Some have argued for a division of epistemic labor in which mathematicians supply truths and philosophers supply their necessity. We argue that this is wrong: mathematics is committed to its own necessity. Counterfactuals play a starring role.
Einstein, like most philosophers, thought that there cannot be mathematical truths which are both necessary and about reality. The article argues against this, starting with prima facie examples such as "It is impossible to tile my bathroom floor with regular pentagonal tiles." Replies are given to objections based on the supposedly purely logical or hypothetical nature of mathematics.
This paper is concerned with counterfactual logic and its implications for the modal status of mathematical claims. It is most directly a response to an ambitious program by Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne (2018), who seek to establish that mathematics is committed to its own necessity. I claim that their argument fails to establish this result for two reasons. First, their assumptions force our hand on a controversial debate within counterfactual logic. In particular, they license counterfactual strengthening— the inference from (...) ‘If A were true then C would be true’ to ‘If A and B were true then C would be true’—which many reject. Second, the system they develop is provably equivalent to appending Deduction Theorem to a T modal logic. It is unsurprising that the combination of Deduction Theorem with T results in necessitation; indeed, it is precisely for this reason that many logicians reject Deduction Theorem in modal contexts. If Deduction Theorem is unacceptable for modal logic, it cannot be assumed to derive the necessity of mathematics. (shrink)
In many diagrams one seems to perceive necessity – one sees not only that something is so, but that it must be so. That conflicts with a certain empiricism largely taken for granted in contemporary philosophy, which believes perception is not capable of such feats. The reason for this belief is often thought well-summarized in Hume's maxim: ‘there are no necessary connections between distinct existences’. It is also thought that even if there were such necessities, perception is too passive (...) or localized a faculty to register them. We defend the perception of necessity against such Humeanism, drawing on examples from mathematics. (shrink)
It seems possible to know that a mathematical claim is necessarily true by inspecting a diagrammatic proof. Yet how does this work, given that human perception seems to just (as Hume assumed) ‘show us particular objects in front of us’? I draw on Peirce’s account of perception to answer this question. Peirce considered mathematics as experimental a science as physics. Drawing on an example, I highlight the existence of a primitive constraint or blocking function in our thinking which we (...) might call ‘the hardness of the mathematical must’. (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)
Anyone who has read Plato’s Republic knows it has a lot to say about mathematics. But why? I shall not be satisfied with the answer that the future rulers of the ideal city are to be educated in mathematics, so Plato is bound to give some space to the subject. I want to know why the rulers are to be educated in mathematics. More pointedly, why are they required to study so much mathematics, for so long?
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)
If logical truth is necessitated by sheer syntax, mathematics is categorially unlike logic even if all mathematics derives from definitions and logical principles. This contrast gets obscured by the plausibility of the Synonym Substitution Principle implicit in conceptions of analyticity: synonym substitution cannot alter sentence sense. The Principle obviously fails with intercepting: nonuniform term substitution in logical sentences. 'Televisions are televisions' and 'TVs are televisions' neither sound alike nor are used interchangeably. Interception synonymy gets assumed because logical sentences (...) and their synomic interceptions have identical factual content, which seems to exhaust semantic content. However, intercepting alters syntax by eliminating term recurrence, the sole strictly syntactic means of ensuring necessary term coextension, and thereby syntactically securing necessary truth. Interceptional necessity is lexical, a notational artifact. The denial of interception nonsynonymy and the disregard of term recurrence in logic link with many misconceptions about propositions, logical form, conventions, and metalanguages. Mathematics is distinct from logic: its truth is not syntactic; it is transmitted by synonym substitution; term recurrence has no essential role. The '=' of mathematics is an objectual relation between numbers; the '=' of logic marks a syntactic relation of coreferring terms. (shrink)
This article had its beginning with Einstein's 1919 paper "Do gravitational fields play an essential role in the structure of elementary particles?" Together with General Relativity's statement that gravity is not a pull but is a push caused by the curvature of space-time, a hypothesis for Earth's ocean tides was developed that does not solely depend on the Sun and Moon as Kepler and Newton believed. It also borrows from Galileo. The breakup of planets and asteroids by white dwarfs, neutron (...) stars or black holes is popularly ascribed by today's science to tidal forces (gravitation emanating from the stellar body and having a greater effect on the near side of a planet/asteroid than the farthest side). Remembering Einstein's 1919 paper, it was apparent that my revised idea of tidal forces improves on current accounts because it views matter and mass as unified with space-time whose curvature is gravitation. Unification is a necessity for modern science's developing view of one united and entangled universe – expressed in the Unified Field Theory, the Theory of Everything, String theory and Loop Quantum Gravity. The writing of this article was also assisted by visualizing the gravitational fields forming space-time being themselves formed by a multitude of weak and presently undetectable gravitational waves. The final part of this article concludes that the section BITS AND TOPOLOGY will lead to the conclusions in ETERNAL LIFE, WORLD PEACE AND PHYSICS' UNIFICATION. The final part also compares cosmology to biological enzymes and biology's substrate of reacting "chemicals" - using virtual particles, hidden variables, gravitation, electromagnetism, electronics’ binary digits, plus topology’s Mobius strip and figure-8 Klein bottle. The product is mass - enzyme, substrate and product are all considered mathematical in nature. Also, gravitation and electromagnetism are united using logic and topology – showing there’s no need in this article for things like mathematical formalism, field equations or tensor calculus. (shrink)
It may be a myth that Plato wrote over the entrance to the Academy “Let no-one ignorant of geometry enter here.” But it is a well-chosen motto for his view in the Republic that mathematical training is especially productive of understanding in abstract realms, notably ethics. That view is sound and we should return to it. Ethical theory has been bedevilled by the idea that ethics is fundamentally about actions (right and wrong, rights, duties, virtues, dilemmas and so on). That (...) is an error like the one Plato mentions of thinking mathematics is about actions (of adding, constructing, extracting roots and so on). Mathematics is about eternal relations between universals, such as the ratio of the diagonal of a square to the side. Ethics too is about eternal verities, such as the equal worth of persons and just distributions. Mathematical and ethical verities do both constrain actions, such as the possibility of walking over the seven bridges of Königsberg once and once only or of justly discriminating between races. But they are not themselves about action. In principle, neither mathematical nor ethical verities are subject to historical forces or disagreement among tribes (though they can be better understood as time goes on). Plato is right: immersion in mathematics induces an understanding of the necessities underpinning reality, an understanding that is essential for distinguishing objective ethics from tribal custom. Equality, for example, is an abstract concept which is foundational for both mathematics and ethics. (shrink)
In this dissertation on Hilary Putnam's philosophy, I investigate his development regarding meaning and necessity, in particular mathematical necessity. Putnam has been a leading American philosopher since the end of the 1950s, becoming famous in the 1960s within the school of analytic philosophy, associated in particular with the philosophy of science and the philosophy of language. Under the influence of W.V. Quine, Putnam challenged the logical positivism/empiricism that had become strong in America after World War II, with influential (...) exponents such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach. Putnam agreed with Quine that there are no absolute a priori truths. In particular, he was critical of the notion of truth by convention. Instead he developed a notion of relative a priori truth, that is, a notion of necessary truth with respect to a body of knowledge, or a conceptual scheme. Putnam's position on necessity has developed over the years and has always been connected to his important contributions to the philosophy of meaning. I study Hilary Putnam's development through an early phase of scientific realism, a middle phase of internal realism, and his later position of a natural or commonsense realism. I challenge some of Putnam’s ideas on mathematical necessity, although I have largely defended his views against some other contemporary major philosophers; for instance, I defend his conceptual relativism, his conceptual pluralism, as well as his analysis of the realism/anti-realism debate. (shrink)
(Longer version - work in progress) Various accounts of distinctively mathematical explanations (DMEs) of complex systems have been proposed recently which bypass the contingent causal laws and appeal primarily to mathematical necessities constraining the system. These necessities are considered to be modally exalted in that they obtain with a greater necessity than the ordinary laws of nature (Lange 2016). This paper focuses on DMEs of the number of equilibrium positions of n-tuple pendulum systems and considers several different DMEs of (...) these systems which bypass causal features. It then argues that there is a tension between the modal strength of these DMEs and their epistemic hooking, and we are forced to choose between (a) a purported DME with greater modal strength and wider applicability but poor epistemic hooking, or (b) a narrowly applicable DME with lesser modal strength but with the right kind of epistemic hooking. It also aims to show why some kind of DMEs may be unappealing for working scientists despite their strong modality, and why some DMEs fail to be modally robust because of making ill-informed assumptions about their target systems. The broader goal is to show why such tensions weaken the case for DMEs for pendulum systems in general. (shrink)
Properties and relations in general have a certain degree of invariance, and some types of properties/relations have a stronger degree of invariance than others. In this paper I will show how the degrees of invariance of different types of properties are associated with, and explain, the modal force of the laws governing them. This explains differences in the modal force of laws/principles of different disciplines, starting with logic and mathematics and proceeding to physics and biology.
It is generally agreed that using lethal or otherwise serious force in self-defense is justified only when three conditions are satisfied: first, there are some grounds for the defender to give priority to his own interests over those of the attacker (whether because the attacker has lost the protection of his right to life, for example, or because of the defender’s prerogative to prefer himself to others); second, the harm used is proportionate to the threat thereby averted; third, the harm (...) is necessary to avert that threat. The first and second conditions have been exhaustively discussed, but the third has been oddly neglected. Meanwhile a prominent school of thought has arisen, in the ethics of war, which seeks to ground the justification of killing in war in principles of individual self-defense. They too have failed to offer any substantive analysis of necessity, while at the same time appealing to it when it suits them to do so. In this paper, I attempt a detailed analysis of the necessity constraint on defensive force, and explore the implications of that analysis for the attempt to transpose principles of individual self-defense into the context of warfare. (shrink)
Kant argued that Euclidean geometry is synthesized on the basis of an a priori intuition of space. This proposal inspired much behavioral research probing whether spatial navigation in humans and animals conforms to the predictions of Euclidean geometry. However, Euclidean geometry also includes concepts that transcend the perceptible, such as objects that are infinitely small or infinitely large, or statements of necessity and impossibility. We tested the hypothesis that certain aspects of nonperceptible Euclidian geometry map onto intuitions of space (...) that are present in all humans, even in the absence of formal mathematical education. Our tests probed intuitions of points, lines, and surfaces in participants from an indigene group in the Amazon, the Mundurucu, as well as adults and age-matched children controls from the United States and France and younger US children without education in geometry. The responses of Mundurucu adults and children converged with that of mathematically educated adults and children and revealed an intuitive understanding of essential properties of Euclidean geometry. For instance, on a surface described to them as perfectly planar, the Mundurucu's estimations of the internal angles of triangles added up to ∼180 degrees, and when asked explicitly, they stated that there exists one single parallel line to any given line through a given point. These intuitions were also partially in place in the group of younger US participants. We conclude that, during childhood, humans develop geometrical intuitions that spontaneously accord with the principles of Euclidean geometry, even in the absence of training in mathematics. (shrink)
The INBIOSA project brings together a group of experts across many disciplines who believe that science requires a revolutionary transformative step in order to address many of the vexing challenges presented by the world. It is INBIOSA’s purpose to enable the focused collaboration of an interdisciplinary community of original thinkers. This paper sets out the case for support for this effort. The focus of the transformative research program proposal is biology-centric. We admit that biology to date has been more fact-oriented (...) and less theoretical than physics. However, the key leverageable idea is that careful extension of the science of living systems can be more effectively applied to some of our most vexing modern problems than the prevailing scheme, derived from abstractions in physics. While these have some universal application and demonstrate computational advantages, they are not theoretically mandated for the living. A new set of mathematical abstractions derived from biology can now be similarly extended. This is made possible by leveraging new formal tools to understand abstraction and enable computability. [The latter has a much expanded meaning in our context from the one known and used in computer science and biology today, that is "by rote algorithmic means", since it is not known if a living system is computable in this sense (Mossio et al., 2009).] Two major challenges constitute the effort. The first challenge is to design an original general system of abstractions within the biological domain. The initial issue is descriptive leading to the explanatory. There has not yet been a serious formal examination of the abstractions of the biological domain. What is used today is an amalgam; much is inherited from physics (via the bridging abstractions of chemistry) and there are many new abstractions from advances in mathematics (incentivized by the need for more capable computational analyses). Interspersed are abstractions, concepts and underlying assumptions “native” to biology and distinct from the mechanical language of physics and computation as we know them. A pressing agenda should be to single out the most concrete and at the same time the most fundamental process-units in biology and to recruit them into the descriptive domain. Therefore, the first challenge is to build a coherent formal system of abstractions and operations that is truly native to living systems. Nothing will be thrown away, but many common methods will be philosophically recast, just as in physics relativity subsumed and reinterpreted Newtonian mechanics. -/- This step is required because we need a comprehensible, formal system to apply in many domains. Emphasis should be placed on the distinction between multi-perspective analysis and synthesis and on what could be the basic terms or tools needed. The second challenge is relatively simple: the actual application of this set of biology-centric ways and means to cross-disciplinary problems. In its early stages, this will seem to be a “new science”. This White Paper sets out the case of continuing support of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for transformative research in biology and information processing centered on paradigm changes in the epistemological, ontological, mathematical and computational bases of the science of living systems. Today, curiously, living systems cannot be said to be anything more than dissipative structures organized internally by genetic information. There is not anything substantially different from abiotic systems other than the empirical nature of their robustness. We believe that there are other new and unique properties and patterns comprehensible at this bio-logical level. The report lays out a fundamental set of approaches to articulate these properties and patterns, and is composed as follows. -/- Sections 1 through 4 (preamble, introduction, motivation and major biomathematical problems) are incipient. Section 5 describes the issues affecting Integral Biomathics and Section 6 -- the aspects of the Grand Challenge we face with this project. Section 7 contemplates the effort to formalize a General Theory of Living Systems (GTLS) from what we have today. The goal is to have a formal system, equivalent to that which exists in the physics community. Here we define how to perceive the role of time in biology. Section 8 describes the initial efforts to apply this general theory of living systems in many domains, with special emphasis on crossdisciplinary problems and multiple domains spanning both “hard” and “soft” sciences. The expected result is a coherent collection of integrated mathematical techniques. Section 9 discusses the first two test cases, project proposals, of our approach. They are designed to demonstrate the ability of our approach to address “wicked problems” which span across physics, chemistry, biology, societies and societal dynamics. The solutions require integrated measurable results at multiple levels known as “grand challenges” to existing methods. Finally, Section 10 adheres to an appeal for action, advocating the necessity for further long-term support of the INBIOSA program. -/- The report is concluded with preliminary non-exclusive list of challenging research themes to address, as well as required administrative actions. The efforts described in the ten sections of this White Paper will proceed concurrently. Collectively, they describe a program that can be managed and measured as it progresses. (shrink)
This paper aims to show that—and how—Plato’s notion of the receptacle in the Timaeus provides the conditions for developing a mathematical as well as a physical space without itself being space. In response to the debate whether Plato’s receptacle is a conception of space or of matter, I suggest employing criteria from topology and the theory of metric spaces as the most basic ones available. I show that the receptacle fulfils its main task–allowing the elements qua images of the Forms (...) to exist as sensible things by being that in which the elements appear, change and move–in virtue of being pure continuity. All further qualifications required for a full notion of space are derived solely from the content of the receptacle. (shrink)
Mathematicians distinguish between proofs that explain their results and those that merely prove. This paper explores the nature of explanatory proofs, their role in mathematical practice, and some of the reasons why philosophers should care about them. Among the questions addressed are the following: what kinds of proofs are generally explanatory (or not)? What makes a proof explanatory? Do all mathematical explanations involve proof in an essential way? Are there really such things as explanatory proofs, and if so, how do (...) they relate to the sorts of explanation encountered in philosophy of science and metaphysics? (shrink)
This article will consider imagination in mathematics from a historical point of view, noting the key moments in its conception during the ancient, modern and contemporary eras.
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)
The literature on mathematics suggests that intuition plays a role in it as a ground of belief. This article explores the nature of intuition as it occurs in mathematical thinking. Section 1 suggests that intuitions should be understood by analogy with perceptions. Section 2 explains what fleshing out such an analogy requires. Section 3 discusses Kantian ways of fleshing it out. Section 4 discusses Platonist ways of fleshing it out. Section 5 sketches a proposal for resolving the main problem (...) facing Platonists—the problem of explaining how our experiences make contact with mathematical reality. (shrink)
The term ‘continuous’ in real analysis wasn’t given an adequate formal definition until 1817. However, important theorems about continuity were proven long before that. How was this possible? In this paper, I introduce and refine a proposed answer to this question, derived from the work of Frank Jackson, David Lewis and other proponents of the ‘Canberra plan’. In brief, the proposal is that before 1817 the meaning of the term ‘continuous’ was determined by a number of ‘platitudes’ which had some (...) special epistemic status. (shrink)
A generally ignored feature of Plato’s celebrated image of the cave in Republic VII is that the ascent from the cave is, in its initial stages, said to be brought about by force. What kind of ‘force’ is this, and why is it necessary? This paper considers three possible interpretations, and argues that each may have a role to play.
The famous Cartesian Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) espoused the occasionalist doctrine that ‘there is only one true cause because there is only one true God; that the nature or power of each thing is nothing but the will of God; that all natural causes are not true causes but only occasional causes’ (LO, 448, original italics). One of Malebranche’s well-known arguments for occasionalism, known as, the ‘no necessary connection’ argument (or, NNC ) stems from the principle that ‘a true cause… is (...) one such that the mind perceives a necessary connection between it and its effect’ (LO, 450). The outline of this paper is as follows. I explicitly layout NNC and articulate some of its prima facie strengths (§1). I then critically discuss, what I take to be, the two main arguments against NNC of the Lee-Pyle interpretation (§2). The main conclusion from (§2) is that Malebranche did not abandon NNC in his later works given textual evidence from the Dialogues, contrary to the Lee-Pyle interpretation. In (§3) I discuss in what ways Suárez, Leibniz, Régis and Spinoza all accepted the main premise of NNC. Then, I rebut Steven Nadler’s influential and unchallenged criticism that Malebranche conflated causal and logical necessity, and provide a more accurate interpretation of Malebranche that only commits him to a partial reduction of causal to logical necessity (§4). (shrink)
A textbook on proof in mathematics, inspired by an Aristotelian point of view on mathematics and proof. The book expounds the traditional view of proof as deduction of theorems from evident premises via obviously valid steps. It deals with the proof of "all" statements, "some" statements, multiple quantifiers and mathematical induction.
I want to make sense of the view that singular causation involves a metaphysical necessary connection. By this I understand, where A and B are particulars, that ifA causes B then in every possible world in which A (or an A-indiscernible) or B (or a B-indiscernible) occurs, A (or an Aindiscernible) and B (or a B-indiscernible) occur. In the singularist approach that I will favour causal facts do not supervene on laws, causal relata are best understood as tropes, causation is (...) founded on the nature of its terms, and the necessity thus involved does not entail essentialism, determinism, and other usual problems. (shrink)
Charles Peirce's diagrammatic logic — the Existential Graphs — is presented as a tool for illuminating how we know necessity, in answer to Benacerraf's famous challenge that most ‘semantics for mathematics’ do not ‘fit an acceptable epistemology’. It is suggested that necessary reasoning is in essence a recognition that a certain structure has the particular structure that it has. This means that, contra Hume and his contemporary heirs, necessity is observable. One just needs to pay attention, not (...) merely to individual things but to how those things are related in larger structures, certain aspects of which relations force certain other aspects to be a certain way. (shrink)
The central concern of this paper is to explore the efforts of Schiller's post-Kantian idealism and Marcuse's critical theory to develop a new conception of free human experience. That conception is built on the notion of play. Play is said to combine the human capacities for physical pleasure and reason, capacities which the modern world has dualized. Analysis of their respective accounts of play reveals its ambivalent form in the work of both philosophers. Play supports the ideal of ‘freedom from (...)necessity’, understood as a release from all external constraint. But it also appears to serve as a model for ‘freedom as a higher necessity’. In the case of Schiller, the ambivalence encompasses idle play and an obligation to make ourselves worthy of freedom. For Marcuse, play represents a kind of libidinal idleness while also underpinning a non-alienated conception of labour. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This paper explores the role of aesthetic judgements in mathematics by focussing on the relationship between the epistemic and aesthetic criteria employed in such judgements, and on the nature of the psychological experiences underpinning them. I claim that aesthetic judgements in mathematics are plausibly understood as expressions of what I will call ‘aesthetic-epistemic feelings’ that serve a genuine cognitive and epistemic function. I will then propose a naturalistic account of these feelings in terms of sub-personal processes of (...) representing and assessing the relation between cognitive processes and certain properties of the stimuli at which they are directed. (shrink)
We examine some of Connes’ criticisms of Robinson’s infinitesimals starting in 1995. Connes sought to exploit the Solovay model S as ammunition against non-standard analysis, but the model tends to boomerang, undercutting Connes’ own earlier work in functional analysis. Connes described the hyperreals as both a “virtual theory” and a “chimera”, yet acknowledged that his argument relies on the transfer principle. We analyze Connes’ “dart-throwing” thought experiment, but reach an opposite conclusion. In S , all definable sets of reals are (...) Lebesgue measurable, suggesting that Connes views a theory as being “virtual” if it is not definable in a suitable model of ZFC. If so, Connes’ claim that a theory of the hyperreals is “virtual” is refuted by the existence of a definable model of the hyperreal field due to Kanovei and Shelah. Free ultrafilters aren’t definable, yet Connes exploited such ultrafilters both in his own earlier work on the classification of factors in the 1970s and 80s, and in Noncommutative Geometry, raising the question whether the latter may not be vulnerable to Connes’ criticism of virtuality. We analyze the philosophical underpinnings of Connes’ argument based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and detect an apparent circularity in Connes’ logic. We document the reliance on non-constructive foundational material, and specifically on the Dixmier trace −∫ (featured on the front cover of Connes’ magnum opus) and the Hahn–Banach theorem, in Connes’ own framework. We also note an inaccuracy in Machover’s critique of infinitesimal-based pedagogy. (shrink)
The distinction between the discrete and the continuous lies at the heart of mathematics. Discrete mathematics (arithmetic, algebra, combinatorics, graph theory, cryptography, logic) has a set of concepts, techniques, and application areas largely distinct from continuous mathematics (traditional geometry, calculus, most of functional analysis, differential equations, topology). The interaction between the two – for example in computer models of continuous systems such as fluid flow – is a central issue in the applicable mathematics of the last (...) hundred years. This article explains the distinction and why it has proved to be one of the great organizing themes of mathematics. (shrink)
Are there arguments in mathematics? Are there explanations in mathematics? Are there any connections between argument, proof and explanation? Highly controversial answers and arguments are reviewed. The main point is that in the case of a mathematical proof, the pragmatic criterion used to make a distinction between argument and explanation is likely to be insufficient for you may grant the conclusion of a proof but keep on thinking that the proof is not explanatory.
Some courses achieve existence, some have to create Professional Issues and Ethics in existence thrust upon them. It is normally Mathematics; but if you don’t do it, we will a struggle to create a course on the ethical be.” I accepted. or social aspects of science or mathematics. The gift of a greenfield site and a bull- This is the story of one that was forced to dozer is a happy occasion, undoubtedly. But exist by an unusual confluence (...) of outside cirwhat to do next? It seemed to me I should cumstances. ensure the course satisfied these require- In the mid 1990s, the University of New ments: South Wales instituted a policy that all its • It should look good to students, to staff. (shrink)
Excerpt: In this essay I explore the nature of the necessity of historical development in Nietzsche’s genealogy of Judeo-Christian moral values. I argue that the progression of moral stages in Nietzsche’s study is ordered in such a way that the failure of each stage is logically and structurally necessary, that each failure structures the resultant system or paradigm, but that the historical manifestation of moral paradigms coinciding with predicted or projected theoretical structures is contingent upon a multitude of other (...) historical factors. Therefore, the systematic internal failures of moral stages allow for, but do not cause, successive events. (shrink)
In this paper, following the claims made by various mathematicians, I try to construct a theory of levels of abstraction. I first try to clarify the basic components of the abstract method as it developed in the first quarter of the 20th century. I then submit an explication of the notion of levels of abstraction. In the final section, I briefly explore some of main philosophical consequences of the theory.
One of the most fundamental questions in the philosophy of mathematics concerns the relation between truth and formal proof. The position according to which the two concepts are the same is called deflationism, and the opposing viewpoint substantialism. In an important result of mathematical logic, Kurt Gödel proved in his first incompleteness theorem that all consistent formal systems containing arithmetic include sentences that can neither be proved nor disproved within that system. However, such undecidable Gödel sentences can be established (...) to be true once we expand the formal system with Alfred Tarski s semantical theory of truth, as shown by Stewart Shapiro and Jeffrey Ketland in their semantical arguments for the substantiality of truth. According to them, in Gödel sentences we have an explicit case of true but unprovable sentences, and hence deflationism is refuted. -/- Against that, Neil Tennant has shown that instead of Tarskian truth we can expand the formal system with a soundness principle, according to which all provable sentences are assertable, and the assertability of Gödel sentences follows. This way, the relevant question is not whether we can establish the truth of Gödel sentences, but whether Tarskian truth is a more plausible expansion than a soundness principle. In this work I will argue that this problem is best approached once we think of mathematics as the full human phenomenon, and not just consisting of formal systems. When pre-formal mathematical thinking is included in our account, we see that Tarskian truth is in fact not an expansion at all. I claim that what proof is to formal mathematics, truth is to pre-formal thinking, and the Tarskian account of semantical truth mirrors this relation accurately. -/- However, the introduction of pre-formal mathematics is vulnerable to the deflationist counterargument that while existing in practice, pre-formal thinking could still be philosophically superfluous if it does not refer to anything objective. Against this, I argue that all truly deflationist philosophical theories lead to arbitrariness of mathematics. In all other philosophical accounts of mathematics there is room for a reference of the pre-formal mathematics, and the expansion of Tarkian truth can be made naturally. Hence, if we reject the arbitrariness of mathematics, I argue in this work, we must accept the substantiality of truth. Related subjects such as neo-Fregeanism will also be covered, and shown not to change the need for Tarskian truth. -/- The only remaining route for the deflationist is to change the underlying logic so that our formal languages can include their own truth predicates, which Tarski showed to be impossible for classical first-order languages. With such logics we would have no need to expand the formal systems, and the above argument would fail. From the alternative approaches, in this work I focus mostly on the Independence Friendly (IF) logic of Jaakko Hintikka and Gabriel Sandu. Hintikka has claimed that an IF language can include its own adequate truth predicate. I argue that while this is indeed the case, we cannot recognize the truth predicate as such within the same IF language, and the need for Tarskian truth remains. In addition to IF logic, also second-order logic and Saul Kripke s approach using Kleenean logic will be shown to fail in a similar fashion. (shrink)
The paper examines Posterior Analytics II 11, 94a20-36 and makes three points. (1) The confusing formula ‘given what things, is it necessary for this to be’ [τίνων ὄντων ἀνάγκη τοῦτ᾿ εἶναι] at a21-22 introduces material cause, not syllogistic necessity. (2) When biological material necessitation is the only causal factor, Aristotle is reluctant to formalize it in syllogistic terms, and this helps to explain why, in II 11, he turns to geometry in order to illustrate a kind of material cause (...) that can be expressed as the middle term of an explanatory syllogism. (3) If geometrical proof is viewed as a complex construction built on simpler constructions, it can in effect be described as a case of purely material constitution. (shrink)
CORCORAN RECOMMENDS COCCHIARELLA ON TYPE THEORY. The 1983 review in Mathematical Reviews 83e:03005 of: Cocchiarella, Nino “The development of the theory of logical types and the notion of a logical subject in Russell's early philosophy: Bertrand Russell's early philosophy, Part I”. Synthese 45 (1980), no. 1, 71-115 .
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)
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)
Mathematicians often speak of conjectures, yet unproved, as probable or well-confirmed by evidence. The Riemann Hypothesis, for example, is widely believed to be almost certainly true. There seems no initial reason to distinguish such probability from the same notion in empirical science. Yet it is hard to see how there could be probabilistic relations between the necessary truths of pure mathematics. The existence of such logical relations, short of certainty, is defended using the theory of logical probability (or objective (...) Bayesianism or non-deductive logic), and some detailed examples of its use in mathematics surveyed. Examples of inductive reasoning in experimental mathematics are given and it is argued that the problem of induction is best appreciated in the mathematical case. (shrink)
We examine the influence of word choices on mathematical practice, i.e. in developing definitions, theorems, and proofs. As a case study, we consider Euclid’s and Euler’s word choices in their influential developments of geometry and, in particular, their use of the term ‘polyhedron’. Then, jumping to the twentieth century, we look at word choices surrounding the use of the term ‘polyhedron’ in the work of Coxeter and of Grünbaum. We also consider a recent and explicit conflict of approach between Grünbaum (...) and Shephard on the one hand and that of Hilton and Pedersen on the other, elucidating that the conflict was engendered by disagreement over the proper conceptualization, and so also the appropriate word choices, in the study of polyhedra. (shrink)
In this work I study the main tenets of the logicist philosophy of mathematics. I deal, basically, with two problems: (1) To what extent can one dispense with intuition in mathematics? (2) What is the appropriate logic for the purposes of logicism? By means of my considerations I try to determine the pros and cons of logicism. My standpoint favors the logicist line of thought. -/- .
Three-dimensional material models of molecules were used throughout the 19th century, either functioning as a mere representation or opening new epistemic horizons. In this paper, two case studies are examined: the 1875 models of van ‘t Hoff and the 1890 models of Sachse. What is unique in these two case studies is that both models were not only folded, but were also conceptualized mathematically. When viewed in light of the chemical research of that period not only were both of these (...) aspects, considered in their singularity, exceptional, but also taken together may be thought of as a subversion of the way molecules were chemically investigated in the 19th century. Concentrating on this unique shared characteristic in the models of van ‘t Hoff and the models of Sachse, this paper deals with the shifts and displacements between their operational methods and existence: between their technical and epistemological aspects and the fact that they were folded, which was forgotten or simply ignored in the subsequent development of chemistry. (shrink)
Hume appeals to different kinds of certainties and necessities in the Treatise. He contrasts the certainty that arises from intuition and demonstrative reasoning with the certainty that arises from causal reasoning. He denies that the causal maxim is absolutely or metaphysically necessary, but he nonetheless takes the causal maxim and ‘proofs’ to be necessary. The focus of this paper is the certainty and necessity involved in Hume’s concept of knowledge. I defend the view that intuitive certainty, in particular, is (...) certainty of the invariability or necessity of relations between ideas. Against David Owen and Helen Beebee, I argue that the certainty involved in intuition depends on the activity of the mind. I argue, further, that understanding this activity helps us understand more clearly one of Hume’s most important theses, namely that experience is the source of a distinct kind of certainty and of necessity. (shrink)
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