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A Modal-Semantic Approach to Theories and Surplus Structure
Image representation of a theory defined as a class of models, highlighting its complex internal structure.
Class of 2022

Frank Wotton (Frankie) is a part of the class of 2022 at SLU. He is working on a double major in mathematics and philosophy, and has particular interests in the intersection of the traditional Anglo-American analytic tradition and traditions unique to other parts of the world such as the European continent and North America. With its roots in pragmatism and its sustained logical rigor, his summer project reflects these interests.


The Syntactic View, the Semantic View, and the Pragmatic View, three historically prevailing approaches to the structure of scientific theory, each had crucial successes and failures. This paper outlines each of those views, addresses those successes and failures, and suggests a way to synthesize the useful formal rigor of semantic approaches with the practical concerns of pragmatic approaches. This is done through a recharacterization of the notion of surplus structure in the Semantic View. The end result is a scheme for formalizing important pragmatic structures of theory.