Logical frameworks - formal systems for the specification and representation of other formal systems - are now a well-established field of research, and the number and variety of logical frameworks is large and growing continuously. In this thesis, I tie several examples of logical frameworks into a single hierarchy.
I begin by introducing an infinite family of new, weak, lambda-free logical frameworks. These systems do not use lambda-abstraction, local definition, or any similar feature; parameterisation, and the instantiation of parameterisation, is taken as basic. These frameworks form conservative extensions of one another; this structure of extension is what I call the modular hierarchy of logical frameworks.
I show how several examples of existing logical frameworks - specifically, the systems PAL and AUT-68 from the AUTOMATH family, the Edinburgh Logical Framework, Martin-Lof's Logical Framework, and Luo's system PAL+ - can be fitted into this hierarchy, in the sense that one of the weak frameworks can be embedded in each as a conservative subsystem. I give several examples of adequacy theorems for object theories in the weak frameworks; these theorems are easier to prove than is usually the case for a logical framework. Adequacy theorems for the systems higher in the hierarchy follow as immediate corollaries.
In the second part of this thesis, I investigate an approach to the design of logical frameworks suggested by the existence of such a hierarchy: that a framework could be built by specifying a set of features, the result of adding any of which to a framework is a conservative extension of the same. I show how all of the weak frameworks from the first part, as well as two of the systems we gave there as examples, can indeed be built in this manner.