1

What is the definition of a statement, formally? We talk a lot about statements in math and philosophy, but I have never heard a precise definition of what a statement is. I would like some clarification of this topic.

2
  • Odd, considering that it is defined in the opening pages of most logic or proofs textbooks, and in Wikipedia:"the assertion that is made by a true or false declarative sentence". There are multiple variations on this theme but with little difference in practice. – Conifold May 23 at 9:25
  • The definition of STATEMENT is clearly dependent on which academic field you learn the definition from. In math & English you may get what Conifold said. In Philosophy you will get different definitions. A statement doesn't have to be a SENTENCE first of all. Secondly, A STATEMENT doesn't have to be TRUE OR FALSE. A STATEMENT can be meaningless! A STATEMENT as I was taught is defined as a sign, symbol, a word, ect that communicates an idea whether it is literally meaningful or not. So me placing a loaded gun to your temple is expressing a STATEMENT. You would ask is this true or false? No. – Logikal May 23 at 21:19
2

There is no single agreed use of the terms 'statement' and 'proposition'. Some ways in which philosophers use the word 'statement' include:

  • A synonym or alternative for 'proposition'.
  • A meaningful declarative sentence in a particular language.
  • The assertion made by (the utterance of) a meaningful declarative sentence.
  • Something that conveys a meaning, but which might be more broader than a sentence, e.g. a sign or gesture.

Likewise with 'proposition', it is sometimes:

  • The primary bearer of truth, i.e. those kinds of things that are fundamentally true or false.
  • A meaningful declarative or descriptive sentence.
  • The semantic content of a meaningful declarative or descriptive sentence.
  • The language-independent meaning of a declarative or descriptive sentence.
  • The meaning of a declarative or descriptive sentence with the indexicals and references resolved.
  • The object of propositional attitudes, i.e. the things that stand in place of p in expressions like "believes that p", "hopes that p", "fears that p", etc.
  • The object of that-clauses, i.e. the things that stand in place of p in expressions like "the fact that p", "the possibility that p", etc.

David Lewis expressed the view that 'proposition' is such a jumble of conflicting desiderata that it is impossible to give it a clear definition.

1
  • In mathematics and other fields outside of Philosophy perhaps the word PROPOSITION can mean some of those things in your answer. In epistemology the answer is not subjective or always changing. A STATEMENT is a distinct thing from a PROPOSITION. A PROPOSITION is also NOT A SENTENCE. Perhaps in MATH it is but you should state that out loud to not confuse people as if the math definition overrides all others. If a philosopher is saying a proposition is a sentence it is because he is trying to make the concept relatable to average folk as they would not understand or grasp the correct definition – Logikal May 23 at 21:31
0

According to reference here:

proposition is the non-linguistic bearer of truth or falsity which makes any sentence that expresses it either true or false... While the term "proposition" may sometimes be used in everyday language to refer to a linguistic statement which can be either true or false, the technical philosophical term, which differs from the mathematical usage, refers exclusively to the non-linguistic meaning behind the statement.

Statement is a general linguistic concept which may or may not have truth value, such as an imperative statement. While in logic statements are usually meant to be declarative sentences that is true or false according to here which may be expressed in different languages such as English and French sentences for a same proposition corresponding to the same truth snow is white.

1
  • In Mathematical logic you may say the STATEMENTS there are SENTENCES but you are projecting all propositions are sentences which is not true. Propositions are not literal. You can't see them or touch them. Why did you not make this distinction? A proposition is an idea that can be expressed in different languages in different sentences in that language. But only one proposition is expressed if we translate all of the same sentences in English. Propositions are neither SENTENCES nor STATEMENTS. These are three distinct things. – Logikal May 23 at 21:26
0

See John Corcoran, Sentence, Proposition, Judgment, Statement, and Fact.

The words sentence, proposition, judgment, statement, and fact are ambiguous in that logicians [and philosophers] use each of them with multiple normal meanings.

A judgment is a private epistemic event that results in a new belief and a statement is a public pragmatic event, an act of writing or speaking. Both are made by a unique person at a unique time and place.

In contrast, propositions and sentences are timeless and placeless abstractions. A proposition is an intensional entity; in some cases it is a meaning of a sentence: it is a meaning composed of concepts, a complex sense composed of simpler senses. A [declarative] sentence is a linguistic entity.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.