The role of epistemological models in Veronese's and Bettazzi's theory of magnitudes

In M. D'Agostino, G. Giorello, F. Laudisa, T. Pievani & C. Sinigaglia (eds.), New Essays in Logic and Philosophy of Science. College Publications (2010)
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The philosophy of mathematics has been accused of paying insufficient attention to mathematical practice: one way to cope with the problem, the one we will follow in this paper on extensive magnitudes, is to combine the `history of ideas' and the `philosophy of models' in a logical and epistemological perspective. The history of ideas allows the reconstruction of the theory of extensive magnitudes as a theory of ordered algebraic structures; the philosophy of models allows an investigation into the way epistemology might affect relevant mathematical notions. The article takes two historical examples as a starting point for the investigation of the role of numerical models in the construction of a system of non-Archimedean magnitudes. A brief exposition of the theories developed by Giuseppe Veronese and by Rodolfo Bettazzi at the end of the 19th century will throw new light on the role played by magnitudes and numbers in the development of the concept of a non-Archimedean order. Different ways of introducing non-Archimedean models will be compared and the influence of epistemological models will be evaluated. Particular attention will be devoted to the comparison between the models that oriented Veronese's and Bettazzi's works and the mathematical theories they developed, but also to the analysis of the way epistemological beliefs affected the concepts of continuity and measurement.

Author's Profile

Paola Cantù
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


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