Journal of Symbolic Logic

Sequent-Systems for Modal Logic

Kosta Dosen

Full-text is available via JSTOR, for JSTOR subscribers. Go to this article in JSTOR.


The purpose of this work is to present Gentzen-style formulations of $S5$ and $S4$ based on sequents of higher levels. Sequents of level 1 are like ordinary sequents, sequents of level 1 have collections of sequents of level 1 on the left and right of the turnstile, etc. Rules for modal constants involve sequents of level 2, whereas rules for customary logical constants of first-order logic with identity involve only sequents of level 1. A restriction on Thinning on the right of level 2, which when applied to Thinning on the right of level 1 produces intuitionistic out of classical logic (without changing anything else), produces $S4$ out of $S5$ (without changing anything else). This characterization of modal constants with sequents of level 2 is unique in the following sense. If constants which differ only graphically are given a formally identical characterization, they can be shown inter-replaceable (not only uniformly) with the original constants salva provability. Customary characterizations of modal constants with sequents of level 1, as well as characterizations in Hilbert-style axiomatizations, are not unique in this sense. This parallels the case with implication, which is not uniquely characterized in Hilbert-style axiomatizations, but can be uniquely characterized with sequents of level 1. These results bear upon theories of philosophical logic which attempt to characterize logical constants syntactically. They also provide an illustration of how alternative logics differ only in their structural rules, whereas their rules for logical constants are identical.

Article information

J. Symbolic Logic, Volume 50, Issue 1 (1985), 149-168.

First available in Project Euclid: 6 July 2007

Permanent link to this document

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier



Dosen, Kosta. Sequent-Systems for Modal Logic. J. Symbolic Logic 50 (1985), no. 1, 149--168.

Export citation