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Jaakko Hintikka "GAME-THEORETICAL SEMANTICS AS A CHALLENGE TO PROOF THEORY"

Jaakko Hintikka "GAME-THEORETICAL SEMANTICS AS A CHALLENGE TO PROOF THEORY"

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11/19/2012

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Jaakko Hintikka
GAME-THEORETICAL SEMANTICSAS A CHALLENGE TO PROOF THEORY
Game-theoretical semantics (GTS) is but a systematizationof the familiar “epsilon-deltatechnique of mathematicians. Itrelies essentially on the game-theoretical notion of strategy for itstruth definition. Since we want to express all possible patternsof dependence among variables by means of our logic, we mustreplace the received first-order logic by an independence-friendly(IF) logic. This logic is semantically incomplete. Hence we can-not characterize the meanings of logical notions by their inferencerules. This changes the role of logic in mathematics from fallacypolicing to a search for stronger logical principles. Since a typ-ical mathematical problem is equivalent to the validity of someIF first-order formula, this makes a (reoriented) proof theory theengine of discovery in mathematics.
The theory known as game-theoretical semantics (GTS) is revolu-tionizing logic and the foundations of mathematics. (For this researchapproach seeHintikka and Sandu 1997; for its impact on the founda-tions of mathematics, seeHintikka 1996.) For one thing, it promptsimmediately the question whether the semantical games this approachoperates with are games with perfect information or not. Since thelatter answer is self-consistent, GTS leads inevitably to the develop-ment of a logic in which moves connected with nested quantifiers canbe informationally independent of each other. This logic is knownas independence-friendly (IF) logic. Since it is the unrestricted basiclogic of quantifiers, it is nevertheless unnatural to give it a qualifiedname. Instead, it should be called the logic of quantifiers or first-order logic
simpliciter 
and the received first-order logic should be calleddependence-handicapped logic. (Or would it perhaps be more correctpolitically to call it independence-challenged logic?) By means of IFlogic, we can among other things obtain a radical
Aufhebung 
of Tarski’sfamous impossibility theorem concerning the definability of truth. This
Nordic Journal of Philosophical Logic, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.127 – 141.
c
2000 Taylor & Francis.
 
128
jaakko hintikka
impossibility is generally blamed on the fact that the relevant first-order languages are too strong, so strong that the Liar Paradox arisesin them, making a truth-definition impossible. In reality, the Tarskianimpossibility is due to the relevant languages being too weak in theirexpressive capacities: informational independence between quantifiersis not always expressible in them (seeHintikka 1998). When this defectis corrected, truth-predicates for a suitable first-order language can beformulated in the same language (cf.Hintikka, forthcoming).In IF first-order logic, the law of excluded middle does not hold. Inother words, the negation defined by the usual GTS rules is a strong(dual) negation, not the contradictory negation. By adding a sentence-initial contradictory negation, we obtain a stronger extended IF first-order logic.But what is the history of this powerful new logic? Where didit originate? How old is it? Even though its explicit, self-containedformulation of GTS is of a relatively recent origin, there is a rich his-tory of the use of game-theoretical ideas in logic and in mathematics.This history is in fact so rich and subtle that one cannot do justiceto it in one paper. The referee of this paper has kindly remindedme of such names as Borel, Brouwer, Novikov, Lorenzen and ThierryCoquard. One key to their role is the relationship of game strategiesto the notion of choice sequence. Another logician might prefer to tryto link the subterranean history of GTS to such ideas as Skolem func-tion or Hilbert’s epsilon-technique. For the purposes of this paper, Iwill restrict my attention to what is the most explicit anticipation of the game-theoretical interpretation of quantifiers. It was discovered byHilpinen(1983). He shows that Charles S. Peirce presented an explicit game-theoretical interpretation of quantifiers, complete with two play-ers (“utterer” or “defender” vs. “interpreter” or “opponent”). Amongother things, Peirce realized clearly that the difference between an exis-tential and a universal quantifier lies in the player who makes the choiceof the value of the variable bound to it. He is likewise cognizant of theimportance of the order in which the different moves in the quantifiergames are made, and so on. Most importantly, game-theoretical ideaswere not used by Peirce as a gimmick to interpret logical inferences,but as spelling out the very meaning of quantifiers.Peirce’s game-theoretical perspective on quantifiers and on theirlogic was not merely an illustration or a metaphor. It helped to sen-sitize him to some of the most interesting aspects of the behavior of quantifiers, for instance to the importance of quantifier ordering andto their role in spelling out some of the most important mathemati-cal concepts, such as the concepts of continuity and derivation. The
 
game-theoretical semantics
129significance of these insights is perhaps appreciated more keenly if onecompares Peirce with Frege, who is usually thought of as the father of quantification theory. Frege never seems to have emphasized or as muchas appreciated the role of quantifiers as the way of implementing theWeierstrassian epsilon-delta technique which was the backbone of theentire arithmetization of analysis. One might thus suggest that Peircewas a better quantification theorist than Frege. If so, his superioritystems from the same source as his awareness of the game-theoreticalinterpretations of quantifiers.But this suggestion prompts a historical near-paradox. Why didPeirce fail to make any significant use of the game-theoretical interpre-tation of quantifiers? For fail he did; his game interpretation remaineda semiotic curiosity which did not play any overt role in his logical the-ory. What went wrong? What is it about the use of game-theoreticalnotions that has later led to spectacular developments but was missedby Peirce? Clearly it is not the use of game-theoretical terminology.The answer is surprisingly simple. Whatever else we might requireof an adequate logical language, it must be able to express all possiblepatterns of dependence and independence between variables. Now suchdependences between variables are in a first-order language expressedby dependences between quantifiers. For instance,
y
depends on
x
according to the law
D
[
x,y
] if and only if the following are true:(
x
)(
y
)
D
[
x,y
](1)(
x
)(
y
)(
u
)((
D
[
x,y
]&
D
[
x,u
])
y
=
u
)(2)Here the dependence of the variable
x
on
y
is expressed by means of the dependence of the quantifier (
y
) in (1) on another one, i.e. (
x
).More complicated patterns of dependence and independence betweenvariables can be expressed by more complicated patterns of dependenceand independence between quantifiers.But what precisely is meant by a dependence relation between quan-tifiers? Received logical theory does not offer us any built-in explana-tion beyond some intuitive pretheoretical idea of dependence. It is herethat game-theoretical semantics comes to the rescue. In game theory,there is ready and available an explicit concept that captures the rele-vant idea of dependence. It is the notion of informational dependenceof a move on another in a strategic game. If and only if the playermaking a move
m
2 knows what happened at another move
m
1, is
m
2dependent on
m
1. This is also expressed by saying that move
m
1 is inthe information set associated with move
m
2.Game-theoretical concepts are not the only ones that can be usedto spell out such dependence relations, although I believe that they are

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