The concept of ‘ideas’ plays central role in philosophy. The genesis of the idea of continuity and its essential role in intellectual history have been analyzed in this research. The main question of this research is how the idea of continuity came to the human cognitive system. In this context, we analyzed the epistemological function of this idea. In intellectual history, the idea of continuity was first introduced by Leibniz. After him, this idea, as a paradigm, formed (...) the base of several fundamental scientific conceptions. This idea also allowed mathematicians to justify the nature of real numbers, which was one of central questions and intellectual discussions in the history of mathematics. For this reason, we analyzed how Dedekind’s continuity idea was used to this justification. As a result, it can be said that several fundamental conceptions in intellectual history, philosophy and mathematics cannot arise without existence of the idea of continuity. However, this idea is neither a purely philosophical nor a mathematical idea. This is an interdisciplinary concept. For this reason, we call and classify it as mathematical and philosophical invariance. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the relation between Henri Poincaré’s definition of mathematicalcontinuity and Sartre’s discussion of temporality in Being and Nothingness. Poincaré states that a series A, B, and C is continuous when A=B, B=C and A is less than C. I explicate Poincaré’s definition and examine the arguments that he uses to arrive at this definition. I argue that Poincaré’s definition is applicable to temporal series, and I show that this definition of continuity provides (...) a logical basis for Sartre’s psychological explanation of temporality. Specifically, I demonstrate that Poincaré’s definition allows the for-itself to be understood both as connected to a past and future and as distinct from itself. I conclude that the gap between two terms in a temporal series comprises the present and being-for-itself, since it is this gap that occasions the radical freedom to reshape the past into a distinct and different future. (shrink)
A strongly independent preorder on a possibly in finite dimensional convex set that satisfi es two of the following conditions must satisfy the third: (i) the Archimedean continuity condition; (ii) mixture continuity; and (iii) comparability under the preorder is an equivalence relation. In addition, if the preorder is nontrivial (has nonempty asymmetric part) and satisfi es two of the following conditions, it must satisfy the third: (i') a modest strengthening of the Archimedean condition; (ii') mixture continuity; and (...) (iii') completeness. Applications to decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty are provided. (shrink)
We seek to elucidate the philosophical context in which one of the most important conceptual transformations of modern mathematics took place, namely the so-called revolution in rigor in infinitesimal calculus and mathematical analysis. Some of the protagonists of the said revolution were Cauchy, Cantor, Dedekind,and Weierstrass. The dominant current of philosophy in Germany at the time was neo-Kantianism. Among its various currents, the Marburg school (Cohen, Natorp, Cassirer, and others) was the one most interested in matters scientific and (...) class='Hi'>mathematical. Our main thesis is that Marburg neo-Kantian philosophy formulated a sophisticated position towards the problems raised by the concepts of limits and infinitesimals. The Marburg school neither clung to the traditional approach of logically and metaphysically dubious infinitesimals, nor whiggishly subscribed to the new orthodoxy of the “great triumvirate” of Cantor, Dedekind, and Weierstrass that declared infinitesimals conceptus nongrati in mathematical discourse. Rather, following Cohen’s lead, the Marburg philosophers sought to clarify Leibniz’s principle of continuity, and to exploit it in making sense of infinitesimals and related concepts. (shrink)
Iterability, the repetition which alters the idealization it reproduces, is the engine of deconstructive movement. The fact that all experience is transformative-dissimulative in its essence does not, however, mean that the momentum of change is the same for all situations. Derrida adapts Husserl's distinction between a bound and a free ideality to draw up a contrast between mechanical mathematical calculation, whose in-principle infinite enumerability is supposedly meaningless, empty of content, and therefore not in itself subject to alteration through contextual (...) change, and idealities such as spoken or written language which are directly animated by a meaning-to-say and are thus immediately affected by context. Derrida associates the dangers of cultural stagnation, paralysis and irresponsibility with the emptiness of programmatic, mechanical, formulaic thinking. This paper endeavors to show that enumerative calculation is not context-independent in itself but is instead immediately infused with alteration, thereby making incoherent Derrida's claim to distinguish between a free and bound ideality. Along with the presumed formal basis of numeric infinitization, Derrida's non-dialectical distinction between forms of mechanical or programmatic thinking (the Same) and truly inventive experience (the absolute Other) loses its justification. In the place of a distinction between bound and free idealities is proposed a distinction between two poles of novelty; the first form of novel experience would be characterized by affectivites of unintelligibility , confusion and vacuity, and the second by affectivities of anticipatory continuity and intimacy. (shrink)
Brentano’s theory of continuity is based on his account of boundaries. The core idea of the theory is that boundaries and coincidences thereof belong to the essence of continua. Brentano is confident that he developed a full-fledged, boundary-based, theory of continuity1; and scholars often concur: whether or not they accept Brentano’s take on continua they consider it a clear contender. My impression, on the contrary, is that, although it is infused with invaluable insights, several aspects of Brentano’s account of (...)continuity remain inchoate. To be clear, the theory of boundaries on which it relies, as well as the account of ontological dependence that Brentano develops alongside his theory of boundaries, constitute splendid achievements. However, the passage from the theory of boundaries to the account of continuity is rather sketchy. This paper pinpoints some chief problems raised by this transition, and proposes some solutions to them which, if not always faithful to the letter of Brentano’s account of continua, are I believe faithful to its spirit. §1 presents Brentano’s critique of the mathematical account of the continuous. §2 introduces Brentano’s positive account of continua. §3 raises three worries about Brentano’s account of continuity. §4 proposes a Neo-Brentanian approach to continua that handles these worries. (shrink)
This chapter tries to answer the following question: How should we conceive of the method of mathematics, if we take a naturalist stance? The problem arises since mathematical knowledge is regarded as the paradigm of certain knowledge, because mathematics is based on the axiomatic method. Moreover, natural science is deeply mathematized, and science is crucial for any naturalist perspective. But mathematics seems to provide a counterexample both to methodological and ontological naturalism. To face this problem, some authors tried to (...) naturalize mathematics by relying on evolutionism. But several difficulties arise when we try to do this. This chapter suggests that, in order to naturalize mathematics, it is better to take the method of mathematics to be the analytic method, rather than the axiomatic method, and thus conceive of mathematical knowledge as plausible knowledge. (shrink)
A basic thesis of Neokantian epistemology and philosophy of science contends that the knowing subject and the object to be known are only abstractions. What really exists, is the relation between both. For the elucidation of this “knowledge relation ("Erkenntnisrelation") the Neokantians of the Marburg school used a variety of mathematical metaphors. In this con-tribution I reconsider some of these metaphors proposed by Paul Natorp, who was one of the leading members of the Marburg school. It is shown that (...) Natorp's metaphors are not unrelated to those used in some currents of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Accuracy arguments for the core tenets of Bayesian epistemology differ mainly in the conditions they place on the legitimate ways of measuring the inaccuracy of our credences. The best existing arguments rely on three conditions: Continuity, Additivity, and Strict Propriety. In this paper, I show how to strengthen the arguments based on these conditions by showing that the central mathematical theorem on which each depends goes through without assuming Additivity.
In this paper, I propose that applying the methods of data science to “the problem of whether mathematical explanations occur within mathematics itself” (Mancosu 2018) might be a fruitful way to shed new light on the problem. By carefully selecting indicator words for explanation and justification, and then systematically searching for these indicators in databases of scholarly works in mathematics, we can get an idea of how mathematicians use these terms in mathematical practice and with what frequency. The (...) results of this empirical study suggest that mathematical explanations do occur in research articles published in mathematics journals, as indicated by the occurrence of explanation indicators. When compared with the use of justification indicators, however, the data suggest that justifications occur much more frequently than explanations in scholarly mathematical practice. The results also suggest that justificatory proofs occur much more frequently than explanatory proofs, thus suggesting that proof may be playing a larger justificatory role than an explanatory role in scholarly mathematical practice. (shrink)
This paper considers questions about continuity and discontinuity between life and mind. It begins by examining such questions from the perspective of the free energy principle (FEP). The FEP is becoming increasingly influential in neuroscience and cognitive science. It says that organisms act to maintain themselves in their expected biological and cognitive states, and that they can do so only by minimizing their free energy given that the long-term average of free energy is entropy. The paper then argues that (...) there is no singular interpretation of the FEP for thinking about the relation between life and mind. Some FEP formulations express what we call an independence view of life and mind. One independence view is a cognitivist view of the FEP. It turns on information processing with semantic content, thus restricting the range of systems capable of exhibiting mentality. Other independence views exemplify what we call an overly generous non-cognitivist view of the FEP, and these appear to go in the opposite direction. That is, they imply that mentality is nearly everywhere. The paper proceeds to argue that non-cognitivist FEP, and its implications for thinking about the relation between life and mind, can be usefully constrained by key ideas in recent enactive approaches to cognitive science. We conclude that the most compelling account of the relationship between life and mind treats them as strongly continuous, and that this continuity is based on particular concepts of life (autopoiesis and adaptivity) and mind (basic and non-semantic). (shrink)
In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is (...) remediable in each case by appeal to ontic facts that account for why the explanation is acceptable in one direction and unacceptable in the other direction. The mathematics involved in these examples cannot play this crucial normative role. While Lange's examples fail to demonstrate the existence of distinctively mathematical explanations, they help to emphasize that many superficially natural scientific explanations rely for their explanatory force on relations of stronger-than-natural necessity. These are not opposing kinds of scientific explanations; they are different aspects of scientific explanation. (shrink)
Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extended mind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical operations to the external environment. In this view, mathematical symbols (...) are not only used to express mathematical concepts—they are constitutive of the mathematical concepts themselves. Mathematical symbols are epistemic actions, because they enable us to represent concepts that are literally unthinkable with our bare brains. Using case-studies from the history of mathematics and from educational psychology, we argue for an intimate relationship between mathematical symbols and mathematical cognition. (shrink)
The existence of fundamental moral disagreements is a central problem for moral realism and has often been contrasted with an alleged absence of disagreement in mathematics. However, mathematicians do in fact disagree on fundamental questions, for example on which set-theoretic axioms are true, and some philosophers have argued that this increases the plausibility of moral vis-à-vis mathematical realism. I argue that the analogy between mathematical and moral disagreement is not as straightforward as those arguments present it. In particular, (...) I argue that pluralist accounts of mathematics render fundamental mathematical disagreements compatible with mathematical realism in a way in which moral disagreements and moral realism are not. 11. (shrink)
A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the (...) Lotka-Volterra equations. There are at least two distinct ways those equations might hold of a system, one of which yields straightforwardly causal explanations, but the other of which yields explanations that are distinctively mathematical in terms of nomological strength. In the first, one first picks out a system or class of systems, finds that the equations hold in a causal -explanatory way; in the second, one starts with the equations and explanations that must apply to any system of which the equations hold, and only then turns to the world to see of what, if any, systems it does in fact hold. Using this new way in which a model might hold of a system, I highlight four specific avenues by which causal and non- causal explanations can complement one another. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that constructivism in mathematics faces a dilemma. In particular, I maintain that constructivism is unable to explain (i) the application of mathematics to nature and (ii) the intersubjectivity of mathematics unless (iii) it is conjoined with two theses that reduce it to a form of mathematical Platonism. The paper is divided into five sections. In the first section of the paper, I explain the difference between mathematical constructivism and mathematical Platonism and I (...) outline my argument. In the second, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics applies to nature for a constructivist is a thesis I call Copernicanism. In the third, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics can be intersubjective for a constructivist is a thesis I call Ideality. In the fourth, I argue that once constructivism is conjoined with these two theses, it collapses into a form of mathematical Platonism. In the fifth, I confront some objections. (shrink)
Lange argues that some natural phenomena can be explained by appeal to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In these “distinctively mathematical” explanations, the core explanatory facts are either modally stronger than facts about ordinary causal law or understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue. Craver and Povich argue that Lange’s account of DME fails to exclude certain “reversals”. Lange has replied that his account can avoid these directionality charges. Specifically, Lange argues that in (...) legitimate DMEs, but not in their “reversals,” the empirical fact appealed to in the explanation is “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue” in the explanandum. I argue that Lange’s reply is unsatisfactory because it leaves the crucial notion of being “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement” obscure in ways that fail to block “reversals” except by an apparent ad hoc stipulation or by abandoning the reliance on understanding and instead accepting a strong realism about essence. (shrink)
K. Marx’s 200th jubilee coincides with the celebration of the 85 years from the first publication of his “Mathematical Manuscripts” in 1933. Its editor, Sofia Alexandrovna Yanovskaya (1896–1966), was a renowned Soviet mathematician, whose significant studies on the foundations of mathematics and mathematical logic, as well as on the history and philosophy of mathematics are unduly neglected nowadays. Yanovskaya, as a militant Marxist, was actively engaged in the ideological confrontation with idealism and its influence on modern mathematics and (...) their interpretation. Concomitantly, she was one of the pioneers of mathematical logic in the Soviet Union, in an era of fierce disputes on its compatibility with Marxist philosophy. Yanovskaya managed to embrace in an originally Marxist spirit the contemporary level of logico-philosophical research of her time. Due to her highly esteemed status within Soviet academia, she became one of the most significant pillars for the culmination of modern mathematics in the Soviet Union. In this paper, I attempt to trace the influence of the complex socio-cultural context of the first decades of the Soviet Union on Yanovskaya’s work. Among the several issues I discuss, her encounter with L. Wittgenstein is striking. (shrink)
Humans and other animals have an evolved ability to detect discrete magnitudes in their environment. Does this observation support evolutionary debunking arguments against mathematical realism, as has been recently argued by Clarke-Doane, or does it bolster mathematical realism, as authors such as Joyce and Sinnott-Armstrong have assumed? To find out, we need to pay closer attention to the features of evolved numerical cognition. I provide a detailed examination of the functional properties of evolved numerical cognition, and propose that (...) they prima facie favor a realist account of numbers. (shrink)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that standard psychological continuity theory does not account for an important feature of what is important in survival – having the property of personhood. I offer a theory that can account for this, and I explain how it avoids two other implausible consequences of standard psychological continuity theory, as well as having certain other advantages over that theory.
In this paper I intend to present the Dilemma of Continuity of Matter and a possible solution to it. This dilemma consists in choosing between two misfortunes in explaining the continuity of matter: or to say that material objects are infinitely divisible and not explain what constitutes the continuity of some kind of object, or to say that there is a certain kind of indivisible object and not explain what constitutes the continuity of such an object. (...) The solution we provide is precisely the thesis that material objects consists of points, a thesis we try to make clearer, although we have not developed it much. (shrink)
In their recent paper on “Challenges in mathematical cognition”, Alcock and colleagues (Alcock et al. [2016]. Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 2, 20-41) defined a research agenda through 26 specific research questions. An important dimension of mathematical cognition almost completely absent from their discussion is the cultural constitution of mathematical cognition. Spanning work from a broad range of disciplines – including anthropology, archaeology, cognitive science, history of science, linguistics, philosophy, (...) and psychology – we argue that for any research agenda on mathematical cognition the cultural dimension is indispensable, and we propose a set of exemplary research questions related to it. (shrink)
An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of (...) DME, the Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account (NOCA), that can satisfy all three desiderata. NOCA appeals to ontic considerations to account for explanatory asymmetry and ground the relevant counterfactuals. NOCA provides a unification of the causal and the non-causal, the ontic and the modal, by identifying a common core that all explanations share and in virtue of which they are explanatory. (shrink)
We present an elementary system of axioms for the geometry of Minkowski spacetime. It strikes a balance between a simple and streamlined set of axioms and the attempt to give a direct formalization in first-order logic of the standard account of Minkowski spacetime in [Maudlin 2012] and [Malament, unpublished]. It is intended for future use in the formalization of physical theories in Minkowski spacetime. The choice of primitives is in the spirit of [Tarski 1959]: a predicate of betwenness and a (...) four place predicate to compare the square of the relativistic intervals. Minkowski spacetime is described as a four dimensional ‘vector space’ that can be decomposed everywhere into a spacelike hyperplane - which obeys the Euclidean axioms in [Tarski and Givant, 1999] - and an orthogonal timelike line. The length of other ‘vectors’ are calculated according to Pythagora’s theorem. We conclude with a Representation Theorem relating models of our system that satisfy second order continuity to the mathematical structure called ‘Minkowski spacetime’ in physics textbooks. (shrink)
Indispensablists argue that when our belief system conflicts with our experiences, we can negate a mathematical belief but we do not because if we do, we would have to make an excessive revision of our belief system. Thus, we retain a mathematical belief not because we have good evidence for it but because it is convenient to do so. I call this view ‘ mathematical convenientism.’ I argue that mathematical convenientism commits the consequential fallacy and that (...) it demolishes the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument and Baker’s enhanced indispensability argument. (shrink)
What can we infer from numerical cognition about mathematical realism? In this paper, I will consider one aspect of numerical cognition that has received little attention in the literature: the remarkable similarities of numerical cognitive capacities across many animal species. This Invariantism in Numerical Cognition (INC) indicates that mathematics and morality are disanalogous in an important respect: proto-moral beliefs differ substantially between animal species, whereas proto-mathematical beliefs (at least in the animals studied) seem to show more similarities. This (...) makes moral beliefs more susceptible to a contingency challenge from evolution compared to mathematical beliefs, and indicates that mathematical beliefs might be less vulnerable to evolutionary debunking arguments. I will then examine to what extent INC can be used to flesh out a positive case for mathematical realism. Finally, I will review two forms of mathematical realism that are promising in the light of the evolutionary evidence about numerical cognition, ante rem structuralism and Millean empiricism. (shrink)
Mathematical realism asserts that mathematical objects exist in the abstract world, and that a mathematical sentence is true or false, depending on whether the abstract world is as the mathematical sentence says it is. I raise two objections against mathematical realism. First, the abstract world is queer in that it allows for contradictory states of affairs. Second, mathematical realism does not have a theoretical resource to explain why a sentence about a tricle is true (...) or false. A tricle is an object that changes its shape from a triangle to a circle, and then back to a triangle with every second. (shrink)
I defend a new position in philosophy of mathematics that I call mathematical inferentialism. It holds that a mathematical sentence can perform the function of facilitating deductive inferences from some concrete sentences to other concrete sentences, that a mathematical sentence is true if and only if all of its concrete consequences are true, that the abstract world does not exist, and that we acquire mathematical knowledge by confirming concrete sentences. Mathematical inferentialism has several advantages over (...)mathematical realism and fictionalism. (shrink)
The traditional view of evidence in mathematics is that evidence is just proof and proof is just derivation. There are good reasons for thinking that this view should be rejected: it misrepresents both historical and current mathematical practice. Nonetheless, evidence, proof, and derivation are closely intertwined. This paper seeks to tease these concepts apart. It emphasizes the role of argumentation as a context shared by evidence, proofs, and derivations. The utility of argumentation theory, in general, and argumentation schemes, in (...) particular, as a methodology for the study of mathematical practice is thereby demonstrated. Argumentation schemes represent an almost untapped resource for mathematics education. Notably, they provide a consistent treatment of rigorous and non-rigorous argumentation, thereby working to exhibit the continuity of reasoning in mathematics with reasoning in other areas. Moreover, since argumentation schemes are a comparatively mature methodology, there is a substantial body of existing work to draw upon, including some increasingly sophisticated software tools. Such tools have significant potential for the analysis and evaluation of mathematical argumentation. The first four sections of the paper address the relationships of evidence to proof, proof to derivation, argument to proof, and argument to evidence, respectively. The final section directly addresses some of the educational implications of an argumentation scheme account of mathematical reasoning. (shrink)
Marya Schechtman has raised a series of worries for the Psychological Continuity Theory of personal identity (PCT) stemming out of what Derek Parfit called the ‘Extreme Claim’. This is roughly the claim that theories like it are unable to explain the importance we attach to personal identity. In her recent Staying Alive (2014), she presents further arguments related to this and sets out a new narrative theory, the Person Life View (PLV), which she sees as solving the problems as (...) well as bringing other advantages over the PCT. I look over some of her earlier arguments and responses to them as a way in to the new issues and theory. I argue that the problems for the PCT and advantages that the PLV brings are all merely apparent, and present no reason for giving up the former for the latter. (shrink)
Callard (2007) argues that it is metaphysically possible that a mathematical object, although abstract, causally affects the brain. I raise the following objections. First, a successful defence of mathematical realism requires not merely the metaphysical possibility but rather the actuality that a mathematical object affects the brain. Second, mathematical realists need to confront a set of three pertinent issues: why a mathematical object does not affect other concrete objects and other mathematical objects, what counts (...) as a mathematical object, and how we can have knowledge about an unchanging object. (shrink)
Abstract: Those who endorse the Psychological Continuity Approach (PCA) to analyzing personal identity need to impose a non-branching constraint to get the intuitively correct result that in the case of fission, one person becomes two. With the help of Brueckner's (2005) discussion, it is shown here that the sort of non-branching clause that allows proponents of PCA to provide sufficient conditions for being the same person actually runs contrary to the very spirit of their theory. The problem is first (...) presented in connection with perdurantist versions of PCA. The difficulty is then shown to apply to endurantist versions as well. -/- . (shrink)
An analysis of the counter-intuitive properties of infinity as understood differently in mathematics, classical physics and quantum physics allows the consideration of various paradoxes under a new light (e.g. Zeno’s dichotomy, Torricelli’s trumpet, and the weirdness of quantum physics). It provides strong support for the reality of abstractness and mathematical Platonism, and a plausible reason why there is something rather than nothing in the concrete universe. The conclusions are far reaching for science and philosophy.
A new trend in the philosophical literature on scientific explanation is that of starting from a case that has been somehow identified as an explanation and then proceed to bringing to light its characteristic features and to constructing an account for the type of explanation it exemplifies. A type of this approach to thinking about explanation – the piecemeal approach, as I will call it – is used, among others, by Lange (2013) and Pincock (2015) in the context of their (...) treatment of the problem of mathematical explanations of physical phenomena. This problem is of central importance in two different recent philosophical disputes: the dispute about the existence on non-causal scientific explanations and the dispute between realists and antirealists in the philosophy of mathematics. My aim in this paper is twofold. I will first argue that Lange (2013) and Pincock (2015) fail to make a significant contribution to these disputes. They fail to contribute to the dispute in the philosophy of mathematics because, in this context, their approach can be seen as question begging. They also fail to contribute to the dispute in the general philosophy of science because, as I will argue, there are important problems with the cases discussed by Lange and Pincock. I will then argue that the source of the problems with these two papers has to do with the fact that the piecemeal approach used to account for mathematical explanation is problematic. (shrink)
Since his Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft was first published in 1786, controversy has surrounded Immanuel Kant’s conception of matter. In particular, the justification for both his dynamical theory of matter and the related dismissal of mechanical philosophy are obscure. In this paper, I address these longstanding issues and establish that Kant’s dynamism rests upon Leibnizian, metaphysical commitments held by Kant from his early pre-Critical texts on natural philosophy to his major critical works. I demonstrate that, throughout his corpus and inspired (...) by Leibniz, Kant endorses the a priori law of continuity of alteration as a truth of metaphysics, according to which all alterations in experience must occur gradually through all intervening degrees. The principle thus legislates against mechanical philosophy’s absolutely impenetrable atoms, as they would would involve instantaneous changes of velocity in impact. This reveals the metaphysical incoherencies in mechanical philosophy and leaves Kant’s own dynamical theory of matter, grounded on material forces, as the only viable approach to physical explanation. Subsequently, I demonstrate that Kant nevertheless made conceptual space in his system for the theoretical consideration of mechanical explanations, which makes manifest one of the positive roles that the faculty of reason can play with respect to natural science. (shrink)
The view that an account of personal identity can be provided in terms of psychological continuity has come under fire from an interesting new angle in recent years. Critics from a variety of rival positions have argued that it cannot adequately explain what makes psychological states co-personal (i.e. the states of a single person). The suggestion is that there will inevitably be examples of states that it wrongly ascribes using only the causal connections available to it. In this paper, (...) I describe three distinct attacks on the psychological continuity theory along these lines. While I acknowledge that a number of interesting issues arise, I argue that the theory can withstand all three attacks. (shrink)
Indispensablists contend that accepting scientific realism while rejecting mathematical realism involves a double standard. I refute this contention by developing an enhanced version of scientific realism, which I call interactive realism. It holds that interactively successful theories are typically approximately true, and that the interactive unobservable entities posited by them are likely to exist. It is immune to the pessimistic induction while mathematical realism is susceptible to it.
A way to argue that something plays an explanatory role in science is by linking explanatory relevance with importance in the context of an explanation. The idea is deceptively simple: a part of an explanation is an explanatorily relevant part of that explanation if removing it affects the explanation either by destroying it or by diminishing its explanatory power, i.e. an important part is an explanatorily relevant part. This can be very useful in many ontological debates. My aim in this (...) paper is twofold. First of all, I will try to assess how this view on explanatory relevance can affect the recent ontological debate in the philosophy of mathematics—as I will argue, contrary to how it may appear at first glance, it does not help very much the mathematical realists. Second of all, I will show that there are big problems with it. (shrink)
Do multi-level selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by single-level explanations? Central to the former is a mathematical theorem, the multi-level Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such non-empirical decompositions in scientific practice. Applying this general framework to the present case places two tasks on the agenda. The first task is to distinguish the various ways of suppressing within-collective variation in fitness, and moreover to evaluate (...) their biological interest. I distinguish four such ways: increasing retaliatory capacity, homogenising assortment, and collapsing either fitness structure or character distribution to a mean value. The second task is to discover whether the third term of the Price decomposition measures the effect of any of these hypothetical interventions. On this basis I argue that the multi-level Price decomposition has explanatory value primarily when the sharing-out of collective resources is `subtractable'. Thus its value is more circumscribed than its champions Sober and Wilson (1998) suppose. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to describe and analyze the epistemological justification of a proposal initially made by the biomathematician Robert Rosen in 1958. In this theoretical proposal, Rosen suggests using the mathematical concept of “category” and the correlative concept of “natural equivalence” in mathematical modeling applied to living beings. Our questions are the following: According to Rosen, to what extent does the mathematical notion of category give access to more “natural” formalisms in the modeling of (...) living beings? Is the so -called “naturalness” of some kinds of equivalences (which the mathematical notion of category makes it possible to generalize and to put at the forefront) analogous to the naturalness of living systems? Rosen appears to answer “yes” and to ground this transfer of the concept of “natural equivalence” in biology on such an analogy. But this hypothesis, although fertile, remains debatable. Finally, this paper makes a brief account of the later evolution of Rosen’s arguments about this topic. In particular, it sheds light on the new role played by the notion of “category” in his more recent objections to the computational models that have pervaded almost every domain of biology since the 1990s. (shrink)
Explications of the reconstruction of Leibniz’s metaphysics that Deleuze undertakes in 'The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque' focus predominantly on the role of the infinitesimal calculus developed by Leibniz.1 While not underestimat- ing the importance of the infinitesimal calculus and the law of continuity as reflected in the calculus of infinite series to any understanding of Leibniz’s metaphysics and to Deleuze’s reconstruction of it in The Fold, what I propose to examine in this paper is the role played by (...) other developments in mathematics that Deleuze draws upon, including those made by a number of Leibniz’s near contemporaries – the projective geometry that has its roots in the work of Desargues (1591–1661) and the ‘proto-topology’ that appears in the work of Du ̈rer (1471–1528) – and a number of the subsequent developments in these fields of mathematics. Deleuze brings this elaborate conjunction of material together in order to set up a mathematical idealization of the system that he considers to be implicit in Leibniz’s work. The result is a thoroughly mathematical explication of the structure of Leibniz’s metaphysics. What is provided in this paper is an exposition of the very mathematical underpinnings of this Deleuzian account of the structure of Leibniz’s metaphysics, which, I maintain, subtends the entire text of The Fold. (shrink)
This paper addresses a question concerning psychological continuity, i.e., which features preserve the same psychological subject over time; this is not the same question as the one concerning the necessary and sufficient conditions for personal identity. Marc Slors defends an account of psychological continuity that adds two features to Derek Parfit’s Relation R, namely narrativity and embodiment. Slors’s account is a significant improvement on Parfit’s, but still lacks an explicit acknowledgment of a third feature that I call relationality. (...) Because they are usually regarded as cases of radical discontinuity, I start my discussion from the experiences of psychological disruption undergone by victims of severe violence and trauma. As it turns out, the challenges we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of violence and trauma victims are germane to those we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of subjects in non-traumatic contexts. What is missing in the most popular accounts of psychological continuity is an explicit acknowledgment of the links that tie our psychological lives to other subjects. A more persuasive notion of psychological continuity is not only embodied and narrative, as is Slors’s notion, but also explicitly relational. (shrink)
The primary justification for mathematical structuralism is its capacity to explain two observations about mathematical objects, typically natural numbers. Non-eliminative structuralism attributes these features to the particular ontology of mathematics. I argue that attributing the features to an ontology of structural objects conflicts with claims often made by structuralists to the effect that their structuralist theses are versions of Quine’s ontological relativity or Putnam’s internal realism. I describe and argue for an alternative explanation for these features which instead (...) explains the attributes them to the mathematical practice of representing numbers using more concrete tokens, such as sets, strokes and so on. (shrink)
A widely accepted view in the discussion of personal identity is that the notion of psychological continuity expresses a one--many or many--one relation. This belief is unfounded. A notion of psychological continuity expresses a one--many or many--one relation only if it includes, as a constituent, psychological properties whose relation with their bearers is one--many or many--one; but the relation between an indexical psychological state and its bearer when first tokened is not a one--many or many--one relation. It follows (...) that not all types of psychological continuity may take a one--many or many--one form. This conclusion casts doubt on the Lockean approach to the issue, by showing that the notion of psychological continuity Lockeans rely on may not be available. (shrink)
I want to examine the implications of a metaphysical thesis which is presupposed in various objections to Rawls' theory of justice.Although their criticisms differ in many respects, they concur in employing what I shall refer to as the continuity thesis. This consists of the following claims conjointly: (1) The parties in the original position (henceforth the OP) are, and know themselves to be, fully mature persons who will be among the members of the well-ordered society (henceforth the WOS) which (...) is generated by their choice of principles of justice. (2) The OP is a conscious event among others, integrated (compatibly with the constraints on knowledge and motivation imposed on the parties) into the regular continuity of experience that comprises each of their ongoing constitutes lives. (3) The parties in the OP thus are, and regard themselves as, psychologically continuing persons, partially determined in personality and interests by prior experiences, capable of recollection and regret concerning the past, anticipation and apprehensiveness regarding the future, and so on. Although the continuity thesis as stated above is not at odds with any of the conditions that define the OP, its exegetical validity is a matter for discussion. I shall be concerned to argue that if it is indeed contained in or a consequence of Rawls' theory, then it casts into doubt the capacity of the OP to generate or justify any principles of justice at all. On the other hand, if the continuity thesis is viewed as dispensable and unnecessary to the Rawlsian enterprise, then Rawls is correct in maintaining the irrelevance of the question of personal identity to the construction of his moral theory. In this case, the contract-theoretic, instrumentalist justification for the two principles of justice (henceforth the 2PJ) needs to be supplanted by a modified conception of wide reflective equilibrium. The considerations that form the bulk of this discussion then may be understood as providing a rationale for Rawls' recent revisions in the model of justification on which his theory of justice rests, and for his increasing emphasis on us as moral mediators between the OP and the WOS. Now I want to consider the question of whether or not, given the textual evidence, anything like the continuity thesis is stated or implied by Rawls, and what problems for his theory, if any, turn on a positive or negative answer to this question. -/- . (shrink)
The Continuity Test is the principle that a proposed distribution of resources is wrong if it treats someone as disadvantaged when they don't see it that way themselves, for example by offering compensation for features that they do not themselves regard as handicaps. This principle — which is most prominently developed in Ronald Dworkin's defence of his theory of distributive justice — is an attractive one for a liberal to endorse as part of her theory of distributive justice and (...) disadvantage. In this article, I play out some of its implications, and show that in its basic form the Continuity Test is inconsistent. It relies on a tacit commitment to the protection of autonomy, understood to consist in an agent deciding for herself what is valuable and living her life in accordance with that decision. A contradiction arises when we consider factors which are putatively disadvantaging by dint of threatening individual autonomy construed in this way. I argue that the problem can be resolved by embracing a more explicit commitment to the protection (and perhaps promotion) of individual autonomy. This implies a constrained version of the Continuity Test, thereby salvaging most of the intuitions which lead people to endorse the Test. It also gives us the wherewithal to sketch an interesting and novel theory of distributive justice, with individual autonomy at its core. (shrink)
Mathematical models provide explanations of limited power of specific aspects of phenomena. One way of articulating their limits here, without denying their essential powers, is in terms of contrastive explanation.
This paper is a contribution to graded model theory, in the context of mathematical fuzzy logic. We study characterizations of classes of graded structures in terms of the syntactic form of their first-order axiomatization. We focus on classes given by universal and universal-existential sentences. In particular, we prove two amalgamation results using the technique of diagrams in the setting of structures valued on a finite MTL-algebra, from which analogues of the Łoś–Tarski and the Chang–Łoś–Suszko preservation theorems follow.
This paper offers a new interpretation for Wittgenstein`s treatment of mathematical identities. As it is widely known, Wittgenstein`s mature philosophy of mathematics includes a general rejection of abstract objects. On the other hand, the traditional interpretation of mathematical identities involves precisely the idea of a single abstract object – usually a number –named by both sides of an equation.
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