The structure of models of second-order set theories

by kamerynwilliams

This is my PhD dissertation.

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Abstract. This dissertation is a contribution to the project of second-order set theory, which has seen a revival in recent years. The approach is to understand second-order set theory by studying the structure of models of second-order set theories. The main results are the following, organized by chapter. First, I investigate the poset of T-realizations of a fixed countable model of ZFC, where T is a reasonable second-order set theory such as GBC or KM, showing that it has a rich structure. In particular, every countable partial order embeds into this structure. Moreover, we can arrange so that these embedding preserve the existence/nonexistence of upper bounds, at least for finite partial orders. Second I generalize some constructions of Marek and Mostowski from KM to weaker theories. They showed that every model of KM plus the Class Collection schema “unrolls” to a model of ZFC with a largest cardinal. I calculate the theories of the unrolling for a variety of second-order set theories, going as weak as GBC + ETR. I also show that being T-realizable goes down to submodels for a broad selection of second-order set theories T. Third, I show that there is a hierarchy of transfinite recursion principles ranging in strength from GBC to KM. This hierarchy is ordered first by the complexity of the properties allowed in the recursions and second by the allowed heights of the recursions. Fourth, I investigate the question of which second-order set theories have least models. I show that strong theories—such as KM or \Pi^1_1-CA—do not have least transitive models, while weaker theories—from GBC to GBC + ETROrd—do have least transitive models.



author = {Kameryn J Williams},
title = {The structure of models of second-order set theories},
school = {The Graduate Center, The City University of New York},
year = {2018},
eprint = {1804.09526},
archivePrefix ={arXiv},
primaryClass = {math.LO},
url = {},