Models of deduction

Synthese 148 (3):639 - 657 (2006)
Abstract
In standard model theory, deductions are not the things one models. But in general proof theory, in particular in categorial proof theory, one finds models of deductions, and the purpose here is to motivate a simple example of such models. This will be a model of deductions performed within an abstract context, where we do not have any particular logical constant, but something underlying all logical constants. In this context, deductions are represented by arrows in categories involved in a general adjoint situation. To motivate the notion of adjointness, one of the central notions of category theory, and of mathematics in general, it is first considered how some features of it occur in set-theoretical axioms and in the axioms of the lambda calculus. Next, it is explained how this notion arises in the context of deduction, where it characterizes logical constants. It is shown also how the categorial point of view suggests an analysis of propositional identity. The problem of propositional identity, i.e., the problem of identity of meaning for propositions, is no doubt a philosophical problem, but the spirit of the analysis proposed here will be rather mathematical. Finally, it is considered whether models of deductions can pretend to be a semantics. This question, which as so many questions having to do with meaning brings us to that wall that blocked linguists and philosophers during the whole of the twentieth century, is merely posed. At the very end, there is the example of a geometrical model of adjunction. Without pretending that it is a semantics, it is hoped that this model may prove illuminating and useful.
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