March 15
Thomas Ferguson, University of Amsterdam and University of St. Andrews
Models of Relevant Arithmetic

In the 1970s, the logician and philosopher Robert Meyer proposed a novel response to Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems, suggesting that perhaps the results' impact could be blunted by analyzing Peano arithmetic with a weaker deductive system. Initial successes of the program of relevant arithmetic were positive. E.g., R# (the theory of Peano arithmetic under the relevant logic R) can be shown consistent in the sense of not proving 0=1 and this can be shown through arguably finitistic methods. In this talk I will discuss the rise and fall of Meyer's program, detailing the philosophical foundations, its positive development, and the context of Harvey Friedman's negative result in 1992. I'll also suggest why the program, although not necessarily successful, is nevertheless an interesting object of study.

Also note that a great deal of context—including Meyer's two long-unpublished monographs on the topic—have recently appeared in a special issue of the Australasian Journal of Logic I co-edited with Graham Priest, which can be found at