A Theory of Implicit Commitment for Mathematical Theories


The notion of implicit commitment has played a prominent role in recent works in logic and philosophy of mathematics. Although implicit commitment is often associated with highly technical studies, it remains so far an elusive notion. In particular, it is often claimed that the acceptance of a mathematical theory implicitly commits one to the acceptance of a Uniform Reflection Principle for it. However, philosophers agree that a satisfactory analysis of the transition from a theory to its reflection principle is still lacking. We provide an axiomatization of the minimal commitments implicit in the acceptance of a mathematical theory. The theory entails that the Uniform Reflection Principle is part of one's implicit commitments, and sheds light on the reason why this is so. We argue that the theory has interesting epistemological consequences in that it explains how justified belief in the axioms of a theory can be preserved to the corresponding reflection principle. The theory also improves on recent proposals for the analysis of implicit commitment based on truth or epistemic notions.

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