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Why Numbers Are Sets

Synthese 133 (3):343-361 (2002)

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  1. Arithmetic, Set Theory, Reduction and Explanation.William D’Alessandro - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):5059-5089.
    Philosophers of science since Nagel have been interested in the links between intertheoretic reduction and explanation, understanding and other forms of epistemic progress. Although intertheoretic reduction is widely agreed to occur in pure mathematics as well as empirical science, the relationship between reduction and explanation in the mathematical setting has rarely been investigated in a similarly serious way. This paper examines an important particular case: the reduction of arithmetic to set theory. I claim that the reduction is unexplanatory. In defense (...)
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  • In Defense of Benacerraf’s Multiple-Reductions Argument.Michele Ginammi - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (2):276-288.
    I discuss Steinhart’s argument against Benacerraf’s famous multiple-reductions argument to the effect that numbers cannot be sets. Steinhart offers a mathematical argument according to which there is only one series of sets to which the natural numbers can be reduced, and thus attacks Benacerraf’s assumption that there are multiple reductions of numbers to sets. I will argue that Steinhart’s argument is problematic and should not be accepted.
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  • Towards a Theory of Singular Thought About Abstract Mathematical Objects.James E. Davies - 2019 - Synthese 196 (10):4113-4136.
    This essay uses a mental files theory of singular thought—a theory saying that singular thought about and reference to a particular object requires possession of a mental store of information taken to be about that object—to explain how we could have such thoughts about abstract mathematical objects. After showing why we should want an explanation of this I argue that none of three main contemporary mental files theories of singular thought—acquaintance theory, semantic instrumentalism, and semantic cognitivism—can give it. I argue (...)
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  • To Continue With Continuity.Martin Cooke - 2005 - Metaphysica 6 (2):91-109.
    The metaphysical concept of continuity is important, not least because physical continua are not known to be impossible. While it is standard to model them with a mathematical continuum based upon set-theoretical intuitions, this essay considers, as a contribution to the debate about the adequacy of those intuitions, the neglected intuition that dividing the length of a line by the length of an individual point should yield the line’s cardinality. The algebraic properties of that cardinal number are derived pre-theoretically from (...)
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  • Multiple Reductions Revisited.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2008 - Philosophia Mathematica 16 (2):244-255.
    Paul Benacerraf's argument from multiple reductions consists of a general argument against realism about the natural numbers (the view that numbers are objects), and a limited argument against reductionism about them (the view that numbers are identical with prima facie distinct entities). There is a widely recognized and severe difficulty with the former argument, but no comparably recognized such difficulty with the latter. Even so, reductionism in mathematics continues to thrive. In this paper I develop a difficulty for Benacerraf's argument (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering for Mathematical Concepts.Fenner Stanley Tanswell - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):881-913.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper I investigate how conceptual engineering applies to mathematical concepts in particular. I begin with a discussion of Waismann’s notion of open texture, and compare it to Shapiro’s modern usage of the term. Next I set out the position taken by Lakatos which sees mathematical concepts as dynamic and open to improvement and development, arguing that Waismann’s open texture applies to mathematical concepts too. With the perspective of mathematics as open-textured, I make the case that this allows us (...)
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  • Arbitrary Reference, Numbers, and Propositions.Michele Palmira - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1069-1085.
    Reductionist realist accounts of certain entities, such as the natural numbers and propositions, have been taken to be fatally undermined by what we may call the problem of arbitrary identification. The problem is that there are multiple and equally adequate reductions of the natural numbers to sets (see Benacerraf, 1965), as well as of propositions to unstructured or structured entities (see, e.g., Bealer, 1998; King, Soames, & Speaks, 2014; Melia, 1992). This paper sets out to solve the problem by canvassing (...)
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  • Non‐Factualism Versus Nominalism.Matteo Plebani - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (3).
    The platonism/nominalism debate in the philosophy of mathematics concerns the question whether numbers and other mathematical objects exist. Platonists believe the answer to be in the positive, nominalists in the negative. According to non-factualists, the question is ‘moot’, in the sense that it lacks a correct answer. Elaborating on ideas from Stephen Yablo, this article articulates a non-factualist position in the philosophy of mathematics and shows how the case for non-factualism entails that standard arguments for rival positions fail. In particular, (...)
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