Metalogic and the Overgeneration Argument

Talk held by Luca Incurvati (University of Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) at the KGRC Friday seminar on 2017‑03‑31.


A prominent objection against the logicality of second-order logic is the so-called Overgeneration Argument. However, it is far from clear how this argument is to be understood. In the first part of the article, we examine the argument and locate its main source, namely the alleged entanglement of second-order logic and mathematics. We then identify various reasons why the entanglement may be thought to be problematic. In the second part of the article, we take a metatheoretic perspective on the matter. We prove a number of results establishing that the entanglement is sensitive to the kind of semantics used for second-order logic. These results provide evidence that, by moving from the standard set-theoretic semantics for second-order logic to a semantics which makes use of higher-order resources, the entanglement either disappears or may no longer be in conflict with the logicality of second-order logic.

This is joint work with Salvatore Florio.

Time and Place

Sandwiches at 12:00pm in the KGRC meeting room

Talk at a convenient time afterward in the KGRC lecture room

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