Arithmetic potentialism and the universal algorithm, CUNY Logic Workshop, September 2017

This will be a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop at the CUNY Graduate Center, September 8, 2017, 2-3:30, room GC 6417.

Empire_State_Building_New_York_March_2015

Abstract. Consider the collection of all the models of arithmetic under the end-extension relation, which forms a potentialist system for arithmetic, a collection of possible arithmetic worlds or universe fragments, with a corresponding potentialist modal semantics. What are the modal validities? I shall prove that every model of arithmetic validates exactly S4 with respect to assertions in the language of arithmetic allowing parameters, but if one considers sentences only (no parameters), then some models can validate up to S5, thereby fulfilling the arithmetic maximality principle, which asserts for a model $M$ that whenever an arithmetic sentence is true in some end-extension of $M$ and all subsequent end-extensions, then it is already true in $M$. (We also consider other accessibility relations, such as arbitrary extensions or $\Sigma_n$-elementary extensions or end-extensions.)

The proof makes fundamental use of what I call the universal algorithm, a fascinating result due to W. Hugh Woodin, asserting that there is a computable algorithm that can in principle enumerate any desired finite sequence, if only it is undertaken in the right universe, and furthermore any given model of arithmetic can be end-extended so as to realize any desired additional behavior for that universal program. I shall give a simple proof of the universal algorithm theorem and explain how it can be used to determine the potentialist validities of a model of arithmetic. This is current joint work in progress with Victoria Gitman and Roman Kossak, and should be seen as an arithmetic analogue of my recent work on set-theoretic potentialism with Øystein Linnebo. The mathematical program is strongly motivated by philosophical ideas arising in the distinction between actual and potential infinity.

 

The modal principles of potentialism in mathematics, Logic and Metaphysics Workshop, CUNY, November 2017

This will be a talk on November 6, 2017 for the Logic and Metaphysics workshop at the CUNY Graduate Center, run by Graham Priest.

Morning_Fog_at_GGB

The modal principles of potentialism in mathematics

Abstract. Potentialism is the view in the philosophy of mathematics that one’s mathematical universe, whether in arithmetic or set theory, is never fully completed, but rather unfolds gradually as new parts of it increasingly come into existence or become accessible or known to us. As in the classical dispute between actual versus potential infinity, the potentialist holds that objects in the upper or outer reaches have potential as opposed to actual existence, in the sense that one can imagine forming or discovering always more objects from that realm, as many as desired, but the task is never completed.  In this talk, I shall describe a general model-theoretic account of the modal logic of potentialism, identifying specific modal principles that hold or fail depending on features of the potentialist system under consideration. This work makes use of modal control statements, such as buttons, switches, dials and ratchets and the connection of these kinds of statements with the modal theories S4.2, S4.3 and S5. I shall take the various natural kinds of set-theoretic potentialism as illustrative cases.

This is joint work with Øystein Linnebo, University of Oslo. Our paper is available: The modal logic of set-theoretic potentialism and the potentialist maximality principles.

  • J. D. Hamkins and Ø. Linnebo, “The modal logic of set-theoretic potentialism and the potentialist maximality principles.” (manuscript under review)  
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The modal logic of set-theoretic potentialism and the potentialist maximality principles

Joint work with Øystein Linnebo, University of Oslo.

  • J. D. Hamkins and Ø. Linnebo, “The modal logic of set-theoretic potentialism and the potentialist maximality principles.” (manuscript under review)  
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Abstract. We analyze the precise modal commitments of several natural varieties of set-theoretic potentialism, using tools we develop for a general model-theoretic account of potentialism, building on those of Hamkins, Leibman and Löwe (Structural connections between a forcing class and its modal logic), including the use of buttons, switches, dials and ratchets. Among the potentialist conceptions we consider are: rank potentialism (true in all larger $V_\beta$); Grothendieck-Zermelo potentialism (true in all larger $V_\kappa$ for inaccessible cardinals $\kappa$); transitive-set potentialism (true in all larger transitive sets); forcing potentialism (true in all forcing extensions); countable-transitive-model potentialism (true in all larger countable transitive models of ZFC); countable-model potentialism (true in all larger countable models of ZFC); and others. In each case, we identify lower bounds for the modal validities, which are generally either S4.2 or S4.3, and an upper bound of S5, proving in each case that these bounds are optimal. The validity of S5 in a world is a potentialist maximality principle, an interesting set-theoretic principle of its own. The results can be viewed as providing an analysis of the modal commitments of the various set-theoretic multiverse conceptions corresponding to each potentialist account.

Set-theoretic potentialism is the view in the philosophy of mathematics that the universe of set theory is never fully completed, but rather unfolds gradually as parts of it increasingly come into existence or become accessible to us. On this view, the outer reaches of the set-theoretic universe have merely potential rather than actual existence, in the sense that one can imagine “forming” or discovering always more sets from that realm, as many as desired, but the task is never completed. For example, height potentialism is the view that the universe is never fully completed with respect to height: new ordinals come into existence as the known part of the universe grows ever taller. Width potentialism holds that the universe may grow outwards, as with forcing, so that already existing sets can potentially gain new subsets in a larger universe. One commonly held view amongst set theorists is height potentialism combined with width actualism, whereby the universe grows only upward rather than outward, and so at any moment the part of the universe currently known to us is a rank initial segment $V_\alpha$ of the potential yet-to-be-revealed higher parts of the universe. Such a perspective might even be attractive to a Platonistically inclined large-cardinal set theorist, who wants to hold that there are many large cardinals, but who also is willing at any moment to upgrade to a taller universe with even larger large cardinals than had previously been mentioned. Meanwhile, the width-potentialist height-actualist view may be attractive for those who wish to hold a potentialist account of forcing over the set-theoretic universe $V$. On the height-and-width-potentialist view, one views the universe as growing with respect to both height and width. A set-theoretic monist, in contrast, with an ontology having only a single fully existing universe, will be an actualist with respect to both width and height. The second author has described various potentialist views in previous work.

Although we are motivated by the case of set-theoretic potentialism, the potentialist idea itself is far more general, and can be carried out in a general model-theoretic context. For example, the potentialist account of arithmetic is deeply connected with the classical debates surrounding potential as opposed to actual infinity, and indeed, perhaps it is in those classical debates where one finds the origin of potentialism. More generally, one can provide a potentialist account of truth in the context of essentially any kind of structure in any language or theory.

Our project here is to analyze and understand more precisely the modal commitments of various set-theoretic potentialist views.  After developing a general model-theoretic account of the semantics of potentialism and providing tools for establishing both lower and upper bounds on the modal validities for various kinds of potentialist contexts, we shall use those tools to settle exactly the propositional modal validities for several natural kinds of set-theoretic height and width potentialism.

Here is a summary account of the modal logics for various flavors of set-theoretic potentialism.

Flavours of potentialism

In each case, the indicated lower and upper bounds are realized in particular worlds, usually in the strongest possible way that is consistent with the stated inclusions, although in some cases, this is proved only under additional mild technical hypotheses. Indeed, some of the potentialist accounts are only undertaken with additional set-theoretic assumptions going beyond ZFC. For example, the Grothendieck-Zermelo account of potentialism is interesting mainly only under the assumption that there are a proper class of inaccessible cardinals, and countable-transitive-model potentialism is more robust under the assumption that every real is an element of a countable transitive model of set theory, which can be thought of as a mild large-cardinal assumption.

The upper bound of S5, when it is realized, constitutes a potentialist maximality principle, for in such a case, any statement that could possibly become actually true in such a way that it remains actually true as the universe unfolds, is already actually true. We identify necessary and sufficient conditions for each of the concepts of potentialism for a world to fulfill this potentialist maximality principle. For example, in rank-potentialism, a world $V_\kappa$ satisfies S5 with respect to the language of set theory with arbitrary parameters if and only if $\kappa$ is $\Sigma_3$-correct. And it satisfies S5 with respect to the potentialist language of set theory with parameters if and only if it is $\Sigma_n$-correct for every $n$.  Similar results hold for each of the potentialist concepts.

Finally, let me mention the strong affinities between set-theoretic potentialism and set-theoretic pluralism, particularly with the various set-theoretic multiverse conceptions currently in the literature. Potentialists may regard themselves mainly as providing an account of truth ultimately for a single universe, gradually revealed, the limit of their potentialist system. Nevertheless, the universe fragments of their potentialist account can often naturally be taken as universes in their own right, connected by the potentialist modalities, and in this way, every potentialist system can be viewed as a multiverse. Indeed, the potentialist systems we analyze in this article—including rank potentialism, forcing potentialism, generic-multiverse potentialism, countable-transitive-model potentialism, countable-model potentialism—each align with corresponding natural multiverse conceptions. Because of this, we take the results of this article as providing not only an analysis of the modal commitments of set-theoretic potentialism, but also an analysis of the modal commitments of various particular set-theoretic multiverse conceptions. Indeed, one might say that it is possible (ahem), in another world, for this article to have been entitled, “The modal logic of various set-theoretic multiverse conceptions.”

For more, please follow the link to the arxiv where you can find the full article.

  • J. D. Hamkins and Ø. Linnebo, “The modal logic of set-theoretic potentialism and the potentialist maximality principles.” (manuscript under review)  
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Structural connections between a forcing class and its modal logic

  • J. D. Hamkins, G. Leibman, and B. Löwe, “Structural connections between a forcing class and its modal logic,” Israel J. Math., vol. 207, iss. 2, pp. 617-651, 2015.  
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The modal logic of forcing arises when one considers a model of set theory in the context of all its forcing extensions, interpreting $\square$ as “in all forcing extensions” and $\Diamond$ as “in some forcing extension”. In this modal language one may easily express sweeping general forcing principles, such as $\Diamond\square\varphi\to\square\Diamond\varphi$, the assertion that every possibly necessary statement is necessarily possible, which is valid for forcing, or $\Diamond\square\varphi\to\varphi$, the assertion that every possibly necessary statement is true, which is the maximality principle, a forcing axiom independent of but equiconsistent with ZFC (see A simple maximality principle).

Every definable forcing class similarly gives rise to the corresponding forcing modalities, for which one considers extensions only by forcing notions in that class. In previous work, we proved that if ZFC is consistent, then the ZFC-provably valid principles of the class of all forcing are precisely the assertions of the modal theory S4.2 (see The modal logic of forcing). In this article, we prove that the provably valid principles of collapse forcing, Cohen forcing and other classes are in each case exactly S4.3; the provably valid principles of c.c.c. forcing, proper forcing, and others are each contained within S4.3 and do not contain S4.2; the provably valid principles of countably closed forcing, CH-preserving forcing and others are each exactly S4.2; and the provably valid principles of $\omega_1$-preserving forcing are contained within S4.tBA. All these results arise from general structural connections we have identified between a forcing class and the modal logic of forcing to which it gives rise, including the connection between various control statements, such as buttons, switches and ratchets, and their corresponding forcing validities. These structural connections therefore support a forcing-only analysis of other diverse forcing classes.

Preprints available at:  ar$\chi$iv | NI12055-SAS | UvA ILLC PP-2012-19 | HBM 446

The modal logic of forcing

  • J. D. Hamkins and B. Löwe, “The modal logic of forcing,” Trans.~Amer.~Math.~Soc., vol. 360, iss. 4, pp. 1793-1817, 2008.  
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What are the most general principles in set theory relating forceability and truth? As with Solovay’s celebrated analysis of provability, both this question and its answer are naturally formulated with modal logic. We aim to do for forceability what Solovay did for provability. A set theoretical assertion $\psi$ is forceable or possible, if $\psi$ holds in some forcing extension, and necessary, if $\psi$ holds in all forcing extensions. In this forcing interpretation of modal logic, we establish that if ZFC is consistent, then the ZFC-provable principles of forcing are exactly those in the modal theory known as S4.2.

Follow-up article:  Structural connections between a forcing class and its modal logic