Do the terms "proposition" and "meaning of the proposition" mean the same thing?

Put differently: let P denote a proposition. Do the terms P and "the meaning of P" mean the same thing? Do they denote the same thing?

  • 1
    Sorry, if this sounds utterly sophistic: By 'meaning' do you mean something like 'relevance, importance', or do you mean something like 'content, intension'?
    – Einer
    Oct 4, 2014 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


In general, you can understand the term proposition as:

1. The string of symbols that forms a truth-bearer sentence, a declarative sentence.

2. The "meaning" (or the content) of a declarative sentence.

Different authors used the same term in different sense of words, so it can be confusing.

To avoid confusion, we can use the term statement (or just sentence) to refer (1), as it is done in mathematical logic, and the term proposition to refer (2).

See Strawson's article: On referring (1950, this is a critique of Russell's Theory of descriptions)


That's a good question, but I think might depend on the author. Following Russell's way, propositions are just values for propositional functions, so you need to understand this also. I.e, a proposition is the same as the fact which the statement represents; for example, "Socrates is a man" is the same proposition as "Socrates é um homem", although they are different statements, i.e, different chains of signs in different languages with different syntaxes and grammars. All propositions are true or false. A propositional functions would be a incomplete pseudo-statement that it's not true or false in virtue of some missing semantic aspect. For example, "x is a man" is a propositional function (I said "pseudo-statement" because "x is a man" is the same as "x é um homem", although they are not propositions) represents a function whose values are propositions, and the domain is the class of all man. So the "x" is some kind of "hole" inside that statement, which, when fulfilled, assumes a proposition false or true.

If you want a very better explanation, see what Russell wrote about it in http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/br-on-propositions.pdf

and the chapter about propositional functions in


A more simple and less philosophical explanation can be found in the beginning of https://archive.org/details/PrincipiaMathematicaVolumeI

I would also recommend everything you could find on Frege about the subject, especially http://fitelson.org/proseminar/frege_fac.pdf

I hope it helps, have a nice day.


When considering questions such as this, it is useful to keep in mind Frege's ontology { concept, object, name }. Everything is considered as being in these three categories.

We give an object a name (denotation), here P. In turn, the object has a concept (or sense).

If you are familiar with modern computer languages (object-oriented programming), then this should be natural to you as the ontology { class, object, name }, where the object is a named instance of the class.

On the other hand, in a different context both object and name are concepts which can be instantiated as an object with a name. So it is important to keep context in mind.

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