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1 Introduction to Metatheory 2
1.1 Metatheory: What? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

2 Adequate sets of connectives 5

3 Soundness 16
3.1 Soundness - The Basic idea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.2 Soundness of the Simpler System SD& . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.3 Soundness for SD& - in the form presented in the textbook . . 27
3.4 A complication - extra assumptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
3.5 Aside: Some Useful Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
3.6 A Slightly Trickier Case: Conditional Introduction . . . . . . . 45
3.7 Negation Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

1. Introduction to Metatheory
1.1. Metatheory: What?

In the rst parts of the class, we learned about a partic-

ular system SL for representing arguments.

We learned the truth-table method for interpreting the

sentences of SL, which allowed us to classify arguments
into valid and invalid.

In symbols: We learned how to show that  S

We also learned the system SD for deriving sentences in

SL from a set of premises in SL.

In symbols, we learned how to show that S

Here is a metatheoretic question: What is the relation-

ship of these two concepts of good argument to one an-

The concepts of these two types of good argument
are entirely different.

One has to do with inferences that are truth-preserving,

the other has to do with inferences that can be broken
down into small, fundamental steps.

It is not obvious that arguments that are good in one of

these senses have to be good in another.

But in fact, as well learn in the next two weeks these two
concepts count exactly the same arguments from SL as
good ones.

There are two big results and one medium-sized result on
the agenda for the coming three weeks.

Well look at one of the big results this week:

The Soundness Theorem, that if a sentence S of SL is

derivable in SD from premises in the set , then it is a
truth-functional consequence of .

In symbols, S  S

The second big result will be the topic for the following
two weeks:

The Completeness Theorem, that if a sentence S of SL

is a truth-functional consequence of then S is derivable
in SD from .

In symbols:  S S

2. Adequate sets of connectives

Before taking these up, Ill rst take up the medium-sized

result: that the connectives we are given in SL are ade-
quate to express all truth-functions.

(Note: The textbook uses the expression truth-functionally

complete for what I am calling adequate to express all
truth functions. I prefer adequate for... because it
doesnt create confusion with the use of complete in
the completeness theorem.)

To explain sharply what that means, Ill need to dene

an expression that Ive been using informally:

A truth-function (of n places) is a rule that assigns a

truth-value to every possible collection of n truth-values.

To put it in more familiar terms: An n-place truth-

function is the rule represented by a truth-table for n
sentence letters.

Now you might ask: is there a truth-function or truth-
table that we cant write as a sentence in the language

The answer is: no. Every truth-table that assigns a truth-

value to all the combinations of n truth-values is the
truth-table corresponding to some sentence of SL with
n sentence letters.

In fact, we can make an even more restricted claim:

Every truth-table that assigns a truth-value to all the

combinations of n truth-values is the truth-table for some
sentence of SL that contains only the connectives & ,
and , plus instances of n sentence letters.

The proof of this turns out to be straightforward: there
is a mechanical procedure that takes a truth-table cor-
responding to a truth function and gives you a sentence
in SL containing just &, and , which has the given


Say you are given this truth-table:

A B ?
You want to produce a sentence of SL that has exactly
that truth-table.

Lets break down the truth-table line by line. Heres the
rst line:

A B ?
You can think of this line as this outcome for the two
possibilities A and B: A happens, and B happens.

A sentence stating that this possibility happens is:


(The textbook uses the expression characteristic sen-

tence for the row to describe the property of correspond-
ing to a row in this way.)

The line assigns F to this possibility, which says: This

possibility doesnt occur.

Now lets look at the second line:

A B ?
You can think of this line as this outcome for the two
possibilities A and B: A happens, and B doesnt hap-

A sentence stating that this possibility happens is:

A& B.

The line assigns T to this possibility, which says: This

possibility does occur.

So lets look at the truth table, indicating for each line
the associated sentence that would be true if that line is
the one that actually happens.

Associated Sentence A B ?
A& B T F T T-table says this one might occur
A& B F F T T-table says this one might occur

The truth table as a whole surveys four possibilities, and

it indicates that exactly which ones it says might oc-
cur by tagging them with T.

This points the way to a sentence that the truth-table

calls true on exactly those possibilities marked T, by tak-
ing the disjunction of the associated sentences on the
T lines:

(A& B) (A& B)

The given truth-table is the truth-table for this sentence.

In table form:

A B (A& B) (A& B)

This procedure can be carried out for any truth table.
Say you are given this truth table:
A B C ?

First identify the lines that the table assigns T:

A B C ?

Then write the associated sentences: the conjunction of
sentence letters (when the sentence letter gets T on that
row) and negated sentence letters (when the sentence let-
ter gets F on that row):
A B C ?
A& B&C T F T T
A&B& C F T F T
A& B& C F F F T

Then form the disjunction of these associated sentences,

and you have a sentence that has the given truth-table.

A B C (A& B&C) (A&B& C) (A& B& C)


Further observations:

We can reduce the needed connectives even further, thanks

to the De Morgan Laws:

(A B) is truth - functionally equivalent to A&B

(A&B) is truth - functionally equivalent to AB

These tell us that we can translate any sentence contain-

ing just , & to an equivalent sentence containing just
, & or a sentence containing just , .

(The set {, } is also adequate for all truth functions,

though I wont prove that here. If you are curious, check
out the textbook website solutions to (unstarred) prob-
lem 6.2E #4 (p. 243))

In fact, you can give a single connective that is adequate
for all truth-functions.

What is more, there are two dierent connectives that

will work.

I wont discuss the details in class, since I want to pass

on to soundness.

You can see the truth-table for the two universal connec-
tives in problems p. 243 6.2 E # 5 and # 6.

3. Soundness
3.1. Soundness - The Basic idea

There are two things you need to note about the proof of
the soundness theorem.

a) It is a proof by induction. But fortunately the induc-

tive structure is straightforward.

The point is that every proof of more than one line is

made up of shorter proofs.

b) The proof of the induction step involves checking 12

(!) cases.

Fortunately, none of those cases is unduly challenging.

The number may seem daunting, but each case is simi-
lar, and well take them one at a time.

3.2. Soundness of the Simpler System SD&

Also, with so many cases, its easy to lose track of the

basic structure of the inductive argument if you have
too many cases to check, so I want to consider a sim-
pler derivation system rst.

From the proof for this system we can get a sense of what
the inductive argument overall looks like. The full sound-
ness theorem diers from this one only in that you have
more rules to check in the inductive step.

Say that the system SD& is the deriviation system whose

only rules are the & E rule and the & I rule.

Assumptions are allowed, but they must all be made at

the very beginning of a proof. No further assumptions
once the proof gets started.

The symbols for S is derivable in SD& from will be

SD& S.

Claim: SD& S  S. (i.e. SD& is sound.)

To see how we might prove this, lets consider how it

might turn out to be false. [The point is to show that it
this wont happen.]

If the claim were false, then there would be some set

= {P1, P2, . . . , Pn}

and sentence S such that:

{P1, P2, . . . , Pn} SD& S but {P1, P2, . . . , Pn}  S.

Just to see what would happen, lets say that we could

nd such a {P1, P2, . . . , Pn} and S.

Then there would be at least one truth-assignment to the

sentence letters in the sentences in {P1, P2, . . . , Pn, S}
that would make all the sentences in {P1, P2, . . . , Pn}
true, and would make S false.

Say we had such a truth-assignment. Ill call it Truth-

assignment W because it will be useful to have a label
for it.

OK, now lets think about what it means to say
{P1, P2, . . . , Pn} SD& S.

It tells us that we have a deriviation, using only the rules

& E and & I, that takes P1, P2, . . . , Pn as assumptions,
and has S as its last line.

Here is a high-level map of the derivation, with comments

on what Truth-assignment W does:

P1 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

P2 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

Pn Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)


S (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W)

Lets look at the sentences in the lines between the premises
and the conclusion S, and ask: what truth-value do these
sentences get?

P1 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

P2 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
Pn Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
D1 (Assigned ? by Truth Assignment W)
D2 (Assigned ? by Truth Assignment W)
D3 (Assigned ? by Truth Assignment W)
Di (Assigned ? by Truth Assignment W)
S (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W)

Here is a key point: If we start out with a string of Ts,
and at some point we end up with an F, there must be a
first line at which an F appears:

P1 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

P2 Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
Pn Assumption (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
D1 (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
D2 (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
D3 (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
.. ..
. .
. (All sentences here assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
.. ..
. .
Dj (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)
Dj+1 (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W!!!)
Di (Assigned ? by Truth Assignment W)
S (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W)

To repeat: if you have a derivation in SD& whose premises
are assigned true and whose conclusion is assigned false,
then there must be a rst line of the derivation at which
the sentence on that line is assigned false.

Turning things around: if we can show it is impossible to

have such a rst line at which a sentence is assigned F,
we thereby show that its impossible to have a derivation
of a false conclusion from true premises using SD&!

How does that help us? Because it means we only have

to check one line! We dont have to consider the entire

And, it means that we can make an assumption that will

simplify the task: we can assume that all the lines prior
to the one we are checking get assigned T .

This is, in fact, just a dierent way of imagining what

the induction hypothesis is.

To be clear on the point, Ill review how we got here.

We are given that there is a derivation like the one just

outlined, of S from {P1, P2, . . . , Pn}.

We assumed (in order to get a contradiction) that

{P1, P2, . . . , Pn}  S.

That entails that there is a truth assignment W mak-

ing the premises true and S false.

So in the derivation, there must be a first line that

gets called F by W (with all lines higher in the derivation
called T). This is the key point that allows us to apply

So now we want to show that there cannot be a single

line in a derivation in SD& that infers a false line from
two or more true lines (given some background truth as-

How do we show that? Well, fortunately, SD& involves
just two rules, and they are both simple. We have two
possibilities, putting a magnifying glass on the lines where
the F rst appears:

We could have:

Every sentence to this point assigned T by W

Dm (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

Dj (Assigned T by Truth Assignment W)

Dj+1 = Dj &Dm by & I (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W)

S (Assigned F by Truth Assignment W)

Or we could have:

Every sentence to this point a


Dj (= Dj+1&Dm or Dm&Dj+1) (Assigned T by Truth Assignm

Dj+1 by & E (Assigned F by Truth

S (Assigned F by Truth Assignm

In both of these cases, you can just draw the truth tables
to show that this cant happen (I will leave it as an exer-
cise for you to draw them):

If Dj+1&Dm is true, then Dj+1 must be true.

And if both Dj+1 and Dm are true, then Dj+1&Dm must

also be true.

And that, in a nutshell, is the inductive part of the sound-
ness proof. The proof for the full system SD just involves
checking more rules.

And because the rules involve assumptions, the checking

is a bit more intricate.

But the basic idea remains the same: Show that no sin-
gle inference in SD can take you from true premises to a
false conclusion.

Or in other words: given any single inference in SD, the

premises of that inference truth-functionally entail the
conclusion of the inference.

3.3. Soundness for SD& - in the form presented in the textbook

Now I want to make the proof a bit closer to the full proof
for SD.

I still want to stick with the simpler system SD& for this
example, but Ill set up the argument as an explicit in-
ductive argument.

Just in this section, I want to keep the further simplifying

restriction we made about SD&: the only assumptions
that occur in a proof in SD& are the ones gathered right
at the beginning. No more assumptions once the proof
gets started.

The framing of the soundness argument I just gave was

stated in terms of a single truth assignment that makes
all the premises true.

The actual proof involves basically the same idea, but

you are considering , which involves all possible truth-

Instead of thinking of ourselves as saying:

So far I havent been able to derive something false on

this truth assignment W, lets make sure that applying
&E or & I one more time wont get me something false
on W.

We will think of ourselves as saying:

If I havent yet derived something that isnt a truth-

functional consequence of the premises, lets make sure
that applying &E or &I one more time wont get me
something that isnt a truth-functional consequence of
the premises.

OK: Say we are given a set of sentences, and SD& S
using a proof of k lines. We want to show that  S.

Well prove this by induction.

Base clause: Say that k = 1. That is, the derivation is

just one line long.

Then S must be an assumption in , and this is the deriva-


1 S Assumption

Since S it is impossible for all the sentences of to

be true and S false on any truth assignment, so:


That takes care of the base case. It is trivial, as the base

case usually is.

Now for the induction step. Consider k > 0. As the
induction hypothesis, we assume that:

If S is derivable from with a derivation of fewer than

k lines, then  S.

With that assumption we want to show: If If S is deriv-

able from with a derivation of exactly k lines, then

Do you see what we are doing here? The induction hy-

pothesis is a way of saying Lets say we havent derived
anything bad yet.

And the argument sets out to prove:

OK, if I can assume I havent derived anything bad yet

then Ill show that applying the rules just one more time
isnt going to produce anything bad.

We just have to check two cases: on the last line, S can
be justied using & E or S can be justied using &I.

Lets consider the &I case rst. If S is inferred using & I, it

must be of the form S1&S2 for some sentences S1 and S2.

We have this situation:

Sentences from
i S1
... ...
j S2
... ...
k S1&S2 i, j &I

Note that both S1 and S2 are derived from by deriva-
tions with fewer than k lines.

This means that they fall within the scope of the induc-
tion hypothesis, which gives us:

 S1 and  S2.

This is a key step - really the whole point of using

induction is right here:

We had a fact about derivations. (i.e. about )

Now we have a fact about truth-functional consequence

 - i.e. about truth-tables, which we can use to prove
what we are trying to prove.

Now we reason this way: Say we have a truth-assignment
W that makes every sentence in true.

Since  S1 and  S2, W assigns T to S1 and S2.

But by the truth-table for &, (I wont re-draw it here)

if S1 and S2 are assigned T by W then S1&S2 must be
assigned T by W as well.

Since W could be any assignment making every sentence

in true, the fact that W must make S1&S2 true as well
tells us that  S1&S2

That completes the case for &I

So lets consider the other possibility: that line k was

introduced using & E.

Then we have one of these two situations:

Sentences from
i S1&S2
... ...
k S1 i, &E

Sentences from
i S1&S2
... ...
k S2 i, &E

In either case, S1&S2 is derived from by a derivation

with fewer than k lines.

This means that it falls within the scope of the induction
hypothesis, which gives us:


Once again we make the fundamental move: We had a

fact about derivations, and the induction hypothesis al-
lows us to get a fact about truth-functional consequence.

And so once again, the rest is just a matter of checking

the truth table for &: Any truth assignment that makes
S1&S2 true makes S1 true, and makes S2 true.

So every truth-assignment that makes every sentence in

true makes S1 true and makes S2 true.

So:  S1 and  S2

So thats it: Thats the complete soundness proof for
SL&. The full induction proof for SL is more compli-
cated, but the basic structure of the induction is the same.

Why is the proof for the full SL more complicated? First

of all, of course, there are more rules to check.

But also, the rules of & I and & E are particularly sim-
ple as far as this proof is concerned because they dont
require any additional assumptions in the course of the

The rules that do require assumptions - I, I, E,

I and E require a bit more bookkeeping.

3.4. A complication - extra assumptions

Remember too, when I set out to prove soundness for

SL& I made the simplifying restriction that the deriva-
tions had all of their assumptions at the top, with no
further assumptions in the course of the derivation.

In general we cant assume this, so the proof for all of SL

will need a bit more nesse.

Heres an example to illustrate the point.

Say we have a derivation that looks like this - omitting
all but the relevant details.

Sentences from
i S1
.. ..
. .
i1 S1a
.. ..
. .
j S2
.. ..
. .
j1 S2a
k S3

In the earlier examples from SL&, if some sentence S oc-

curred in the derivation, we can say simply that S

We cant say that here. For example, S1a appears at line

i1, but we cannot say that S1a, because we made the
additional assumption of S1 along the way, and S1a is in
its scope.

(Repeating the diagram to be able to refer to it without scrolling back.)

Sentences from
i S1
.. ..
. .
i1 S1a
.. ..
. .
j S2
.. ..
. .
j1 S2a
k S3

That is, the assumptions made in the derivation of S1a

and of S2a are dierent from the assumptions that govern
S3 .

So instead of saying S1a, we need to say {S1}


We have to consider not just the assumptions we started

with, but also the ones we make, and have used, along
the way.

Its important to consider at each line the assump-
tions that are being presupposed at that line - which we
track in the derivation with the horizontal and vertical
lines - not the assumptions that have been made at some
point or other in the derivation.

In the example weve just been looking at, consider S2a.

That depends not just on but also on S2.

On the other hand, it does not depend on S1, even though

that assumption was made on earlier lines, because the
assumption of S1 was then discharged on an earlier line
This is reected by ending the vertical line at line i1
Sentences from
i S1
.. ..
. .
i1 S1a
.. ..
. .
j S2
.. ..
. .
j1 S2a
k S3

In the textbook, they use this terminology to describe this
situation: S2 is an open assumption in whose scope S2a

Returning to our example:

Sentences from
i S1
.. ..
. .
i1 S1a
.. ..
. .
j S2
.. ..
. .
j1 S2a
k S3

In the lines between j and k you cannot refer to any en-

tries on the lines between i and i1.

The book describes this situation this way: these lines

are not available to the lines between j and k, reected
in the fact that the vertical line between i and i1 has been

3.5. Aside: Some Useful Facts

I want to just quickly mention a couple of simplifying

facts that are given on p.245 of the textbook.

The rst of these I used implicitly in the soundness proof

for SL& (this is 6.3.2 in the textbook):

It will be handy to have a name for it; Ill call it Useful

Fact 1:

Useful Fact 1: If  S and then  S.

You can see why Useful Fact 1 is true: if then

any truth-assignment that assigns T to all the sentences
in must also assign T to all the sentences in , which
ensures that S is true.

Or to put it less technically: if S follows from some

premises, it also follows from a bigger set of premises
that contains all the original ones.

Some other handy facts are listed on p. 245 of the text-
book. Ill refer you there to look them up and get the
arguments. They are all straightforward reasoning with
truth-assignments and truth-tables.

Ill note one useful fact in particular for the next part of
the lecture; Ill call it Useful Fact 2:

Useful Fact 2: If {Q}  R then  Q R.

(This is metatheorem 6.3.3 in the book.)

3.6. A Slightly Trickier Case: Conditional Introduction

As I noted, & E and & I are particularly simple rules as

far as the soundness theorem is concerned.

Conditional Introduction is a little trickier, because it in-

volves making an extra assumption.

A note about notation: In the textbook, they write j to

mean the set of undischarged assumptions used to prove
the sentence at line j.

Ill write Si to signify the sentence at line i of the deriva-


Lets carry out the Induction Step as before: we have

inferred a sentence Sk+1 at line k + 1.

Induction Hypothesis: For any derivation of j lines, with

j < k + 1, j  Sj .

But this time, lets say that our system is SD, and that
Sk+1 is inferred from earlier lines by Conditional In-

That will look like this:

i Si A/ I
.. ..
. .
j Sj
k+1 Si Sj (= Sk+1 ) i j, I

j Sj , so by the induction hypothesis, j  Sj .

Since it is acceptable to appeal to lines i j to justify an

inference at line k + 1 that means that j k+1 {Si}.

So by Useful Fact 1, that means k {Si}  Sj .

By another useful fact of the last section, that means that

k  Si Sj (= Sk ), which completes the proof of this

3.7. Negation Introduction

One more example - this one is important for the

problem set because problem # 3 6.3 E page 250 of
the text is very close to this - only minor modications
are required.

Sk+1 is is the (k +1) st line of a derivation, and the induc-

tion hypothesis states that for every earlier line j < k +1,
j  Sj .

Say that Sk+1 is justied by introduction. (In the text-

book, this is case 9, p.248-9)

NB: This version is simpler than the one in the book,
in that I am skipping some steps that involve the idea of
the derivation is accessible at position k. That part
of the textbook proof is just bookkeeping - you need to
make sure that any inference you make only appeals to
assumptions its allowed to appeal to, and you want to
keep track of what the scope of given assumptions are.
Here in lecture I will treat this as obvious from the dia-
gram of the derivation.

I am simplifying in this way because I want to separate

the core idea of the inductive proof from a lot of the de-
tails involving the textbook vocabulary of open assump-
tions and accessibility introduced on page 156 - 57 of the

That is, I am doing things more bluntly than the text-
book does to keep the main idea from being snowed under
with bookkeeping subtleties.

But you should also review the treatment of case 9 page

248-9 of the textbook to see what the proof looks like
when you dot all the is and cross all the ts.

For the problem set, give an answer that is on

the model of the more explicit and rigorous
version in the textbook rather than the looser
treatment of introduction in the next few

Our derivation has this shape:

j P

l R
m R
k + 1 P

As always, k+1 is the set of all undischarged assump-

tions governing line k + 1.

There is a derivation of length l of R from l and from

the lines of the diagram we can see that l k+1 {P}.

There is also a derivation of length m of R from m,

and similarly we can see in the diagram that
m k+1 {P}.

Since l < k + 1 and m < k + 1, we can apply the induc-
tion hypothesis to obtain:

l  R and m  R, so:

k+1 {P}  R and k+1 {P}  R

This follows from the preceding line by Useful Fact 1

plus the facts that l k+1 {P} and m k+1 {P}

Note: the way Ive stated it above is where the ac-

tion is in each case of the inductive proof. The point
is that you have a derivation, and because it is shorter
than k + 1 lines, the induction hypothesis applies, which
allows you to infer a further statement not about deriva-
tions but about Truth-functional entailment - that is,
about truth tables. The rest of the argument is now just
reasoning about truth-tables. End of note, back to

Since k+1 {P}  R and k+1 {P}  R we know
that any truth-assignment making all of k+1 {P} true
makes R true and R true.

This cannot happen, so there is no truth assignment mak-

ing all of k+1 {P} true.

So if a truth assignment makes all of k+1 true, it must

make P false, and so it makes P true.