Notes on a semantic analysis of variable binding term operators

Logique Et Analyse 55:644-657 (1971)
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A variable binding term operator (vbto) is a non-logical constant, say v, which combines with a variable y and a formula F containing y free to form a term (vy:F) whose free variables are exact ly those of F, excluding y. Kalish-Montague proposed using vbtos to formalize definite descriptions, set abstracts {x: F}, minimalization in recursive function theory, etc. However, they gave no sematics for vbtos. Hatcher gave a semantics but one that has flaws. We give a correct semantic analysis of vbtos. We also give axioms for using them in deductions. And we conjecture strong completeness for the deductions with respect to the semantics. The conjecture was later proved independently by the authors and by Newton da Costa. The expression (vy:F) is called a variable bound term (vbt). In case F has only y free, (vy:F) has the syntactic propreties of an individual constant; and under a suitable interpretation of the language vy:F) denotes an individual. By a semantic analysis of vbtos we mean a proposal for amending the standard notions of (1) "an interpretation o f a first -order language" and (2) " the denotation of a term under an interpretation and an assignment", such that (1') an interpretation o f a first -order language associates a set-theoretic structure with each vbto and (2') under any interpretation and assignment each vb t denotes an individual.

Author's Profile

John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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