Monday, April 27, 2009


Last time, I wrote about the apparent limitations of logical systems arising purely from a formal axiomatization of the Tarski hierarchy. I said:

So, if this gets us a lot of math, what is missing?

The obvious answer is "a truth predicate for that system". This doesn't lend much insight, though.

I should have thought before I spoke. A more powerful language cannot be constructed by adding a truth predicate. The semantics of the language is that it should be referring to the Tarski hierarchy! A truth predicate over such a language would need to be a truth predicate over the entire Tarski hierarchy. Such a truth predicate would apparently correspond to an ordinal above all ordinals. Not good!

As a side note: I've been looking at Quine's "New Foundations", and in that system, it is possible to talk about the ordering of all ordinals. Surprisingly, this ordinal does not cause problems. So, maybe in New Foundations the above move would be OK. With a naive view of the ordinals, though, it is not.

Keeping the naive view, it seems like I should deny the possibility of enriching the language by adding a truth predicate. Does that mean that I should say that the language is maximally rich? I don't think so. I suspect the situation is more like what happens with Kripke's language that contains it's own truth predicate: the language can be expanded in other, new directions.

[edit- some of the text was garbled as posted. I may have lost a paragraph or so.]

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