The Axiom of Reducibility


  • Russell Wahl Idaho State University



The axiom of reducibility plays an important role in the logic of Principia Mathematica, but has generally been condemned as an ad hoc non-logical axiom which was added simply because the ramified type theory without it would not yield all the required theorems. In this paper I examine the status of the axiom of reducibility. Whether the axiom can plausibly be included as a logical axiom will depend in no small part on the understanding of propositional functions. If we understand propositional functions as constructions of the mind, it is clear that the axiom is clearly not a logical axiom and in fact makes an implausible claim. I look at two other ways of understanding propositional functions, a nominalist interpretation along the lines of Landini and a realist interpretation along the lines of Linsky and Mares. I argue that while on either of these interpretations it is not easy to see the axiom as a non-logical claim about the world, there are also appear to be difficulties in accepting it as a purely logical axiom.