We argue that if Stephen Yablo (2005) is right that philosophers of mathematics ought to endorse a fictionalist view of number-talk, then there is a compelling reason for deflationists about truth to endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk. More specifically, our claim will be that, for deflationists about truth, Yablo’s argument for mathematicalfictionalism can be employed and mounted as an argument for truth-theoretic fictionalism.
Fictionalists maintain that possible worlds, numbers or composite objects exist only according to theories which are useful but false. Hale, Divers and Woodward have provided arguments which threaten to show that fictionalists must be prepared to regard the theories in question as contingently, rather than necessarily, false. If warranted, this conclusion would significantly limit the appeal of the fictionalist strategy rendering it unavailable to anyone antecedently convinced that mathematics and metaphysics concern non-contingent matters. I try to show that their arguments (...) can be resisted by developing and defending a strategy suggested by Rosen, Nolan and Dorr, according to which the fiction-operator is to be analysed in terms of a counterfactual that admits of non-trival truth-values even when the antecedent is impossible. (shrink)
Easy-road mathematical fictionalists grant for the sake of argument that quantification over mathematical entities is indispensable to some of our best scientific theories and explanations. Even so they maintain we can accept those theories and explanations, without believing their mathematical components, provided we believe the concrete world is intrinsically as it needs to be for those components to be true. Those I refer to as “mathematical surrealists” by contrast appeal to facts about the intrinsic character of (...) the concrete world, not to explain why our best mathematically imbued scientific theories and explanations are acceptable in spite of having false components, but in order to replace those theories and explanations with parasitic, nominalistically acceptable alternatives. I argue that easy-road fictionalism is viable only if mathematical surrealism is and that the latter constitutes a superior nominalist strategy. Two advantages of mathematical surrealism are that it neither begs the question concerning the explanatory role of mathematics in science nor requires rejecting the cogency of inference to the best explanation. (shrink)
Fictionalism plays a significant role in philosophy today, with defenses spanning mathematics, morality, ordinary objects, truth, modality, and more.1 Fictionalism in the philosophy of science is also gaining attention, due in particular to the revival of Hans Vaihinger’s work from the early twentieth century and to heightened interest in idealization in scientific practice.2 Vaihinger maintains that there is a ubiquity of fictions in science and, among other things, argues that Nietzsche supports the position. Yet, while contemporary commentators have (...) focused on fictionalism in Nietzsche’s moral philosophy, his view of fictions in science has remained largely unexamined.3 In this article, I begin... (shrink)
This paper, written in Romanian, compares fictionalism, nominalism, and neo-Meinongianism as responses to the problem of objectivity in mathematics, and then motivates a fictionalist view of objectivity as invariance.
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)
Gödel argued that intuition has an important role to play in mathematical epistemology, and despite the infamy of his own position, this opinion still has much to recommend it. Intuitions and folk platitudes play a central role in philosophical enquiry too, and have recently been elevated to a central position in one project for understanding philosophical methodology: the so-called ‘Canberra Plan’. This philosophical role for intuitions suggests an analogous epistemology for some fundamental parts of mathematics, which casts a number (...) of themes in recent philosophy of mathematics (concerning a priority and fictionalism, for example) in revealing new light. (shrink)
Both literalism, the view that mathematical objects simply exist in the empirical world, and fictionalism, the view that mathematical objects do not exist but are rather harmless fictions, have been both ascribed to Aristotle. The ascription of literalism to Aristotle, however, commits Aristotle to the unattractive view that mathematics studies but a small fragment of the physical world; and there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the literalist position that mathematical objects are perceivable. The ascription of (...)fictionalism also faces a difficult challenge: there is evidence that Aristotle would deny the fictionalist position that mathematics is false. I argue that, in Aristotle's view, the fiction of mathematics is not to treat what does not exist as if existing but to treat mathematical objects with an ontological status they lack. This form of fictionalism is consistent with holding that mathematics is true. (shrink)
Any philosophy of science ought to have something to say about the nature of mathematics, especially an account like constructive empiricism in which mathematical concepts like model and isomorphism play a central role. This thesis is a contribution to the larger project of formulating a constructive empiricist account of mathematics. The philosophy of mathematics developed is fictionalist, with an anti-realist metaphysics. In the thesis, van Fraassen's constructive empiricism is defended and various accounts of mathematics are considered and rejected. Constructive (...) empiricism cannot be realist about abstract objects; it must reject even the realism advocated by otherwise ontologically restrained and epistemologically empiricist indispensability theorists. Indispensability arguments rely on the kind of inference to the best explanation the rejection of which is definitive of constructive empiricism. On the other hand, formalist and logicist anti-realist positions are also shown to be untenable. It is argued that a constructive empiricist philosophy of mathematics must be fictionalist. Borrowing and developing elements from both Philip Kitcher's constructive naturalism and Kendall Walton's theory of fiction, the account of mathematics advanced treats mathematics as a collection of stories told about an ideal agent and mathematical objects as fictions. The account explains what true portions of mathematics are about and why mathematics is useful, even while it is a story about an ideal agent operating in an ideal world; it connects theory and practice in mathematics with human experience of the phenomenal world. At the same time, the make-believe and game-playing aspects of the theory show how we can make sense of mathematics as fiction, as stories, without either undermining that explanation or being forced to accept abstract mathematical objects into our ontology. All of this occurs within the framework that constructive empiricism itself provides the epistemological limitations it mandates, the semantic view of theories, and an emphasis on the pragmatic dimension of our theories, our explanations, and of our relation to the language we use. (shrink)
Hermeneutic fictionalism about mathematics maintains that mathematics is not committed to the existence of abstract objects such as numbers. Mathematical sentences are true, but they should not be construed literally. Numbers are just fictions in terms of which we can conveniently describe things which exist. The paper defends Stephen Yablo’s hermeneutic fictionalism against an objection proposed by John Burgess and Gideon Rosen. The objection, directed against all forms of nominalism, goes as follows. Nominalism can take either a (...) hermeneutic form and claim that mathematics, when rightly understood, is not committed to the existence of abstract objects, or a revolutionary form and claim that mathematics is to be understood literally but is false. The hermeneutic version is said to be untenable because there is no philosophically unbiased linguistic argument to show that mathematics should not be understood literally. Against this I argue that it is wrong to demand that hermeneutic fictionalism should be established solely on the basis of linguistic evidence. In addition, there are reasons to think that hermeneutic fictionalism cannot even be defeated by linguistic arguments alone. (shrink)
Some philosophers have recently suggested that the reason mathematics is useful in science is that it expands our expressive capacities. Of these philosophers, only Stephen Yablo has put forward a detailed account of how mathematics brings this advantage. In this article, I set out Yablo’s view and argue that it is implausible. Then, I introduce a simpler account and show it is a serious rival to Yablo’s. 1 Introduction2 Yablo’s Expressionism3 Psychological Objections to Yablo’s Expressionism4 Introducing Belief Expressionism5 Objections and (...) Replies5.1 Yablo’s likely response5.2 Charity6 Conclusion. (shrink)
It is our contention that an ontological commitment to propositions faces a number of problems; so many, in fact, that an attitude of realism towards propositions—understood the usual “platonistic” way, as a kind of mind- and language-independent abstract entity—is ultimately untenable. The particular worries about propositions that marshal parallel problems that Paul Benacerraf has raised for mathematical platonists. At the same time, the utility of “proposition-talk”—indeed, the apparent linguistic commitment evident in our use of 'that'-clauses (in offering explanations and (...) making predictions)—is also in need of explanation. We account for this with a fictionalist analysis of our use of 'that'-clauses. Our account avoids certain problems that arise for the usual error-theoretic versions of fictionalism because we apply the notion of semantic pretense to develop an alternative, pretense-involving, non-error-theoretic, fictionalist account of proposition-talk. (shrink)
State of the art paper on the topic realism/anti-realism. The first part of the paper elucidates the notions of existence and independence of the metaphysical characterization of the realism/anti-realism dispute. The second part of the paper presents a critical taxonomy of the most important positions and doctrines in the contemporary literature on the domains of science and mathematics: scientific realism, scientific anti-realism, constructive empiricism, structural realism, mathematical Platonism, mathematical indispensability, mathematical empiricism, intuitionism, mathematicalfictionalism and (...) second philosophy. (shrink)
“Structuralism, Fictionalism, and the Applicability of Mathematics in Science”. This article has two objectives. The first one is to review some of the most important questions in the contemporary philosophy of mathematics: What is the nature of mathematical objects? How do we acquire knowledge about these objects? Should mathematical statements be interpreted differently than ordinary ones? And, finally, how can we explain the applicability of mathematics in science? The debate that guides these reflections is the one between (...)mathematical realism and anti-realism. On the other hand, the second objective is to discuss the arguments that use the applicability of mathematics in science to justify mathematical realism, and show that none of them reaches its aim. To this end, we will distinguish three aspects of the problem of the applicability of mathematics: the utility of mathematics in science, the unexpected utility of some mathematical theories, and the apparent indispensability of mathematics in our best scientific theories - in particular, in our best scientific explanations. Finally, I argue that none of these aspects constitutes a reason to adopt mathematical realism. (shrink)
Yablo has argued for an alternative form of if-thenism that is more conducive with his figurative fictionalism. This commentary sets out to challenge whether the remainder, ρ, tends to be an inaccurate representation of the conditions that are supposed to complete the enthymeme from φ to Ψ. Whilst by some accounts the inaccuracies shouldn't set off any alarm bells, the truth of ρ is too inexact. The content of ρ, a partial truth, must display a sensitivity to the contextual (...) background conditions for subtraction to work properly in Yablo's view. Using a toy example, I argue that Yablo's subtraction model tends to yield partial truths as remainders that fail to rule out inaccurate expressions that may prove to be problematic for it. (shrink)
In a lot of domains in metaphysics the tacit assumption has been that whichever metaphysical principles turn out to be true, these will be necessarily true. Let us call necessitarianism about some domain the thesis that the right metaphysics of that domain is necessary. Necessitarianism has flourished. In the philosophy of maths we find it held that if mathematical objects exist, then they do of necessity. Mathematical Platonists affirm the necessary existence of mathematical objects (see for instance (...) Hale and Wright 1992 and 1994; Wright 1983 and 1988; Schiffer 1996; Resnik 1997; Shapiro 1997 and Zalta 1988) while mathematical nominalists, usually in the form of fictionalists, hold that necessarily such objects fail to exist (see for instance Balaguer 1996 and 1998; Rosen 2001 and Yablo 2005). In metaphysics more generally, until recently it was more or less assumed that whatever the right account of composition—the account of under what conditions some xs compose a y—that account will be necessarily true (for a discussion of theories of composition see Simons 1987 and van Inwagen 1987 and 1990; the modal status of the composition relation is explicitly addressed in Schaffer 2007; Parsons 2006 and Cameron 2007). Similarly, it has generally been assumed that whatever the right account is of the nature of properties, whether they be universals, tropes, or whether nominalism is true, that account will be necessarily true (though see Rosen 2006 for a recent suggestion to the contrary). In considering theories of persistence it has been widely held that whether objects endure or perdure through time is a matter of necessity (Sider 2001; though see Lewis 1999 p227 who defends contingent perdurantism). And with respect to theories of time it is frequently held that whichever of the A- or B-theory is true is necessarily true. A-theorists often argue that there is time in a world only if the A-theory is true at that world (see for instance McTaggart 1903; Markosian 2004; Bigelow 1996; Craig 2001) while B-theorists often argue that the A-theory is internally inconsistent (Smart 1987; Mellor 1998; Savitt 2000 and Le Poidevin 1991). Once again, we find a few recent contingentist dissenters. Bourne (2006) suggests that it is a contingent feature of time that it is tensed, and thus that the A-theory is contingently true. Worlds in which there exist only B-theoretic properties are worlds with time, it is just that time in those worlds time is radically different to the way it is actually. Other defenders of the B-theory, though not expressly contingentists, do offer arguments against versions of the A-theory that try to show that such A-theories theories are inconsistent with the actual laws of nature (see for instance Saunders 2002 and Callender 2000); these arguments, at least, leave room for the possibility that the A-theories in question are contingently false (at least on the assumption that the laws of nature are themselves contingent, an assumption that not everyone accepts). Despite some notable exceptions, necessitarianism has flourished in many, if not most, domains in metaphysics. One such exception is Lewis’ famous defence of Humean supervenience as a contingent claim about our world. Lewis does not argue that necessarily, the supervenience base for all matters of fact in a world is nothing but a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact. Rather, he thinks that we have reason to think that our world is one in which Humean supervenience holds (see Lewis 1986 p9-10 and 1994). Another exception to the necessitarian orthodoxy is to be found in the lively debate about the modal status of the laws of nature. Here, if anything, contingentism has been the dominating force, with it generally being held that there are possible worlds in which different laws of nature hold (this view is defended by, among others, Lewis 1986 and 2010; Schaffer 2005 and Sidelle 2002). Necessitarian dissenters hold that the laws of nature are necessary, frequently because they think it is necessary that fundamental properties have the causal or nomic profiles they do (see for instance Shoemaker 1980 and 1988; Swoyer 1982; Bird 1995; Ellis and Lierse 1994). Nevertheless, when it comes to thinking about the nature of the laws themselves, the necessitarian presumption is back on firm footing. Though there is disagreement about whether the laws are generalisations that feature in the most virtuous true axiomatisation of all the particular matters of fact (often known as the Humean view of laws and defended by Ramsey 1978; Lewis 1986 and Beebee 2000) or whether laws are relations of necessity that hold between universals (a view defended by Armstrong 1983; Dretske 1977; Tooley 1977 and Carroll 1990) no one has seriously suggested that it might be a contingent matter which of these is the right account of laws. The necessitarian orthodoxy is not surprising since metaphysics is largely an a priori process. While a priori reasoning may be used to determine whether a proposition is necessary or contingent, it is not well placed (in the absence of a posteriori evidence) to determine whether a contingent proposition is actually true or false. Since metaphysicians aim to tell us which principles are true in which worlds, on the face of it the discovery that metaphysical principles are contingent seems to make part of the task of metaphysics epistemically intractable. In what follows I consider two reasons one might end up embracing contingentism and whether this would lead one into epistemic difficulty. The following section considers a route to contingent metaphysical truths that proceeds via a combination of conceptual necessities and empirical discoveries. Section 3 considers whether there might be synthetic contingent metaphysical truths, and the final section raises the question of whether if there were such truths we would be well placed to come to know them. (shrink)
Fictionalist approaches to ontology have been an accepted part of philosophical methodology for some time now. On a fictionalist view, engaging in discourse that involves apparent reference to a realm of problematic entities is best viewed as engaging in a pretense. Although in reality, the problematic entities do not exist, according to the pretense we engage in when using the discourse, they do exist. In the vocabulary of Burgess and Rosen (1997, p. 6), a nominalist construal of a given discourse (...) is revolutionary just in case it involves a “reconstruction or revision” of the original discourse. Revolutionary approaches are therefore prescriptive. In contrast, a nominalist construal of a given discourse is hermeneutic just in case it is a nominalist construal of a discourse that is put forth as a hypothesis about how the discourse is in fact used; that is, hermeneutic approaches are descriptive. I will adopt Burgess and Rosen’s terminology to describe the two different spirits in which a fictionalist hypothesis in ontology might be advanced. Revolutionary fictionalism would involve admitting that while the problematic discourse does in fact involve literal reference to nonexistent entities, we ought to use the discourse in such a way that the reference is simply within the pretense. The hermeneutic fictionalist, in contrast, reads fictionalism into our actual use of the problematic discourse. According to her, normal use of the problematic discourse involves a pretense. According to the pretense, and only according to the pretense, there exist the objects to which the discourse would commit its users, were no pretense involved. My purpose in this paper is to argue that hermeneutic fictionalism is not a viable strategy in ontology. My argument proceeds in two steps. First, I discuss in detail several problematic consequences of any interesting application of hermeneutic fictionalism. Of course, if there is good evidence that hermeneutic fictionalism is correct in some cases, then some of these drastic consequences would have to be accepted.. (shrink)
Can fictionalists have faith? It all depends on how we disambiguate ‘fictionalists’ and on what faith is. I consider the matter in light of my own theory. After clarifying its central terms, I distinguish two fictionalists – atheistic and agnostic – and I argue that, even though no atheistic fictionalist can have faith on my theory, agnostic fictionalists arguably can. After rejecting Finlay Malcolm's reasons for thinking this is a problem, I use his paradigmatic agnostic fictionalist as a foil to (...) explore a variety of ways in which to describe agnostic fictionalists, none of whom pose a problem for my theory. (shrink)
According to non-doxastic theories of propositional faith, belief that p is not necessary for faith that p. Rather, propositional faith merely requires a ‘positive cognitive attitude’. This broad condition, however, can be satisfied by several pragmatic approaches to a domain, including fictionalism. This paper shows precisely how fictionalists can have faith given non-doxastic theory, and explains why this is problematic. It then explores one means of separating the two theories, in virtue of the fact that the truth of the (...) propositions in a discourse is of little consequence for fictionalists, whereas their truth matters deeply for the faithful. Although promising, this approach incurs several theoretical costs, hence providing a compelling reason to favour a purely doxastic account of faith. (shrink)
Numbers without Science opposes the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument, seeking to undermine the argument and reduce its profound influence. Philosophers rely on indispensability to justify mathematical knowledge using only empiricist epistemology. I argue that we need an independent account of our knowledge of mathematics. The indispensability argument, in broad form, consists of two premises. The major premise alleges that we are committed to mathematical objects if science requires them. The minor premise alleges that science in fact requires mathematical (...) objects. The most common rejection of the argument denies its minor premise by introducing scientific theories which do not refer to mathematical objects. Hartry Field has shown how we can reformulate some physical theories without mathematical commitments. I argue that Field’s preference for intrinsic explanation, which underlies his reformulation, is ill-motivated, and that his resultant fictionalism suffers unacceptable consequences. I attack the major premise instead. I argue that Quine provides a mistaken criterion for ontic commitment. Our uses of mathematics in scientific theory are instrumental and do not commit us to mathematical objects. Furthermore, even if we accept Quine’s criterion for ontic commitment, the indispensability argument justifies only an anemic version of mathematics, and does not yield traditional mathematical objects. The first two chapters of the dissertation develop these results for Quine’s indispensability argument. In the third chapter, I apply my findings to other contemporary indispensabilists, specifically the structuralists Michael Resnik and Stewart Shapiro. In the fourth chapter, I show that indispensability arguments which do not rely on Quine’s holism, like that of Putnam, are even less successful. Also in Chapter 4, I show how Putnam’s work in the philosophy of mathematics is unified around the indispensability argument. In the last chapter of the dissertation, I conclude that we need an account of mathematical knowledge which does not appeal to empirical science and which does not succumb to mysticism and speculation. Briefly, my strategy is to argue that any defensible solution to the demarcation problem of separating good scientific theories from bad ones will find mathematics to be good, if not empirical, science. (shrink)
Religious fictionalism is the theory that it is morally and intellectually legitimate to affirm religious sentences and to engage in public and private religious practices, without believing the content of religious claims. This article discusses the main features of fictionalism, contrasts hermeneutic, and revolutionary kinds of fictionalism and explores possible historical and recent examples of religious fictionalism. Such examples are found in recent theories of faith, pragmatic approaches to religion, and mystical traditions in religious theology.
Mental fictionalism is the view that, even if mental states do not exist, it is useful to talk as if they do. Mental states are useful fictions. Recent philosophy of mind has seen a growing interest in mental fictionalism. To date, much of the discussion has concerned the general features of the approach. In this paper, I develop a specific form of mental fictionalism by drawing on Kendall Walton’s work on make-believe. According to the approach I propose, (...) talk of mental states is a useful pretence for describing people and their behaviour. I try to clarify and motivate this approach by comparing it to well-known alternatives, including behaviourism, instrumentalism and eliminativism. I also consider some of the challenges that it faces. (shrink)
Fictionalism in ontology is a mixed bag. Here I focus on three main variants—which I label after the names of Pascal, Berkeley, and Hume—and consider their relative strengths and weaknesses. The first variant is just a version of the epistemic Wager, applied across the board. The second variant builds instead on the fact that ordinary language is not ontologically transparent; we speak with the vulgar, but deep down we think with the learned. Finally, on the Humean variant it’s the (...) structure of the ontological inventory, not its content, that may turn out to involve fictional elements. That is, for the Humean the fiction lies, not in the reality of common-sense ontology, but in the laws—of unity, identity, causation, etc.—in terms of which we articulate our experience of that reality. In the end, this is the kind of fictionalism that I find most interesting, sensible, and tenable. And I argue that it is even compatible with the sort of “naive” realism we have all come to appreciate in the work of Paolo Bozzi, to whom the paper is dedicated. (shrink)
Is propositional religious faith constituted by belief? Recent debate has focussed on whether faith may be constituted by a positive non-doxastic cognitive state, which can stand in place of belief. This paper sets out and defends the doxastic theory. We consider and reject three arguments commonly used in favour of non-doxastic theories of faith: (1) the argument from religious doubt; (2) the use of ‘faith’ in linguistic utterances; and (3) the possibility of pragmatic faith. We argue that belief is required (...) to maintain a distinction between genuine faith, pretend faith, and fictionalist faith. (shrink)
The Brock-Rosen problem has been one of the most thoroughly discussed objections to the modal fictionalism bruited in Gideon Rosen’s ‘Modal Fictionalism’. But there is a more fundamental problem with modal fictionalism, at least as it is normally explained: the position does not resolve the tension that motivated it. I argue that if we pay attention to a neglected aspect of modal fictionalism, we will see how to resolve this tension—and we will also find a persuasive (...) reply to the Brock-Rosen objection. Finally, I discuss an alternative reading of Rosen, and argue that this position is also able to fend off the Brock-Rosen objection. (shrink)
Our paper consists of three parts. In the first part we explain the concept of mental fictionalism. In the second part, we present the various versions of fictionalism and their main sources of motivation.We do this because in the third part we argue that mental fictionalism, as opposed to other versions of fictionalism, is a highly undermotivated theory.
In "How to Speak of the Colors", Mark Johnston’s claims that eliminativism would require us to jettison colour discourse. In this paper, I challenge Johnston’s claim. I argue that a particular version of eliminativism, i.e., prescriptive colour fictionalism, allows us to continue employing colour discourse as we have thus far in the absence of colours. In doing so, it employs statistical models in its base discourse to derive high-level statistical constructs that can be linked to the fiction via bridge (...) principles. (shrink)
Fictionalism has recently returned as a standard response to ontologically problematic domains. This article assesses moral fictionalism. It argues (i) that a correct understanding of the dialectical situation in contemporary metaethics shows that fictionalism is only an interesting new alternative if it can provide a new account of normative content: what is it that I am thinking or saying when I think or say that I ought to do something; and (ii) that fictionalism, qua fictionalism, (...) does not provide us with any new resources for providing such an account. (shrink)
According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible. This is the basis of Mackie's now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie's approach can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark (...) Kalderon has argued that moral fictionalism is attractive quite independently of Mackie's error-theory. Kalderon argues that the Frege-Geach problem shows that we need moral propositions, but that a fictionalist can and should embrace propositional content together with a non-cognitivist account of acceptance of a moral proposition. Indeed, it is clear that any fictionalist is going to have to postulate more than one kind of acceptance attitude. We argue that this doubleapproach to acceptance generates a new problem -a descendent of Frege-Geach -which we call the acceptance-transfer problem. Although we develop the problem in the context of Kalderon's version of non-cognitivist fictionalism, we show that it is not the noncognitivist aspect of Kalderon's account that generates the problem. A closely related problem surfaces for the more typical variants of fictionalism according to which accepting a moral proposition is believing some closely related non-moral proposition. Fictionalists of both stripes thus have an attitude problem. (shrink)
This paper surveys contemporary accounts of error theory and fictionalism. It introduces these categories to those new to metaethics by beginning with moral nihilism, the view that nothing really is right or wrong. One main motivation is that the scientific worldview seems to have no place for rightness or wrongness. Within contemporary metaethics there is a family of theories that makes similar claims. These are the theories that are usually classified as forms of error theory or fictionalism though (...) there are different ways of accepting some form of the view that nothing is really write or wrong. A range of different ways of going in the light of such a realization is also proposed. The resulting taxonomy of positions is quite complicated and sometimes surprising. One surprise will be that some positions plausibly classified as error theories or forms of fictionalism do not quite seem to be forms of nihilism. (shrink)
I argue that certain species of belief, such as mathematical, logical, and normative beliefs, are insulated from a form of Harman-style debunking argument whereas moral beliefs, the primary target of such arguments, are not. Harman-style arguments have been misunderstood as attempts to directly undermine our moral beliefs. They are rather best given as burden-shifting arguments, concluding that we need additional reasons to maintain our moral beliefs. If we understand them this way, then we can see why moral beliefs are (...) vulnerable to such arguments while mathematical, logical, and normative beliefs are not—the very construction of Harman-style skeptical arguments requires the truth of significant fragments of our mathematical, logical, and normative beliefs, but requires no such thing of our moral beliefs. Given this property, Harman-style skeptical arguments against logical, mathematical, and normative beliefs are self-effacing; doubting these beliefs on the basis of such arguments results in the loss of our reasons for doubt. But we can cleanly doubt the truth of morality. (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)
In these days, there is an increasing technological development in intelligent tutoring systems. This field has become interesting to many researchers. In this paper, we present an intelligent tutoring system for teaching mathematics that help students understand the basics of math and that helps a lot of students of all ages to understand the topic because it's important for students of adding and subtracting. Through which the student will be able to study the course and solve related problems. An evaluation (...) of the intelligent tutoring systems was carried out and the results were encouraging. (shrink)
A promising recent approach for understanding complex phenomena is recognition of anticipatory behavior of living organisms and social organizations. The anticipatory, predictive action permits learning, novelty seeking, rich experiential existence. I argue that the established frameworks of anticipation, adaptation or learning imply overly passive roles of anticipatory agents, and that a fictionalist standpoint reflects the core of anticipatory behavior better than representational or future references. Cognizing beings enact not just their models of the world, but own make-believe existential agendas as (...) well. Anticipators embody plausible scripts of living, and effectively assume neo-Kantian or pragmatist perspectives of cognition and action. It is instructive to see that anticipatory behavior is not without mundane or loathsome deficiencies. Appreciation of ferally fictionalist anticipation suggests an equivalence of semiosis and anticipation. (shrink)
Published in 1903, this book was the first comprehensive treatise on the logical foundations of mathematics written in English. It sets forth, as far as possible without mathematical and logical symbolism, the grounds in favour of the view that mathematics and logic are identical. It proposes simply that what is commonly called mathematics are merely later deductions from logical premises. It provided the thesis for which _Principia Mathematica_ provided the detailed proof, and introduced the work of Frege to a (...) wider audience. In addition to the new introduction by John Slater, this edition contains Russell's introduction to the 1937 edition in which he defends his position against his formalist and intuitionist critics. (shrink)
Call an explanation in which a non-mathematical fact is explained—in part or in whole—by mathematical facts: an extra-mathematical explanation. Such explanations have attracted a great deal of interest recently in arguments over mathematical realism. In this article, a theory of extra-mathematical explanation is developed. The theory is modelled on a deductive-nomological theory of scientific explanation. A basic DN account of extra-mathematical explanation is proposed and then redeveloped in the light of two difficulties that the (...) basic theory faces. The final view appeals to relevance logic and uses resources in information theory to understand the explanatory relationship between mathematical and physical facts. 1Introduction2Anchoring3The Basic Deductive-Mathematical Account4The Genuineness Problem5Irrelevance6Relevance and Information7Objections and Replies 7.1Against relevance logic7.2Too epistemic7.3Informational containment8Conclusion. (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)
We demonstrate how real progress can be made in the debate surrounding the enhanced indispensability argument. Drawing on a counterfactual theory of explanation, well-motivated independently of the debate, we provide a novel analysis of ‘explanatory generality’ and how mathematics is involved in its procurement. On our analysis, mathematics’ sole explanatory contribution to the procurement of explanatory generality is to make counterfactual information about physical dependencies easier to grasp and reason with for creatures like us. This gives precise content to key (...) intuitions traded in the debate, regarding mathematics’ procurement of explanatory generality, and adjudicates unambiguously in favour of the nominalist, at least as far as ex- planatory generality is concerned. (shrink)
These comments are my contribution to the author-meets-critics session on Katharina Kraus' recently published Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation, at the APA Pacific meeting. In my comments, I challenge Kraus' characterization of my fictionalism concerning the idea of the soul, and contend for the importance of transcendental illusion in that idea's function of guiding the empirical investigation of inner appearances.
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)
In his influential book, The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman writes: “In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles.” What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? This chapter argues that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what the chapter calls the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, (...) D—the challenge to justify our D-beliefs—with the reliability challenge for D-realism—the challenge to explain the reliability of our D-beliefs. Harman’s contrast is relevant to the first, but not, evidently, to the second. One upshot of the discussion is that genealogical debunking arguments are fallacious. Another is that indispensability considerations cannot answer the Benacerraf–Field challenge for mathematical realism. (shrink)
Some authors have begun to appeal directly to studies of argumentation in their analyses of mathematical practice. These include researchers from an impressively diverse range of disciplines: not only philosophy of mathematics and argumentation theory, but also psychology, education, and computer science. This introduction provides some background to their work.
Prop oriented make-believe is make-believe utilized for the purpose of understanding what I call “props,” actual objects or states of affairs that make propositions “fictional,” true in the make-believe world. I, David Hills, and others have claimed that prop oriented make-believe lies at the heart of the functioning of many metaphors, and one variety of fictionalism in metaphysics invokes prop oriented make-believe to explain away apparent references to entities some find questionable or problematic (fictional characters, propositions, moral properties, numbers). (...) Elisabeth Camp has argued against my and David Hills’ views of metaphor. Her arguments, many of them echoed by Catharine Wearing, demolish a very implausible account of metaphor, but leave entirely untouched the views that Hills and I actually proposed. Clarifying what we say about metaphor serves also as a defense of fictionalist theories that invoke prop oriented make-believe. (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)
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