Set-Theoretic Dependence

John Wigglesworth


In this paper, we explore the idea that sets depend on, or are grounded in, their members.  It is said that a set depends on each of its members, and not vice versa.  Members do not depend on the sets that they belong to.  We show that the intuitive modal truth conditions for dependence, given in terms of possible worlds, do not accurately capture asymmetric dependence relations between sets and their members.  We extend the modal truth conditions to include impossible worlds and give a more satisfactory account of  the dependence of a set on its members. Focusing on the case of singletons, we articulate a logical framework in which to evaluate set-theoretic dependence claims, using a normal first-order modal logic.  We show that on this framework the dependence of a singleton on its single members follows from logic alone. However, the converse does not hold.

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