Relations Versus Functions at the Foundations of Logic: Type-Theoretic Considerations


Paul E. Oppenheimer and Edward N. Zalta


Journal of Logic and Computation, 21 (2011): 351–374.


Though Frege was interested primarily in reducing mathematics to logic, he succeeded in reducing an important part of logic to mathematics by defining relations in terms of functions. By contrast, Whitehead & Russell reduced an important part of mathematics to logic by defining functions in terms of relations (using the definite description operator). We argue that there is a reason to prefer Whitehead & Russell's reduction of functions to relations over Frege's reduction of relations to functions. There is an interesting system having a logic that can be properly characterized in relational but not in functional type theory. This shows that relational type theory is more general than functional type theory. The simplification offered by Church in his functional type theory is an over-simplification: one can't assimilate predication to functional application.

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