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Modal semantics without possible worlds

  • John T. Kearns (a1)


In this paper I will develop a semantic account for modal logic by considering only the values of sentences (and formulas). This account makes no use of possible worlds. To develop such an account, we must recognize four values. These are obtained by subdividing (plain) truth into necessary truth (T) and contingent truth (t); and by subdividing falsity into contingent falsity (f) and necessary falsity (impossibility: F). The semantic account results from reflecting on these concepts and on the meanings of the logical operators.

To begin with, we shall consider the propositional language L0. The language L0 has (1) infinitely many atomic sentences, (2) the two truth-functional connectives ∼, ∨, and the modal operator □. (Square brackets are used for punctuation.) The other logical expressions are defined as follows:

D1 [A & B] = (def)∼[∼A ∨ ∼ B],

D2 [AB] = (def)[∼AB],

D3A =(def)∼□∼A.

I shall use matrices to give partial characterizations of the significance of logical expressions in L0. For negation, this matrix is wholly adequate:

Upon reflection, it should be clear that this matrix is the obviously correct matrix for negation.



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[1]Hughes, G. E. and Cresswell, M. J., An introduction to modal logic, Methuen, London, 1968.
[2]Kripke, Saul A., Naming and necessity, Semantics of natural language (Davidson, Donald and Harman, Gilbert, Editors), Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland, 1972, pp. 253355.


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