In formal ontology, infinite regresses are generally considered a bad sign. One debate where such regresses come into play is the debate about fundamentality. Arguments in favour of some type of fundamentalism are many, but they generally share the idea that infinite chains of ontological dependence must be ruled out. Some motivations for this view are assessed in this article, with the conclusion that such infinite chains may not always be vicious. Indeed, there may even be room (...) for a type of fundamentalism combined with infinite descent as long as this descent is “boring,” that is, the same structure repeats ad infinitum. A start is made in the article towards a systematic account of this type of infinite descent. The philosophical prospects and scientific tenability of the account are briefly evaluated using an example from physics. (shrink)
People with the kind of preferences that give rise to the St. Petersburg paradox are problematic---but not because there is anything wrong with infinite utilities. Rather, such people cannot assign the St. Petersburg gamble any value that any kind of outcome could possibly have. Their preferences also violate an infinitary generalization of Savage's Sure Thing Principle, which we call the *Countable Sure Thing Principle*, as well as an infinitary generalization of von Neumann and Morgenstern's Independence axiom, which we call (...) *Countable Independence*. In violating these principles, they display foibles like those of people who deviate from standard expected utility theory in more mundane cases: they choose dominated strategies, pay to avoid information, and reject expert advice. We precisely characterize the preference relations that satisfy Countable Independence in several equivalent ways: a structural constraint on preferences, a representation theorem, and the principle we began with, that every prospect has a value that some outcome could have. (shrink)
This article discusses how the concept of a fair finite lottery can best be extended to denumerably infinite lotteries. Techniques and ideas from non-standard analysis are brought to bear on the problem.
A common argument for atheism runs as follows: God would not create a world worse than other worlds he could have created instead. However, if God exists, he could have created a better world than this one. Therefore, God does not exist. In this paper I challenge the second premise of this argument. I argue that if God exists, our world will continue without end, with God continuing to create value-bearers, and sustaining and perfecting the value-bearers he has already created. (...) Given this, if God exists, our world—considered on the whole—is infinitely valuable. I further contend that this theistic picture makes our world's value unsurpassable. In support of this contention, I consider proposals for how infinitely valuable worlds might be improved upon, focusing on two main ways—adding value-bearers and increasing the value in present value-bearers. I argue that neither of these can improve our world. Depending on how each method is understood, either it would not improve our world, or our world is unsurpassable with respect to it. I conclude by considering the implications of my argument for the problem of evil more generally conceived. (shrink)
This paper uses a schema for infinite regress arguments to provide a solution to the problem of the infinite regress of justification. The solution turns on the falsity of two claims: that a belief is justified only if some belief is a reason for it, and that the reason relation is transitive.
Suppose we wish to decide which of a pair of actions has better consequences in a case in which both actions result in infinite utility. Peter Vallentyne and others have proposed that one action has better consequences than a second if there is a time after which the cumulative utility of the first action always outstrips the cumulative utility of the second. I argue against this principle, in particular I show how cases may arise in which up to any (...) point of time action a1 produces more utility than action a2, yet for each individual involved a2 produces more utility. (shrink)
My two principal aims in this essay are interconnected. One aim is to provide a new interpretation of the ‘infinite modes’ in Spinoza’s Ethics. I argue that for Spinoza, God, conceived as the one infinite and eternal substance, is not to be understood as causing two kinds of modes, some infinite and eternal and the rest finite and non-eternal. That there cannot be such a bifurcation of divine effects is what I take the ‘infinite mode’ propositions, (...) E1p21–23, to establish; E1p21–23 show that each and every one of the immanent effects of an infinite and eternal God is an infinite and eternal mode. The other aim is to show that these propositions can be understood as part of an extended critical response to Descartes’s infamous doctrine that God creates eternal truths and true and immutable natures. If we have the correct (Spinozan) conceptions of what God is and how God works, we see that an eternal and infinite God can only be understood to cause ‘eternal truths,’ and that these eternal truths are infinite and eternal modes of God. (shrink)
In this paper, I suggest that infinite numbers are large finite numbers, and that infinite numbers, properly understood, are 1) of the structure omega + (omega* + omega)Ө + omega*, and 2) the part is smaller than the whole. I present an explanation of these claims in terms of epistemic limitations. I then consider the importance, part of which is demonstrating the contradiction that lies at the heart of Cantorian set theory: the natural numbers are too large to (...) be counted by any finite number, but too small to be counted by any infinite number – there is no number of natural numbers. (shrink)
This paper aims to show that a proper understanding of what Leibniz meant by “hypercategorematic infinite” sheds light on some fundamental aspects of his conceptions of God and of the relationship between God and created simple substances or monads. After revisiting Leibniz’s distinction between (i) syncategorematic infinite, (ii) categorematic infinite, and (iii) actual infinite, I examine his claim that the hypercategorematic infinite is “God himself” in conjunction with other key statements about God. I then discuss (...) the issue of whether the hypercategorematic infinite is a “whole”, comparing the four kinds of infinite outlined by Leibniz in 1706 with the three degrees of infinity outlined in 1676. In the last section, I discuss the relationship between the hypercategorematic infinite and created simple substances. I conclude that, for Leibniz, only a being beyond all determinations but eminently embracing all determinations can enjoy the pure positivity of what is truly infinite while constituting the ontological grounding of all things. (shrink)
According to one of Leibniz's theories of contingency a proposition is contingent if and only if it cannot be proved in a finite number of steps. It has been argued that this faces the Problem of Lucky Proof , namely that we could begin by analysing the concept ‘Peter’ by saying that ‘Peter is a denier of Christ and …’, thereby having proved the proposition ‘Peter denies Christ’ in a finite number of steps. It also faces a more general but (...) related problem that we dub the Problem of Guaranteed Proof . We argue that Leibniz has an answer to these problems since for him one has not proved that ‘Peter denies Christ’ unless one has also proved that ‘Peter’ is a consistent concept, an impossible task since it requires the full decomposition of the infinite concept ‘Peter’. We defend this view from objections found in the literature and maintain that for Leibniz all truths about created individual beings are contingent. (shrink)
Drawing upon the practice of caregiving and the insights of feminist care ethics, I offer a phenomenology of caregiving through the work of Eva Feder Kittay and Emmanuel Lévinas. I argue that caregiving is a material dialectic of embodied response involving moments of leveling, attention, and interruption. In this light, the Levinasian opposition between responding to another's singularity and leveling it via parity-based principles is belied in the experience of care. Contra much of response ethics’ and care ethics’ respective literatures, (...) this dialectic suggests that they are complementary in ways that productively illuminate themes of each. I conclude by suggesting that when response and care ethics are thought together through the experience of caregiving, such labors produce finite responsibility with infinite hope. (shrink)
Context: The infinite has long been an area of philosophical and mathematical investigation. There are many puzzles and paradoxes that involve the infinite. Problem: The goal of this paper is to answer the question: Which objects are the infinite numbers (when order is taken into account)? Though not currently considered a problem, I believe that it is of primary importance to identify properly the infinite numbers. Method: The main method that I employ is conceptual analysis. In (...) particular, I argue that the infinite numbers should be as much like the finite numbers as possible. Results: Using finite numbers as our guide to the infinite numbers, it follows that infinite numbers are of the structure w + (w* + w) a + w*. This same structure also arises when a large finite number is under investigation. Implications: A first implication of the paper is that infinite numbers may be large finite numbers that have not been investigated fully. A second implication is that there is no number of finite numbers. Third, a number of paradoxes of the infinite are resolved. One change that should occur as a result of these findings is that “infinitely many” should refer to structures of the form w + (w* + w) a + w*; in contrast, there are “indefinitely many” natural numbers. Constructivist content: The constructivist perspective of the paper is a form of strict finitism. (shrink)
This book examines the philosophy of the nineteenth-century Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna and brings him into dialogue with Western philosophers of religion, primarily in the recent analytic tradition. Sri Ramakrishna’s expansive conception of God as the impersonal-personal Infinite Reality, Maharaj argues, opens up an entirely new paradigm for addressing central topics in the philosophy of religion, including divine infinitude, religious diversity, the nature and epistemology of mystical experience, and the problem of evil.
According to Leibniz’s infinite-analysis account of contingency, any derivative truth is contingent if and only if it does not admit of a finite proof. Following a tradition that goes back at least as far as Bertrand Russell, several interpreters have been tempted to explain this biconditional in terms of two other principles: first, that a derivative truth is contingent if and only if it contains infinitely complex concepts and, second, that a derivative truth contains infinitely complex concepts if and (...) only if it does not admit of a finite proof. A consequence of this interpretation is that Leibniz’s infinite-analysis account of contingency falls prey to Robert Adams’s Problem of Lucky Proof. I will argue that this interpretation is mistaken and that, once it is properly understood how the idea of an infinite proof fits into Leibniz’s circle of modal notions, the problem of lucky proof simply disappears. (shrink)
We argue that C. Darwin and more recently W. Hennig worked at times under the simplifying assumption of an eternal biosphere. So motivated, we explicitly consider the consequences which follow mathematically from this assumption, and the infinite graphs it leads to. This assumption admits certain clusters of organisms which have some ideal theoretical properties of species, shining some light onto the species problem. We prove a dualization of a law of T.A. Knight and C. Darwin, and sketch a decomposition (...) result involving the internodons of D. Kornet, J. Metz and H. Schellinx. A further goal of this paper is to respond to B. Sturmfels’ question, “Can biology lead to new theorems?”. (shrink)
The purpose of this note is to contrast a Cantorian outlook with a non-Cantorian one and to present a picture that provides support for the latter. In particular, I suggest that: i) infinite hyperreal numbers are the (actual, determined) infinite numbers, ii) ω is merely potentially infinite, and iii) infinitesimals should not be used in the di Finetti lottery. Though most Cantorians will likely maintain a Cantorian outlook, the picture is meant to motivate the obvious nature of (...) the non-Cantorian outlook. (shrink)
Some environmental ethicists and economists argue that attributing infinite value to the environment is a good way to represent an absolute obligation to protect it. Others argue against modelling the value of the environment in this way: the assignment of infinite value leads to immense technical and philosophical difficulties that undermine the environmentalist project. First, there is a problem of discrimination: saving a large region of habitat is better than saving a small region; yet if both outcomes have (...)infinite value, then decision theory prescribes indifference. Second, there is a problem of swamping probabilities: an act with a small but positive probability of saving an endangered species appears to be on par with an act that has a high probability of achieving this outcome, since both have infinite expected value. Our paper shows that a relative concept of infinite value can be meaningfully defined, and provides a good model for securing the priority of the natural environment while avoiding the failures noted by sceptics about infinite value. Our claim is not that the relative infinity utility model gets every detail correct, but rather that it provides a rigorous philosophical framework for thinking about decisions affecting the environment. (shrink)
Among recent objections to Pascal's Wager, two are especially compelling. The first is that decision theory, and specifically the requirement of maximizing expected utility, is incompatible with infinite utility values. The second is that even if infinite utility values are admitted, the argument of the Wager is invalid provided that we allow mixed strategies. Furthermore, Hájek has shown that reformulations of Pascal's Wager that address these criticisms inevitably lead to arguments that are philosophically unsatisfying and historically unfaithful. Both (...) the objections and Hájek's philosophical worries disappear, however, if we represent our preferences using relative utilities rather than a one-place utility function. Relative utilities provide a conservative way to make sense of infinite value that preserves the familiar equation of rationality with the maximization of expected utility. They also provide a means of investigating a broader class of problems related to the Wager. (shrink)
A multiverse is comprised of many universes, which quickly leads to the question: How many universes? There are either finitely many or infinitely many universes. The purpose of this paper is to discuss two conceptions of infinite number and their relationship to multiverses. The first conception is the standard Cantorian view. But recent work has suggested a second conception of infinite number, on which infinite numbers behave very much like finite numbers. I will argue that that this (...) second conception of infinite number is the correct one, and analyze what this means for multiverses. (shrink)
It is possible that the world contains infinitely many agents that have positive and negative levels of well-being. Theories have been developed to ethically rank such worlds based on the well-being levels of the agents in those worlds or other qualitative properties of the worlds in question, such as the distribution of agents across spacetime. In this thesis I argue that such ethical rankings ought to be consistent with the Pareto principle, which says that if two worlds contain the same (...) agents and some agents are better off in the first world than they are in the second and no agents are worse off than they are in the second, then the first world is better than the second. I show that if we accept four axioms – the Pareto principle, transitivity, an axiom stating that populations of worlds can be permuted, and the claim that if the ‘at least as good as’ relation holds between two worlds then it holds between qualitative duplicates of this world pair – then we must conclude that there is ubiquitous incomparability between infinite worlds. I show that this is true even if the populations of infinite worlds are disjoint or overlapping, and that we cannot use any qualitative properties of world pairs to rank these worlds. Finally, I argue that this incomparability result generates puzzles for both consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories of objective and subjective permissibility. (shrink)
Kant's account of space as an infinite given magnitude in the Critique of Pure Reason is paradoxical, since infinite magnitudes go beyond the limits of possible experience. Michael Friedman's and Charles Parsons's accounts make sense of geometrical construction, but I argue that they do not resolve the paradox. I argue that metaphysical space is based on the ability of the subject to generate distinctly oriented spatial magnitudes of invariant scalar quantity through translation or rotation. The set of determinately (...) oriented, constructed geometrical spaces is a proper subset of metaphysical space, thus, metaphysical space is infinite. Kant's paradoxical doctrine of metaphysical space is necessary to reconcile his empiricism with his transcendental idealism. (shrink)
Discusses Frege's formal definitions and characterizations of infinite and finite sets. Speculates that Frege might have discovered the "oddity" in Dedekind's famous proof that all infinite sets are Dedekind infinite and, in doing so, stumbled across an axiom of countable choice.
Throughout history, almost all mathematicians, physicists and philosophers have been of the opinion that space and time are infinitely divisible. That is, it is usually believed that space and time do not consist of atoms, but that any piece of space and time of non-zero size, however small, can itself be divided into still smaller parts. This assumption is included in geometry, as in Euclid, and also in the Euclidean and non- Euclidean geometries used in modern physics. Of the few (...) who have denied that space and time are infinitely divisible, the most notable are the ancient atomists, and Berkeley and Hume. All of these assert not only that space and time might be atomic, but that they must be. Infinite divisibility is, they say, impossible on purely conceptual grounds. (shrink)
The Overgeneration Argument is a prominent objection against the model-theoretic account of logical consequence for second-order languages. In previous work we have offered a reconstruction of this argument which locates its source in the conflict between the neutrality of second-order logic and its alleged entanglement with mathematics. Some cases of this conflict concern small large cardinals. In this article, we show that in these cases the conflict can be resolved by moving from a set-theoretic implementation of the model-theoretic account to (...) one which uses higher-order resources. (shrink)
By “Brentanian inner consciousness” I mean the conception of inner consciousness developed by Franz Brentano. The aim of this paper is threefold: first, to present Brentano’s account of inner consciousness; second, to discuss this account in light of the mereology outlined by Brentano himself; and third, to decide whether this account incurs an infinite regress. In this regard, I distinguish two kinds of infinite regress: external infinite regress and internal infinite regress. I contend that the most (...) plausible reading of Brentano’s account is the so-called fusion thesis, and I argue that internal infinite regress turns out to be inherent to Brentanian inner consciousness. (shrink)
In the Transcendental Ideal Kant discusses the principle of complete determination: for every object and every predicate A, the object is either determinately A or not-A. He claims this principle is synthetic, but it appears to follow from the principle of excluded middle, which is analytic. He also makes a puzzling claim in support of its syntheticity: that it represents individual objects as deriving their possibility from the whole of possibility. This raises a puzzle about why Kant regarded it as (...) synthetic, and what his explanatory claim means. I argue that the principle of complete determination does not follow from the principle of excluded middle because the externally negated or ?negative? judgement ?Not (S is P)? does not entail the internally negated or ?infinite? judgement ?S is not-P.? Kant's puzzling explanatory claim means that empirical objects are determined by the content of the totality of experience. This entails that empirical objects are completely determinate if and only if the totality of experience has a completely determinate content. I argue that it is not a priori whether experience has such a completely determinate content and thus not analytic that objects obey the principle of complete determination. (shrink)
Many epistemologists have responded to the lottery paradox by proposing formal rules according to which high probability defeasibly warrants acceptance. Douven and Williamson present an ingenious argument purporting to show that such rules invariably trivialise, in that they reduce to the claim that a probability of 1 warrants acceptance. Douven and Williamson’s argument does, however, rest upon significant assumptions – amongst them a relatively strong structural assumption to the effect that the underlying probability space is both finite and uniform. In (...) this paper, I will show that something very like Douven and Williamson’s argument can in fact survive with much weaker structural assumptions – and, in particular, can apply to infinite probability spaces. (shrink)
In Lewis reconstructs set theory using mereology and plural quantification (MPQ). In his recontruction he assumes from the beginning that there is an infinite plurality of atoms, whose size is equivalent to that of the set theoretical universe. Since this assumption is far beyond the basic axioms of mereology, it might seem that MPQ do not play any role in order to guarantee the existence of a large infinity of objects. However, we intend to demonstrate that mereology and plural (...) quantification are, in some ways, particularly relevant to a certain conception of the infinite. More precisely, though the principles of mereology and plural quantification do not guarantee the existence of an infinite number of objects, nevertheless, once the existence of any infinite object is admitted, they are able to assure the existence of an uncountable infinity of objects. So, ifMPQ were parts of logic, the implausible consequence would follow that, given a countable infinity of individuals, logic would be able to guarantee an uncountable infinity of objects. (shrink)
Several of Thomas Aquinas's proofs for the existence of God rely on the claim that causal series cannot proceed in infinitum. I argue that Aquinas has good reason to hold this claim given his conception of causation. Because he holds that effects are ontologically dependent on their causes, he holds that the relevant causal series are wholly derivative: the later members of such series serve as causes only insofar as they have been caused by and are effects of the earlier (...) members. Because the intermediate causes in such series possess causal powers only by deriving them from all the preceding causes, they need a first and non-derivative cause to serve as the source of their causal powers. (shrink)
This paper discusses an infinite regress that looms behind a certain kind of historical explanation. The movement of one barbarian group is often explained by the movement of others, but those movements in turn call for an explanation. While their explanation can again be the movement of yet another group of barbarians, if this sort of explanation does not stop somewhere we are left with an infinite regress of barbarians. While that regress would be vicious, it cannot be (...) accommodated by several general views about what viciousness in infinite regresses amounts to. This example is additional evidence that we should prefer a pluralist approach to infinite regresses. (shrink)
Consider an infinite series whose items are each explained by their immediate successor. Does such an infinite explanation explain the whole series or does it leave something to be explained? Hume arguably claimed that it does fully explain the whole series. Leibniz, however, designed a very telling objection against this claim, an objection involving an infinite series of book copies. In this paper, I argue that the Humean claim can, in certain cases, be saved from the Leibnizian (...) “infinite book copies” objection, and that this provides an interesting way to defuse some cosmological arguments for the existence of God and to give a non-theistic but complete explanation of the Universe. In the course of my argumentation, I also show that circular explanations can be “self-explanatory” as well: explaining two items by each other can explain the couple of items tout court. (shrink)
Once one accepts that certain things metaphysically depend upon, or are metaphysically explained by, other things, it is natural to begin to wonder whether these chains of dependence or explanation must come to an end. This essay surveys the work that has been done on this issue—the issue of grounding and infinite descent. I frame the discussion around two questions: (1) What is infinite descent of ground? and (2) Is infinite descent of ground possible? In addressing the (...) second question, I will consider a number of arguments that have been made for and against the possibility of infinite descent of ground. When relevant, I connect the discussion to two important views about the way reality can be structured by grounding: metaphysical foundationalism and metaphysical infinitism. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that Aristotle denies any real existence to infinity. Nothing is actually infinite. If, in order to resolve Zeno’s paradoxes, Aristotle must talk of infinity, it is only in the sense of a potentiality that can never be actualized. Aristotle’s solution has been both praised for its subtlety and blamed for entailing a limitation of mathematic. His understanding of the infinite as simply indefinite (the “bad infinite” that fails to reach its accomplishment), his conception (...) of the cosmos and even its prime mover as finite (in the sense of autarchic/self-contained) have been contrasted with the subsequent claim of God as ens infinitum (understood as a “positive” infinity). The goal of this essay is to reexamine the major texts (notably De caelo) and to demonstrate that (1) Aristotle’s claim according to which there is no actual infinite concerns only substances, not processes. (2) That Aristotle does not deny an actual infinite as such. (3) That when considering time and God (qua eternal) Aristotle acknowledges an actual infinite. (shrink)
In this chapter I explain Spinoza's concept of "infinite modes". After some brief background on Spinoza's thoughts on infinity, I provide reasons to think that Immediate Infinite Modes are identical to the attributes, and that Mediate Infinite Modes are merely totalities of finite modes. I conclude with some considerations against the alternative view that infinite modes are laws of nature.
Infinity exists as a concept but has no existence in actuality. For infinity to have existence in actuality either time or space have to already be infinite. Unless something is already infinite, the only way to become infinite is by an 'infinity leap' in an infinitely small moment, and this is not possible. Neither does infinitely small have an existence since anything larger than zero is not infinitely small. Therefore infinity has no existence in actuality.
Infinite machines (IMs) can do supertasks. A supertask is an infinite series of operations done in some finite time. Whether or not our universe contains any IMs, they are worthy of study as upper bounds on finite machines. We introduce IMs and describe some of their physical and psychological aspects. An accelerating Turing machine (an ATM) is a Turing machine that performs every next operation twice as fast. It can carry out infinitely many operations in finite time. Many (...) ATMs can be connected together to form networks of infinitely powerful agents. A network of ATMs can also be thought of as the control system for an infinitely complex robot. We describe a robot with a dense network of ATMs for its retinas, its brain, and its motor controllers. Such a robot can perform psychological supertasks - it can perceive infinitely detailed objects in all their detail; it can formulate infinite plans; it can make infinitely precise movements. An endless hierarchy of IMs might realize a deep notion of intelligent computing everywhere. (shrink)
The infinite judgement has long been forgotten and yet, as I am about to demonstrate, it may be urgent to revive it for its critical and productive potential. An infinite judgement is neither analytic nor synthetic; it does not produce logical truths, nor true representations, but it establishes the genetic conditions of real objects and the concepts appropriate to them. It is through infinite judgements that we reach the principle of transcendental logic, in the depths of which (...) all reality can emerge in its material and sensible singularity, making possible all generalization and formal abstraction. (shrink)
A comment on Paul Schoemaker's target article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14 (1991), p. 205-215, "The Quest for Optimality: A Positive Heuristic of Science?" (https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00066140). This comment argues that the optimizing model of decision leads to an infinite regress, once internal costs of decision (i.e., information and computation costs) are duly taken into account.
Supererogatory acts are those that lie “beyond the call of duty.” There are two standard ways to define this idea more precisely. Although the definitions are often seen as equivalent, I argue that they can diverge when options are infinite, or when there are cycles of better options; moreover, each definition is acceptable in only one case. I consider two ways out of this dilemma.
Le passage spéculatif de la catégorie du mauvais infini dans le véritable infini reste l’un des plus importants dans la Science de la logique. Comme il est bien connu, ce passage est expliqué par Hegel à travers sa théorie de l’idéalité du fini. Pourtant, du fait de sa structure complexe, le surgissement du véritable infini au sein du fini par l’idéalisation peut être considéré comme un processus abstrait, consistant seulement à supprimer la dualité de l’infinité. Cet article se propose donc (...) d’examiner pourquoi l’idéalisation de la véritable infini ne signifie ni une simple neutralisation de la catégorie de la finité ni une infinitisation extérieure de celle-ci, mais un processus dynamique qui s’infinitise en supprimant l’opposition statique du fini et de l’infini. (shrink)
In a number of recent publications Thomasson has defended a deflationary approach to ontological disputes, according to which ontological disputes are relatively easy to settle, by either conceptual analysis, or conceptual analysis in conjunction with empirical investigation. Thomasson’s “easy” approach to ontology is intended to derail many prominent ontological disputes. In this paper I present an objection to Thomasson’s approach to ontology. Thomasson’s approach to existence assertions means that she is committed to the view that application conditions associated with any (...) term “K” with non-trivial application conditions must refer to the existence of things other than Ks. Given other components of her meta-ontological scheme, this leads to either an infinite regress or circularity of application conditions, both of which seem objectionable. Accordingly, some part of Thomasson’s meta-ontological scheme should be modified or abandoned. (shrink)
Une preuve est pure si, en gros, elle ne réfère dans son développement qu’à ce qui est « proche » de, ou « intrinsèque » à l’énoncé à prouver. L’infinité des nombres premiers, un théorème classique de l’arithmétique, est un cas d’étude particulièrement riche pour les recherches philosophiques sur la pureté. Deux preuves différentes de ce résultat sont ici considérées, à savoir la preuve euclidienne classique et une preuve « topologique » plus récente proposée par Furstenberg. D’un point de vue (...) naïf, il semblerait que la première soit pure et la seconde impure. Des objections à cette vue naïve sont ici considérées et réfutées. Concernant la preuve euclidienne, la question relève de la logique, notamment de la définissabilité arithmétique de l’addition en termes de successeur et de divisibilité telle que démontrée par Julia Robinson, tandis qu’en ce qui concerne la preuve topologique, la question relève de la sémantique, notamment pour tout ce qui touche au problème de savoir ce qui est « inclus » dans le contenu d’énoncés particuliers.A proof is pure, roughly, if it draws only on what is « close » or « intrinsic » to the statement being proved. The infinitude of prime numbers, a classical theorem of arithmetic, is a rich case study for philosophical investigation of purity. Two different proofs of this result are considered, namely the classical Euclidean proof and a more recent « topological » proof by Furstenberg. Naively the former would seem to be pure and the latter to be impure. Objections to these naive views are considered and met. In the case of the former the issue rests on logical matters, specifically the arithmetic definability of addition in terms of successor and divisibility shown by Julia Robinson, while in the case of the latter the issue rests on semantic matters, specifically with respect to what is « contained » in the content of particular statements. (shrink)
This paper analyses the anti-reductionist argument from renormalisation group explanations of universality, and shows how it can be rebutted if one assumes that the explanation in question is captured by the counterfactual dependence account of explanation.
In this paper, I present a puzzle involving special relativity and the random selection of real numbers. In a manner to be specified, darts thrown later hit reals further into a fixed well-ordering than darts thrown earlier. Special relativity is then invoked to create a puzzle. I consider four ways of responding to this puzzle which, I suggest, fail. I then propose a resolution to the puzzle, which relies on the distinction between the potential infinite and the actual (...) class='Hi'>infinite. I suggest that certain structures, such as a well-ordering of the reals, or the natural numbers, are examples of the potential infinite, whereas infinite integers in a nonstandard model of arithmetic are examples of the actual infinite. (shrink)
We model infinite regress structures -not arguments- by means of ungrounded recursively defined functions in order to show that no such structure can perform the task of providing determination to the items composing it, that is, that no determination process containing an infinite regress structure is successful.
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