the way the truth of a sentence would be affected by two factors: the interpretation as in (ii) of the language, and a way the world might be. Viewing in this way the relation between interpreting a formal language as in (i) and as in (ii) allows us to justify the conceptual adequacy of the standard model-theoretic definitions of the properties of logical truth and logical consequence.

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