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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Upward closure and amalgamation in the generic multiverse of a countable model of set theory

  • J. D. Hamkins, “Upward closure and amalgamation in the generic multiverse of a countable model of set theory,” RIMS Kyôkyûroku, pp. 17-31, 2016. (also available as Newton Institute preprint ni15066)  
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Abstract. I prove several theorems concerning upward closure and amalgamation in the generic multiverse of a countable transitive model of set theory. Every such model $W$ has forcing extensions $W[c]$ and $W[d]$ by adding a Cohen real, which cannot be amalgamated in any further extension, but some nontrivial forcing notions have all their extensions amalgamable. An increasing chain $W[G_0]\subseteq W[G_1]\subseteq\cdots$ has an upper bound $W[H]$ if and only if the forcing had uniformly bounded essential size in $W$. Every chain $W\subseteq W[c_0]\subseteq W[c_1]\subseteq \cdots$ of extensions adding Cohen reals is bounded above by $W[d]$ for some $W$-generic Cohen real $d$.

This article is based upon I talk I gave at the conference on Recent Developments in Axiomatic Set Theory at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences (RIMS) at Kyoto University, Japan in September, 2015, and I am extremely grateful to my Japanese hosts, especially Toshimichi Usuba, for supporting my research visit there and also at the CTFM conference at Tokyo Institute of Technology just preceding it. This article includes material adapted from section section 2 of Set-theoretic geology, joint with G. Fuchs, myself and J. Reitz, and also includes a theorem that was proved in a series of conversations I had with Giorgio Venturi at the Young Set Theory Workshop 2011 in Bonn and continuing at the London 2011 summer school on set theory at Birkbeck University London.

Being HOD-of-a-set is invariant throughout the generic multiverse

Iowa State Capitol - Law Library _ Flickr - Photo Sharing!$\newcommand\HOD{\text{HOD}}$The axiom $V=\HOD$, introduced by Gödel, asserts that every set is ordinal definable. This axiom has a subtler foundational aspect than might at first be expected. The reason is that the general concept of “object $x$ is definable using parameter $p$” is not in general first-order expressible in set theory; it is of course a second-order property, which makes sense only relative to a truth predicate, and by Tarski’s theorem, we can have no first-order definable truth predicate. Thus, the phrase “definable using ordinal parameters” is not directly meaningful in the first-order language of set theory without further qualification or explanation. Fortunately, however, it is a remarkable fact that when we allow definitions to use arbitrary ordinal parameters, as we do with $\HOD$, then we can in fact make such qualifications in such a way that the axiom becomes first-order expressible in set theory. Specifically, we say officially that $V=\HOD$ holds, if for every set $x$, there is an ordinal $\theta$ with $x\in V_\theta$, for which which $x$ is definable by some formula $\psi(x)$ in the structure $\langle V_\theta,{\in}\rangle$ using ordinal parameters. Since $V_\theta$ is a set, we may freely make reference to first-order truth in $V_\theta$ without requiring any truth predicate in $V$. Certainly any such $x$ as this is also ordinal-definable in $V$, since we may use $\theta$ and the Gödel-code of $\psi$ also as parameters, and note that $x$ is the unique object such that it is in $V_\theta$ and satisfies $\psi$ in $V_\theta$. (Note that inside an $\omega$-nonstandard model of set theory, we may really need to use $\psi$ as a parameter, since it may be nonstandard, and $x$ may not be definable in $V_\theta$ using a meta-theoretically standard natural number; but fortunately, the Gödel code of a formula is an integer, which is still an ordinal, and this issue is the key to the issue.) Conversely, if $x$ is definable in $V$ using formula $\varphi(x,\vec\alpha)$ with ordinal parameters $\vec\alpha$, then it follows by the reflection theorem that $x$ is defined by $\varphi(x,\vec\alpha)$ inside some $V_\theta$. So this formulation of $V=HOD$ is expressible and exactly captures the desired second-order property that every set is ordinal-definable.

Consider next the axiom $V=\HOD(b)$, asserting that every set is definable from ordinal parameters and parameter $b$. Officially, as before, $V=\HOD(b)$ asserts that for every $x$, there is an ordinal $\theta$, formula $\psi$ and ordinals $\vec \alpha<\theta$, such that $x$ is the unique object in $V_\theta$ for which $\langle V_\theta,{\in}\rangle\models\psi(x,\vec\alpha,b)$, and the reflection argument shows again that this way of defining the axiom exactly captures the intended idea.

The axiom I actually want to focus on is $\exists b\,\left( V=\HOD(b)\right)$, asserting that the universe is $\HOD$ of a set. (I assume ZFC in the background theory.) It turns out that this axiom is constant throughout the generic multiverse.

Theorem. The assertion $\exists b\, (V=\HOD(b))$ is forcing invariant.

  • If it holds in $V$, then it continues to hold in every set forcing extension of $V$.
  • If it holds in $V$, then it holds in every ground of $V$.

Thus, the truth of this axiom is invariant throughout the generic multiverse.

Proof. Suppose that $\text{ZFC}+V=\HOD(b)$, and $V[G]$ is a forcing extension of $V$ by generic filter $G\subset\mathbb{P}\in V$. By the ground-model definability theorem, it follows that $V$ is definable in $V[G]$ from parameter $P(\mathbb{P})^V$. Thus, using this parameter, as well as $b$ and additional ordinal parameters, we can define in $V[G]$ any particular object in $V$. Since this includes all the $\mathbb{P}$-names used to form $V[G]$, it follows that $V[G]=\HOD(b,P(\mathbb{P})^V,G)$, and so $V[G]$ is $\HOD$ of a set, as desired.

Conversely, suppose that $W$ is a ground of $V$, so that $V=W[G]$ for some $W$-generic filter $G\subset\mathbb{P}\in W$, and $V=\HOD(b)$ for some set $b$. Let $\dot b$ be a name for which $\dot b_G=b$. Every object $x\in W$ is definable in $W[G]$ from $b$ and ordinal parameters $\vec\alpha$, so there is some formula $\psi$ for which $x$ is unique such that $\psi(x,b,\vec\alpha)$. Thus, there is some condition $p\in\mathbb{P}$ such that $x$ is unique such that $p\Vdash\psi(\check x,\dot b,\check{\vec\alpha})$. If $\langle p_\beta\mid\beta<|\mathbb{P}|\rangle$ is a fixed enumeration of $\mathbb{P}$ in $W$, then $p=p_\beta$ for some ordinal $\beta$, and we may therefore define $x$ in $W$ using ordinal parameters, along with $\dot b$ and the fixed enumeration of $\mathbb{P}$. So $W$ thinks the universe is $\HOD$ of a set, as desired.

Since the generic multiverse is obtained by iteratively moving to forcing extensions to grounds, and each such movement preserves the axiom, it follows that $\exists b\, (V=\HOD(b))$ is constant throughout the generic multiverse. QED

Theorem. If $V=\HOD(b)$, then there is a forcing extension $V[G]$ in which $V=\HOD$ holds.

Proof. We are working in ZFC. Suppose that $V=\HOD(b)$. We may assume $b$ is a set of ordinals, since such sets can code any given set. Consider the following forcing iteration: first add a Cohen real $c$, and then perform forcing $G$ that codes $c$, $P(\omega)^V$ and $b$ into the GCH pattern at uncountable cardinals, and then perform self-encoding forcing $H$ above that coding, coding also $G$ (see my paper on Set-theoretic geology for further details on self-encoding forcing). In the final model $V[c][G][H]$, therefore, the objects $c$, $b$, $P(\omega)^V$, $G$ and $H$ are all definable without parameters. Since $V\subset V[c][G][H]$ has a closure point at $\omega$, it satisfies the $\omega_1$-approximation and cover properties, and therefore the class $V$ is definable in $V[c][G][H]$ using $P(\omega)^V$ as a parameter. Since this parameter is itself definable without parameters, it follows that $V$ is parameter-free definable in $V[c][G][H]$. Since $b$ is also definable there, it follows that every element of $\HOD(b)^V=V$ is ordinal-definable in $V[c][G][H]$. And since $c$, $G$ and $H$ are also definable without parameters, we have $V[c][G][H]\models V=\HOD$, as desired. QED

Corollary. The following are equivalent.

  1. The universe is $\HOD$ of a set: $\exists b\, (V=\HOD(b))$.
  2. Somewhere in the generic multiverse, the universe is $\HOD$ of a set.
  3. Somewhere in the generic multiverse, the axiom $V=\HOD$ holds.
  4. The axiom $V=\HOD$ is forceable.

Proof. This is an immediate consequence of the previous theorems. $1\to 4\to 3\to 2\to 1$. QED

Corollary. The axiom $V=\HOD$, if true, even if true anywhere in the generic multiverse, is a switch.

Proof. A switch is a statement such that both it and its negation are necessarily possible by forcing; that is, in every set forcing extension, one can force the statement to be true and also force it to be false. We can always force $V=\HOD$ to fail, simply by adding a Cohen real. If $V=\HOD$ is true, then by the first theorem, every forcing extension has $V=\HOD(b)$ for some $b$, in which case $V=\HOD$ remains forceable, by the second theorem. QED

Upward closure in the generic multiverse of a countable model of set theory, RIMS 2015, Kyoto, Japan

Philosophers Walk Kyoto Japan (summer)This will be a talk for the conference Recent Developments in Axiomatic Set Theory at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences (RIMS) in Kyoto, Japan, September 16-18, 2015.

Abstract. Consider a countable model of set theory amongst its forcing extensions, the ground models of those extensions, the extensions of those models and so on, closing under the operations of forcing extension and ground model.  This collection is known as the generic multiverse of the original model.  I shall present a number of upward-oriented closure results in this context. For example, for a long-known negative result, it is a fun exercise to construct forcing extensions $M[c]$ and $M[d]$ of a given countable model of set theory $M$, each by adding an $M$-generic Cohen real, which cannot be amalgamated, in the sense that there is no common extension model $N$ that contains both $M[c]$ and $M[d]$ and has the same ordinals as $M$. On the positive side, however, any increasing sequence of extensions $M[G_0]\subset M[G_1]\subset M[G_2]\subset\cdots$, by forcing of uniformly bounded size in $M$, has an upper bound in a single forcing extension $M[G]$. (Note that one cannot generally have the sequence $\langle G_n\mid n<\omega\rangle$ in $M[G]$, so a naive approach to this will fail.)  I shall discuss these and related results, many of which appear in the “brief upward glance” section of my recent paper:  G. Fuchs, J. D. Hamkins and J. Reitz, Set-theoretic geology.


The pluralist perspective on the axiom of constructibility, MidWest PhilMath Workshop, Notre Dame, October 2014

University of Notre DameThis will be a featured talk at the Midwest PhilMath Workshop 15, held at Notre Dame University October 18-19, 2014.  W. Hugh Woodin and I will each give one-hour talks in a session on Perspectives on the foundations of set theory, followed by a one-hour discussion of our talks.

Abstract. I shall argue that the commonly held $V\neq L$ via maximize position, which rejects the axiom of constructibility V = L on the basis that it is restrictive, implicitly takes a stand in the pluralist debate in the philosophy of set theory by presuming an absolute background concept of ordinal. The argument appears to lose its force, in contrast, on an upwardly extensible concept of set, in light of the various facts showing that models of set theory generally have extensions to models of V = L inside larger set-theoretic universes.

Set-theorists often argue against the axiom of constructibility V=L on the grounds that it is restrictive, that we have no reason to suppose that every set should be constructible and that it places an artificial limitation on set-theoretic possibility to suppose that every set is constructible. Penelope Maddy, in her work on naturalism in mathematics, sought to explain this perspective by means of the MAXIMIZE principle, and further to give substance to the concept of what it means for a theory to be restrictive, as a purely formal property of the theory. In this talk, I shall criticize Maddy’s proposal, pointing out that neither the fairly-interpreted-in relation nor the (strongly) maximizes-over relation is transitive, and furthermore, the theory ZFC + `there is a proper class of inaccessible cardinals’ is formally restrictive on Maddy’s account, contrary to what had been desired. Ultimately, I shall argue that the V≠L via maximize position loses its force on a multiverse conception of set theory with an upwardly extensible concept of set, in light of the classical facts that models of set theory can generally be extended to models of V=L. I shall conclude the talk by explaining various senses in which V=L remains compatible with strength in set theory.

This talk will be based on my paper, A multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructibility.

Slides

Higher infinity and the foundations of mathematics, plenary General Public Lecture, AAAS, June, 2014

I have been invited to give a plenary General Public Lecture at the 95th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Pacific Division), which will be held in Riverside, California, June 17-20, 2014.  The talk is sponsored by the BEST conference, which is meeting as a symposium at the larger AAAS conference.

This is truly a rare opportunity to communicate with a much wider community of scholars, to explain some of the central ideas and methods of set theory and the foundations of mathematics to a wider group of nonspecialist but mathematics-interested researchers. I hope to explain a little about the exciting goings-on in the foundations of mathematics.  Frankly, I feel deeply honored for the opportunity to represent my field in this way.

The talk will be aimed at a very general audience, the general public of the AAAS meeting, which is to say, mainly, scientists.  I also expect, however, that there will be a set-theory contingent present of participants from the BEST conference, which is a symposium at the conference — but I shall not take a stand here on whether mathematics is a science; you’ll have to come to my talk for that!

MissionInnPanoramaBestAbstract. Let me tell you the story of infinity and what is going on in the foundations of mathematics. For over a century, mathematicians have explored the soaring transfinite tower of different infinity concepts. Yet, fundamental questions at the foundation of this tower remain unsettled. Indeed, researchers in set theory and the foundations of mathematics have uncovered a pervasive independence phenomenon, whereby foundational mathematical questions are often in principle neither provable nor refutable. Presented with what may be these inherent limitations on our mathematical reasoning, we now face difficult philosophical questions on the nature of mathematical truth and the meaning of mathematical existence. Does mathematics need new axioms? Some mathematicians point the way the way towards what they describe as an ultimate theory of mathematical truth. Some adopt a scientific attitude, judging new mathematical axioms and theories by their predictions and explanatory power. Others propose a multiverse mathematical foundation with pluralist truth. In this talk, I shall take you from the basic concept of infinity and some simple paradoxes up to the continuum hypothesis and on to the higher infinity of large cardinals and the raging philosophical debates.

Slides | AAAS PD 2014 | Schedule | BEST | My other BEST talk

Satisfaction is not absolute

  • J. D. Hamkins and R. Yang, “Satisfaction is not absolute,” to appear in the Review of Symbolic Logic, pp. 1-34.  
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$\newcommand\N{\mathbb{N}}\newcommand\satisfies{\models}$

Abstract. We prove that the satisfaction relation $\mathcal{N}\satisfies\varphi[\vec a]$ of first-order logic is not absolute between models of set theory having the structure $\mathcal{N}$ and the formulas $\varphi$ all in common. Two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers, for example, and the same standard model of arithmetic $\langle\N,{+},{\cdot},0,1,{\lt}\rangle$, yet disagree on their theories of arithmetic truth; two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers and the same arithmetic truths, yet disagree on their truths-about-truth, at any desired level of the iterated truth-predicate hierarchy; two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers and the same reals, yet disagree on projective truth; two models of set theory can have the same $\langle H_{\omega_2},{\in}\rangle$ or the same rank-initial segment $\langle V_\delta,{\in}\rangle$, yet disagree on which assertions are true in these structures.

On the basis of these mathematical results, we argue that a philosophical commitment to the determinateness of the theory of truth for a structure cannot be seen as a consequence solely of the determinateness of the structure in which that truth resides. The determinate nature of arithmetic truth, for example, is not a consequence of the determinate nature of the arithmetic structure $\N=\{ 0,1,2,\ldots\}$ itself, but rather, we argue, is an additional higher-order commitment requiring its own analysis and justification.

Many mathematicians and philosophers regard the natural numbers $0,1,2,\ldots\,$, along with their usual arithmetic structure, as having a privileged mathematical existence, a Platonic realm in which assertions have definite, absolute truth values, independently of our ability to prove or discover them. Although there are some arithmetic assertions that we can neither prove nor refute—such as the consistency of the background theory in which we undertake our proofs—the view is that nevertheless there is a fact of the matter about whether any such arithmetic statement is true or false in the intended interpretation. The definite nature of arithmetic truth is often seen as a consequence of the definiteness of the structure of arithmetic $\langle\N,{+},{\cdot},0,1,{\lt}\rangle$ itself, for if the natural numbers exist in a clear and distinct totality in a way that is unambiguous and absolute, then (on this view) the first-order theory of truth residing in that structure—arithmetic truth—is similarly clear and distinct.

Feferman provides an instance of this perspective when he writes (Feferman 2013, Comments for EFI Workshop, p. 6-7) :

In my view, the conception [of the bare structure of the natural numbers] is completely clear, and thence all arithmetical statements are definite.

It is Feferman’s `thence’ to which we call attention.  Martin makes a similar point (Martin, 2012, Completeness or incompleteness of basic mathematical concepts):

What I am suggesting is that the real reason for confidence in first-order completeness is our confidence in the full determinateness of the concept of the natural numbers.

Many mathematicians and philosophers seem to share this perspective. The truth of an arithmetic statement, to be sure, does seem to depend entirely on the structure $\langle\N,{+},{\cdot},0,1,{\lt}\rangle$, with all quantifiers restricted to $\N$ and using only those arithmetic operations and relations, and so if that structure has a definite nature, then it would seem that the truth of the statement should be similarly definite.

Nevertheless, in this article we should like to tease apart these two ontological commitments, arguing that the definiteness of truth for a given mathematical structure, such as the natural numbers, the reals or higher-order structures such as $H_{\omega_2}$ or $V_\delta$, does not follow from the definite nature of the underlying structure in which that truth resides. Rather, we argue that the commitment to a theory of truth for a structure is a higher-order ontological commitment, going strictly beyond the commitment to a definite nature for the underlying structure itself.

We make our argument in part by proving that different models of set theory can have a structure identically in common, even the natural numbers, yet disagree on the theory of truth for that structure.

Theorem.

  • Two models of set theory can have the same structure of arithmetic $$\langle\N,{+},{\cdot},0,1,{\lt}\rangle^{M_1}=\langle\N,{+},{\cdot},0,1,{\lt}\rangle^{M_2},$$yet disagree on the theory of arithmetic truth.
  • Two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers and a computable linear order in common, yet disagree about whether it is a well-order.
  • Two models of set theory that have the same natural numbers and the same reals, yet disagree on projective truth.
  • Two models of set theory can have a transitive rank initial segment in common $$\langle V_\delta,{\in}\rangle^{M_1}=\langle V_\delta,{\in}\rangle^{M_2},$$yet disagree about whether it is a model of ZFC.

The proofs use only elementary classical methods, and might be considered to be a part of the folklore of the subject of models of arithmetic. The paper includes many further examples of the phenomenon, and concludes with a philosophical discussion of the issue of definiteness, concerning the question of whether one may deduce definiteness-of-truth from definiteness-of-objects and definiteness-of-structure.

 

Exploring the Frontiers of Incompleteness, Harvard, August 2013

I will be participating in the culminating workshop of the Exploring the Frontiers of Incompleteness conference series at Harvard University, to take place August 31-September 1, 2013.  Rather than conference talks, the program will consist of extended discussion sessions by the participants of the year-long series, with the discussion framed by very brief summary presentations.  Peter Koellner asked me to prepare such a presentation on the multiverse conception, and you can see the slides in The multiverse perspective in set theory (Slides).

My previous EFI talk was The multiverse perspective on determinateness in set theory, based in part on my paper The set-theoretical multiverse.

Pluralism in mathematics: the multiverse view in set theory and the question of whether every mathematical statement has a definite truth value, Rutgers, March 2013

This is a talk for the Rutgers Logic Seminar on March 25th, 2013.  Simon Thomas specifically requested that I give a talk aimed at philosophers.

Abstract.  I shall describe the debate on pluralism in the philosophy of set theory, specifically on the question of whether every mathematical and set-theoretic assertion has a definite truth value. A traditional Platonist view in set theory, which I call the universe view, holds that there is an absolute background concept of set and a corresponding absolute background set-theoretic universe in which every set-theoretic assertion has a final, definitive truth value. I shall try to tease apart two often-blurred aspects of this perspective, namely, to separate the claim that the set-theoretic universe has a real mathematical existence from the claim that it is unique. A competing view, the multiverse view, accepts the former claim and rejects the latter, by holding that there are many distinct concepts of set, each instantiated in a corresponding set-theoretic universe, and a corresponding pluralism of set-theoretic truths. After framing the dispute, I shall argue that the multiverse position explains our experience with the enormous diversity of set-theoretic possibility, a phenomenon that is one of the central set-theoretic discoveries of the past fifty years and one which challenges the universe view. In particular, I shall argue that the continuum hypothesis is settled on the multiverse view by our extensive knowledge about how it behaves in the multiverse, and as a result it can no longer be settled in the manner formerly hoped for.

Some of this material arises in my recent articles:

On the axiom of constructibility and Maddy’s conception of restrictive theories, Logic Workshop, February 2013

This is a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop on February 15, 2013.

This talk will be based on my paper, A multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructibility.

Set-theorists often argue against the axiom of constructibility $V=L$ on the grounds that it is restrictive, that we have no reason to suppose that every set should be constructible and that it places an artificial limitation on set-theoretic possibility to suppose that every set is constructible.  Penelope Maddy, in her work on naturalism in mathematics, sought to explain this perspective by means of the MAXIMIZE principle, and further to give substance to the concept of what it means for a theory to be restrictive, as a purely formal property of the theory.

In this talk, I shall criticize Maddy’s specific proposal.  For example, it turns out that the fairly-interpreted-in relation on theories is not transitive, and similarly the maximizes-over and strongly-maximizes-over relations are not transitive.  Further, the theory ZFC + `there is a proper class of inaccessible cardinals’ is formally restrictive on Maddy’s proposal, although this is not what she had desired.

Ultimately, I argue that the $V\neq L$ via maximize position loses its force on a multiverse conception of set theory, in light of the classical facts that models of set theory can generally be extended to (taller) models of $V=L$.  In particular, every countable model of set theory is a transitive set inside a model of $V=L$.  I shall conclude the talk by explaining various senses in which $V=L$ remains compatible with strength in set theory.

Pluralism in set theory: does every mathematical statement have a definite truth value? GC Philosophy Colloquium, 2012

This will be my talk for the CUNY Graduate Center Philosophy Colloquium on November 28, 2012.

I will be speaking on topics from some of my recent articles:

I shall give a summary account of some current issues in the philosophy of set theory, specifically, the debate on pluralism and the question of the determinateness of set-theoretical and mathematical truth.  The traditional Platonist view in set theory, what I call the universe view, holds that there is an absolute background concept of set and a corresponding absolute background set-theoretic universe in which every set-theoretic assertion has a final, definitive truth value.  What I would like to do is to tease apart two often-blurred aspects of this perspective, namely, to separate the claim that the set-theoretic universe has a real mathematical existence from the claim that it is unique.  A competing view, which I call the multiverse view, accepts the former claim and rejects the latter, by holding that there are many distinct concepts of set, each instantiated in a corresponding set-theoretic universe, and a corresponding pluralism of set-theoretic truths.  After framing the dispute, I shall argue that the multiverse position explains our experience with the enormous diversity of set-theoretic possibility, a phenomenon that is one of the central set-theoretic discoveries of the past fifty years and one which challenges the universe view. In particular, I shall argue that the continuum hypothesis is settled on the multiverse view by our extensive knowledge about how it behaves in the multiverse, and as a result it can no longer be settled in the manner formerly hoped for.

Slides

A multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructiblity

  • J. D. Hamkins, “A multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructibility,” in Infinity and truth, World Sci. Publ., Hackensack, NJ, 2014, vol. 25, pp. 25-45.  
    @incollection {Hamkins2014:MultiverseOnVeqL,
    AUTHOR = {Hamkins, Joel David},
    TITLE = {A multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructibility},
    BOOKTITLE = {Infinity and truth},
    SERIES = {Lect. Notes Ser. Inst. Math. Sci. Natl. Univ. Singap.},
    VOLUME = {25},
    PAGES = {25--45},
    PUBLISHER = {World Sci. Publ., Hackensack, NJ},
    YEAR = {2014},
    MRCLASS = {03E45 (03A05)},
    MRNUMBER = {3205072},
    DOI = {10.1142/9789814571043_0002},
    url = {http://jdh.hamkins.org/multiverse-perspective-on-constructibility/},
    eprint = {1210.6541},
    archivePrefix = {arXiv},
    primaryClass = {math.LO},
    }

This article expands on an argument that I made during my talk at the Asian Initiative for Infinity: Workshop on Infinity and Truth, held July 25–29, 2011 at the Institute for Mathematical Sciences, National University of Singapore, and will be included in a proceedings volume that is being prepared for that conference.

Abstract. I argue that the commonly held $V\neq L$ via maximize position, which rejects the axiom of constructibility $V=L$ on the basis that it is restrictive, implicitly takes a stand in the pluralist debate in the philosophy of set theory by presuming an absolute background concept of ordinal. The argument appears to lose its force, in contrast, on an upwardly extensible concept of set, in light of the various facts showing that models of set theory generally have extensions to models of $V=L$ inside larger set-theoretic universes.

In section two, I provide a few new criticisms of Maddy’s proposed concept of `restrictive’ theories, pointing out that her concept of fairly interpreted in is not a transitive relation: there is a first theory that is fairly interpreted in a second, which is fairly interpreted in a third, but the first is not fairly interpreted in the third.  The same example (and one can easily construct many similar natural examples) shows that neither the maximizes over relation, nor the properly maximizes over relation, nor the strongly maximizes over relation is transitive.  In addition, the theory ZFC + `there are unboundedly many inaccessible cardinals’ comes out as formally restrictive, since it is strongly maximized by the theory ZF + `there is a measurable cardinal, with no worldly cardinals above it’.

To support the main philosophical thesis of the article, I survey a series of mathemtical results,  which reveal various senses in which the axiom of constructibility $V=L$ is compatible with strength in set theory, particularly if one has in mind the possibility of moving from one universe of set theory to a much larger one.  Among them are the following, which I prove or sketch in the article:

Observation. The constructible universe $L$ and $V$ agree on the consistency of any constructible theory. They have models of the same constructible theories.

Theorem. The constructible universe $L$ and $V$ have transitive models of exactly the same constructible theories in the language of set theory.

Corollary. (Levy-Shoenfield absoluteness theorem)  In particular, $L$ and $V$ satisfy the same $\Sigma_1$ sentences, with parameters hereditarily countable in $L$. Indeed, $L_{\omega_1^L}$ and $V$ satisfy the same such sentences.

Theorem. Every countable transitive set is a countable transitive set in the well-founded part of an $\omega$-model of V=L.

Theorem. If there are arbitrarily large $\lambda<\omega_1^L$ with $L_\lambda\models\text{ZFC}$, then every countable transitive set $M$ is a countable transitive set inside a structure $M^+$  that is a pointwise-definable model of ZFC + V=L, and $M^+$ is well founded as high in the countable ordinals as desired.

Theorem. (Barwise)  Every countable model of  ZF has an end-extension to a model of ZFC + V=L.

Theorem. (Hamkins, see here)  Every countable model of set theory $\langle M,{\in^M}\rangle$, including every transitive model, is isomorphic to a submodel of its own constructible universe $\langle L^M,{\in^M}\rangle$. In other words,  there is an embedding $j:M\to L^M$, which is elementary for quantifier-free assertions.

Another way to say this is that every countable model of set theory is a submodel of a model isomorphic to $L^M$. If we lived inside $M$, then by adding new sets and elements, our universe could be transformed into a copy of the constructible universe $L^M$.

(Plus, the article contains some nice diagrams.)

Related Singapore links:

Every countable model of set theory is isomorphic to a submodel of its own constructible universe, Barcelona, December, 2012

This will be a talk for a set theory workshop at the University of Barcelona on December 15, 2012, organized by Joan Bagaria.

Vestíbul Universitat de Barcelona

Abstract. Every countable model of set theory $M$, including every well-founded model, is isomorphic to a submodel of its own constructible universe. In other words, there is an embedding $j:M\to L^M$ that is elementary for quantifier-free assertions. The proof uses universal digraph combinatorics, including an acyclic version of the countable random digraph, which I call the countable random $\mathbb{Q}$-graded digraph, and higher analogues arising as uncountable Fraisse limits, leading to the hypnagogic digraph, a set-homogeneous, class-universal, surreal-numbers-graded acyclic class digraph, closely connected with the surreal numbers. The proof shows that $L^M$ contains a submodel that is a universal acyclic digraph of rank $\text{Ord}^M$. The method of proof also establishes that the countable models of set theory are linearly pre-ordered by embeddability: for any two countable models of set theory, one of them is isomorphic to a submodel of the other.  Indeed, the bi-embeddability classes form a well-ordered chain of length $\omega_1+1$.  Specifically, the countable well-founded models are ordered by embeddability in accordance with the heights of their ordinals; every shorter model embeds into every taller model; every model of set theory $M$ is universal for all countable well-founded binary relations of rank at most $\text{Ord}^M$; and every ill-founded model of set theory is universal for all countable acyclic binary relations. Finally, strengthening a classical theorem of Ressayre, the same proof method shows that if $M$ is any nonstandard model of PA, then every countable model of set theory—in particular, every model of ZFC—is isomorphic to a submodel of the hereditarily finite sets $HF^M$ of $M$. Indeed, $HF^M$ is universal for all countable acyclic binary relations.

Article | Barcelona research group in set theory

A question for the mathematics oracle

At the Workshop on Infinity and Truth in Singapore last year, we had a special session in which the speakers were asked to imagine that they had been granted an audience with an all-knowing mathematical oracle, given the opportunity to ask a single yes-or-no question, to be truthfully answered.  These questions will be gathered together and published in the conference volume.  Here is my account.

 

A question for the mathematics oracle

Joel David Hamkins, The City University of New York

 

Granted an audience with an all-knowing mathematics oracle, we may ask a single yes-or-no question, to be truthfully answered……

I might mischievously ask the question my six-year-old daughter Hypatia often puts to our visitors:  “Answer yes or no.  Will you answer `no’?” They stammer, caught in the liar paradox, as she giggles. But my actual question is:

Are we correct in thinking we have an absolute concept of the finite?

An absolute concept of the finite underlies many mathematician’s understanding of the nature of mathematical truth. Most mathematicians, for example, believe that we have an absolute concept of the finite, which determines the natural numbers as a unique mathematical structure—$0,1,2,$ and so on—in which arithmetic assertions have definitive truth values. We can prove after all that the second-order Peano axioms characterize $\langle\mathbb{N},S,0\rangle$ as the unique inductive structure, determined up to isomorphism by the fact that $0$ is not a successor, the successor function $S$ is one-to-one and every set containing $0$ and closed under $S$ is the whole of $\mathbb{N}$. And to be finite means simply to be equinumerous with a proper initial segment of this structure. Doesn’t this categoricity proof therefore settle the matter?

I don’t think so. The categoricity proof, which takes place in set theory, seems to my way of thinking merely to push the absoluteness question for finiteness off to the absoluteness question for sets instead. And surely this is a murkier realm, where already mathematicians do not universally agree that we have a single absolute background concept of set. We know by forcing and other means how to construct alternative set concepts, which seem fully as legitimate and set-theoretic as the set concepts from which they are derived. Thus, we have a plurality of set concepts, and our confidence in a unique absolute set-theoretic background is weakened. How then can we sensibly base our confidence in an absolute concept of the finite on set theory? Perhaps this absoluteness is altogether illusory.

My worries are put to rest if the oracle should answer positively. A negative answer, meanwhile, would raise alarms. A negative answer could indicate, on the one hand, that our understanding of the finite is simply incoherent, a catastrophe, where our cherished mathematical theories are all inconsistent. But, more likely in my view, a negative answer could also mean that there is an undiscovered plurality of concepts of the finite. I imagine technical developments arising that would provide us with tools to modify the arithmetic of a model of set theory, for example, with the same power and flexibility that forcing currently allows us to modify higher-order features, while not providing us with any reason to prefer one arithmetic to another (unlike our current methods with non-standard models). The discovery of such tools would be an amazing development in mathematics and lead to radical changes in our conception of mathematical truth.

Let’s have some fun—please post your question for the oracle in the comment fields below.

A question for the math oracle (pdf) | My talk at the Workshop