The dissertation introduces new sequent-calculi for free first- and second-order logic, and a hyper-sequent calculus for modal logics K, D, T, B, S4, and S5; to attain the calculi for the stronger modal logics, only external structural rules need to be added to the calculus for K, while operational and internal structural rules remain the same. Completeness and cut-elimination are proved for all calculi presented.
Philosophically, the dissertation develops an inferentialist, or proof-theoretic, theory of meaning. It takes as a starting point that the sense of a sentence is determined by the rules governing its use. In particular, there are two features of the use of a sentence that jointly determine its sense, the conditions under which it is coherent to assert that sentence and the conditions under which it is coherent to deny that sentence. The dissertation develops a theory of quantification as marking coherent ways a language can be expanded and modality as the means by which we can reflect on the norms governing the assertion and denial conditions of our language. If the view of quantification that is argued for is correct, then there is no tension between second-order quantification and nominalism. In particular, the ontological commitments one can incur through the use of a quantifier depend wholly on the ontological commitments one can incur through the use of atomic sentences. The dissertation concludes by applying the developed theory of meaning to the metaphysical issue of necessitism and contingentism. Two objections to a logic of contingentism are raised and addressed. The resulting logic is shown to meet all the requirement that the dissertation lays out for a theory of meaning for quantifiers and modal operators.
Abstract prepared by Andrew Parisi