A central area of current philosophical debate in the foundations of mathematics concerns whether or not there is a single, maximal, universe of set theory. Universists maintain that there is such a universe, while Multiversists argue that there are many universes, no one of which is ontologically privileged. Often forcing constructions that add subsets to models are cited as evidence in favour of the latter. This paper informs this debate by analysing ways the Universist might interpret this discourse that seems (...) to necessitate the addition of subsets to V. We argue that despite the prima facie incoherence of such talk for the Universist, she nonetheless has reason to try and provide interpretation of this discourse. We analyse extant interpretations of such talk, and analyse various tradeoffs in naturality that might be made. We conclude that the Universist has promising options for interpreting different forcing constructions. (shrink)
A central area of current philosophical debate in the foundations of mathematics concerns whether or not there is a single, maximal, universe of set theory. Universists maintain that there is such a universe, while Multiversists argue that there are many universes, no one of which is ontologically privileged. Often model-theoretic constructions that add sets to models are cited as evidence in favour of the latter. This paper informs this debate by developing a way for a Universist to interpret talk that (...) seems to necessitate the addition of sets to V. We argue that, despite the prima facie incoherence of such talk for the Universist, she nonetheless has reason to try and provide interpretation of this discourse. We present a method of interpreting extension-talk (V-logic), and show how it captures satisfaction in `ideal' outer models and relates to impredicative class theories. We provide some reasons to regard the technique as philosophically virtuous, and argue that it opens new doors to philosophical and mathematical discussions for the Universist. (shrink)
Zero provides a challenge for philosophers of mathematics with realist inclinations. On the one hand it is a bona fide cardinal number, yet on the other it is linked to ideas of nothingness and non-being. This paper provides an analysis of the epistemology and metaphysics of zero. We develop several constraints and then argue that a satisfactory account of zero can be obtained by integrating an account of numbers as properties of collections, work on the philosophy of absences, and recent (...) work in numerical cognition and ontogenetic studies. (shrink)
In the contemporary philosophy of set theory, discussion of new axioms that purport to resolve independence necessitates an explanation of how they come to be justified. Ordinarily, justification is divided into two broad kinds: intrinsic justification relates to how `intuitively plausible' an axiom is, whereas extrinsic justification supports an axiom by identifying certain `desirable' consequences. This paper puts pressure on how this distinction is formulated and construed. In particular, we argue that the distinction as often presented is neither well-demarcated nor (...) sufficiently precise. Instead, we suggest that the process of justification in set theory should not be thought of as neatly divisible in this way, but should rather be understood as a conceptually indivisible notion linked to the goal of explanation. (shrink)
A long tradition in theology holds that the divine is in some sense incomprehensible, ineffable, or indescribable. This is mirrored in the set-theoretic literature by those who hold that the universe of sets is incomprehensible, ineffable, or indescribable. In this latter field, set theorists often study reflection principles; axioms that posit indescribability properties of the universe. This paper seeks to examine a theological reflection principle, which can be used to deliver a very rich ontology. I argue that in analogy with (...) set-theoretic reflection principles, we should understand theological reflection via schematic commitment. (shrink)
Let's suppose you think that there are no uncountable sets. Have you adopted a restrictive position? It is certainly tempting to say yes---you've prohibited the existence of certain kinds of large set. This paper argues that this intuition can be challenged. Instead, I argue that there are some considerations based on a formal notion of restrictiveness which suggest that it is restrictive to hold that there are uncountable sets.
Multiverse Views in set theory advocate the claim that there are many universes of sets, no-one of which is canonical, and have risen to prominence over the last few years. One motivating factor is that such positions are often argued to account very elegantly for technical practice. While there is much discussion of the technical aspects of these views, in this paper I analyse a radical form of Multiversism on largely philosophical grounds. Of particular importance will be an account of (...) reference on the Multiversist conception, and the relativism that it implies. I argue that analysis of this central issue in the Philosophy of Mathematics indicates that Radical Multiversism must be algebraic, and cannot be viewed as an attempt to provide an account of reference without a softening of the position. (shrink)
Discussion of new axioms for set theory has often focused on conceptions of maximality, and how these might relate to the iterative conception of set. This paper provides critical appraisal of how certain maximality axioms behave on different conceptions of ontology concerning the iterative conception. In particular, we argue that forms of multiversism and actualism face complementary problems. The latter view is unable to use maximality axioms that make use of extensions, where the former has to contend with the existence (...) of extensions violating maximality axioms. An analysis of two kinds of multiversism, a Zermelian form and Skolemite form, leads to the conclusion that the kind of maximality captured by an axiom differs substantially according to background ontology. (shrink)
Let mathematical justification be the kind of justification obtained when a mathematician provides a proof of a theorem. Are Gettier cases possible for this kind of justification? At first sight we might think not: The standard for mathematical justification is proof and, since proof is bound at the hip with truth, there is no possibility of having an epistemically lucky justification of a true mathematical proposition. In this paper, I argue that Gettier cases are possible (and indeed actual) in mathematical (...) reasoning. By analysing these cases, I suggest that the Gettier phenomenon indicates some upshots for actual mathematical practice. (shrink)
Often philosophers, logicians, and mathematicians employ a notion of intended structure when talking about a branch of mathematics. In addition, we know that there are foundational mathematical theories that can find representatives for the objects of informal mathematics. In this paper, we examine how faithfully foundational theories can represent intended structures, and show that this question is closely linked to the decidability of the theory of the intended structure. We argue that this sheds light on the trade-off between expressive power (...) and meta-theoretic properties when comparing first-order and second-order logic. (shrink)
It is standard in set theory to assume that Cantor's Theorem establishes that the continuum is an uncountable set. A challenge for this position comes from the observation that through forcing one can collapse any cardinal to the countable and that the continuum can be made arbitrarily large. In this paper, we present a different take on the relationship between Cantor's Theorem and extensions of universes, arguing that they can be seen as showing that every set is countable and that (...) the continuum is a proper class. We examine several principles based on maximality considerations in this framework, and show how some (namely Ordinal Inner Model Hypotheses) enable us to incorporate standard set theories (including ZFC with large cardinals added). We conclude that the systems considered raise questions concerning the foundational purposes of set theory. (shrink)
Much of the discussion of set-theoretic independence, and whether or not we could legitimately expand our foundational theory, concerns how we could possibly come to know the truth value of independent sentences. This paper pursues a slightly different tack, examining how we are ignorant of issues surrounding their truth. We argue that a study of how we are ignorant reveals a need for an understanding of set-theoretic explanation and motivates a pluralism concerning the adoption of foundational theory.
We explain and explore class-theoretic potentialism---the view that one can always individuate more classes over a set-theoretic universe. We examine some motivations for class-theoretic potentialism, before proving some results concerning the relevant potentialist systems (in particular exhibiting failures of the .2 and .3 axioms). We then discuss the significance of these results for the different kinds of class-theoretic potentialist.
In this article, I survey some philosophical attitudes to talk concerning `the' universe of sets. I separate out four different strands of the debate, namely: (i) Universism, (ii) Multiversism, (iii) Potentialism, and (iv) Pluralism. I discuss standard arguments and counterarguments concerning the positions and some of the natural mathematical programmes that are suggested by the various views.
A pervasive thought in contemporary philosophy of mathematics is that in order to justify reflection principles, one must hold universism: the view that there is a single universe of pure sets. I challenge this kind of reasoning by contrasting universism with a Zermelian form of multiversism. I argue that if extant justifications of reflection principles using notions of richness are acceptable for the universist, then the Zermelian can use similar justifications. However, I note that for some forms of richness argument, (...) the status of reflection principles as axioms is left open for the Zermelian. (shrink)
The independence phenomenon in set theory, while pervasive, can be partially addressed through the use of large cardinal axioms. A commonly assumed idea is that large cardinal axioms are species of maximality principles. In this paper, I argue that whether or not large cardinal axioms count as maximality principles depends on prior commitments concerning the richness of the subset forming operation. In particular I argue that there is a conception of maximality through absoluteness, on which large cardinal axioms are restrictive. (...) I argue, however, that large cardinals are still important axioms of set theory and can play many of their usual foundational roles. (shrink)
Informal rigour is the process by which we come to understand particular mathematical structures and then manifest this rigour through axiomatisations. Structural relativity is the idea that the kinds of structures we isolate are dependent upon the logic we employ. We bring together these ideas by considering the level of informal rigour exhibited by our set-theoretic discourse, and argue that different foundational programmes should countenance different underlying logics (intermediate between first- and second-order) for formulating set theory. By bringing considerations of (...) perturbations in modal space to bear on the debate, we will suggest that a promising option for representing current set-theoretic thought is given by formulating set theory using quasi-weak second-order logic. These observations indicate that the usual division of structures into \particular (e.g. the natural number structure) and general (e.g. the group structure) is perhaps too coarse grained; we should also make a distinction between intentionally and unintentionally general structures. (shrink)
We introduce and consider the inner-model reflection principle, which asserts that whenever a statement \varphi(a) in the first-order language of set theory is true in the set-theoretic universe V, then it is also true in a proper inner model W \subset A. A stronger principle, the ground-model reflection principle, asserts that any such \varphi(a) true in V is also true in some non-trivial ground model of the universe with respect to set forcing. These principles each express a form of width (...) reflection in contrast to the usual height reflection of the Lévy–Montague reflection theorem. They are each equiconsistent with ZFC and indeed \Pi_2-conservative over ZFC, being forceable by class forcing while preserving any desired rank-initial segment of the universe. Furthermore, the inner-model reflection principle is a consequence of the existence of sufficient large cardinals, and lightface formulations of the reflection principles follow from the maximality principle MP and from the inner-model hypothesis IMH. We also consider some questions concerning the expressibility of the principles. (shrink)
Set-theoretic and category-theoretic foundations represent different perspectives on mathematical subject matter. In particular, category-theoretic language focusses on properties that can be determined up to isomorphism within a category, whereas set theory admits of properties determined by the internal structure of the membership relation. Various objections have been raised against this aspect of set theory in the category-theoretic literature. In this article, we advocate a methodological pluralism concerning the two foundational languages, and provide a theory that fruitfully interrelates a `structural' perspective (...) to a set-theoretic one. We present a set-theoretic system that is able to talk about structures more naturally, and argue that it provides an important perspective on plausibly structural properties such as cardinality. We conclude the language of set theory can provide useful information about the notion of mathematical structure. (shrink)
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