The Journal of Symbolic Logic

Research Article

operators and alternating sentences in arithmetic

Larry Manevitza1 and Jonathan Stavia1 1

a1 Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Determining the truth value of self-referential sentences is an interesting and often tricky problem. The Gödel sentence, asserting its own unprovability in P (Peano arithmetic), is clearly true in N(the standard model of P ), and Löb showed that a sentence asserting its own provability in P is also true in N (see Smorynski [Sm, 4.1.1]). The problem is more difficult, and still unsolved, for sentences of the kind constructed by Kreisel [K1], which assert their own falsity in some model N* of P whose complete diagram is arithmetically defined. Such a sentence χ has the property that N ⊨ iff N* ⊭ χ (note that ¬χ has the same property).

We show in §1 that the truth value in N of such a sentence χ, after a certain normalization that breaks the symmetry between it and its negation, is determined by the parity of a natural number, called the rank of N, for the particular construction of N* used. The rank is the number of times the construction can be iterated starting from N and is finite for all the usual constructions. We also show that modifications of, e.g., Henkin's construction (in his completeness proof of predicate calculus) allow arbitrary finite values for the rank of N. Thus, on the one hand the truth value of χ in N, for a given “nice” construction of N*, is independent of the particular (normalized) choice of χ, and we shall see that χ is unique up to (provable) equivalence in P . On the other hand, the truth value in question is sensitive to minor changes in the definition of N* and its determination seems to be largely a combinatorial problem.

(Received February 09 1978)


1   Work on the revised version was supported by the Israel Commission for Basic Research. The original version was written while the first author was a post-doctoral fellow in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.