Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Modality, Quantification, and Many Vlach-Operators

Correia, Fabrice

In: Journal of Philosophical Logic, 2007, vol. 36, no. 4, p. 473-488

Consider two standard quantified modal languages A and P whose vocabularies comprise the identity predicate and the existence predicate, each endowed with a standard S5 Kripke semantics where the models have a distinguished actual world, which differ only in that the quantifiers of A are actualist while those of P are possibilist. Is it possible to enrich these... Plus

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    Summary
    Consider two standard quantified modal languages A and P whose vocabularies comprise the identity predicate and the existence predicate, each endowed with a standard S5 Kripke semantics where the models have a distinguished actual world, which differ only in that the quantifiers of A are actualist while those of P are possibilist. Is it possible to enrich these languages in the same manner, in a non-trivial way, so that the two resulting languages are equally expressive—i.e., so that for each sentence of one language there is a sentence of the other language such that given any model, the former sentence is true at the actual world of the model iff the latter is? Forbes (1989) shows that this can be done by adding to both languages a pair of sentential operators called Vlach-operators, and imposing a syntactic restriction on their occurrences in formulas. As Forbes himself recognizes, this restriction is somewhat artificial. The first result I establish in this paper is that one gets sameness of expressivity by introducing infinitely many distinct pairs of indexed Vlach-operators. I then study the effect of adding to our enriched modal languages a rigid actuality operator. Finally, I discuss another means of enriching both languages which makes them expressively equivalent, one that exploits devices introduced in Peacocke (1978). Forbes himself mentions that option but does not prove that the resulting languages are equally expressive. I do, and I also compare the Peacockian and the Vlachian methods. In due course, I introduce an alternative notion of expressivity and I compare the Peacockian and the Vlachian languages in terms of that other notion.