An analysis of the counter-intuitive properties of infinity as understood differently in mathematics, classical physics and quantum physics allows the consideration of various paradoxes under a new light (e.g. Zeno’s dichotomy, Torricelli’s trumpet, and the weirdness of quantum physics). It provides strong support for the reality of abstractness and mathematicalPlatonism, and a plausible reason why there is something rather than nothing in the concrete universe. The conclusions are far reaching for science and philosophy.
The demonstration of a loophole-free violation of Bell's inequality by Hensen et al. (2015) leads to the inescapable conclusion that timelessness and abstractness exist alongside space-time. This finding is in full agreement with the triple-aspect monism of reality, with mathematicalPlatonism, free will and the eventual emergence of a scientific morality.
This paper aims to provide modal foundations for mathematicalplatonism. I examine Hale and Wright’s (2009) objections to the merits and need, in the defense of mathematicalplatonism and its epistemology, of the thesis of Necessitism. In response to Hale and Wright’s objections to the role of epistemic and metaphysical modalities in providing justification for both the truth of abstraction principles and the success of mathematical predicate reference, I examine the Necessitist commitments of the abundant (...) conception of properties endorsed by Hale and Wright and examined in Hale (2013a); examine cardinality issues which arise depending on whether Necessitism is accepted at first- and higher-order; and demonstrate how a multi-dimensional intensional approach to the epistemology of mathematics, augmented with Necessitism, is consistent with Hale and Wright’s notion of there being epistemic entitlement rationally to trust that abstraction principles are true. Epistemic and metaphysical modality may thus be shown to play a constitutive role in vindicating the reality of mathematical objects and truth, and in explaining our possible knowledge thereof. (shrink)
Al final de su libro “La conciencia inexplicada”, Juan Arana señala que la nomología, explicación según las leyes de la naturaleza, requiere de una nomogonía, una consideración del origen de las leyes. Es decir, que el orden que observamos en el mundo natural requiere una instancia previa que ponga ese orden específico. Sabemos que desde la revolución científica la mejor manera de explicar dicha nomología ha sido mediante las matemáticas. Sin embargo, en las últimas décadas se han presentado algunas propuestas (...) basadas en modelos matemáticos que fundamentarían muchos aspectos de la realidad. Dos claros ejemplos provienen de Roger Penrose y Max Tegmark. Esto lleva a pensar en una posición no solo nomológica sino además nomogónica de la matemática. ¿Puede la Naturaleza estar fundada por las matemáticas como señalan algunos físico-matemáticos? Y en ese caso, ¿sería pertinente buscar una nomo-génesis de esta índole en la constitución de la conciencia? -/- At the end of his book “La conciencia inexplicada”, Juan Arana points out that nomology, explanation according to the laws of nature requires a nomogony, an account of the origin of the laws. This means that the order that we can observe in the natural World demands something prior to posit that specific order. Since the scientific revolution we know that the best way to explain that nomology has been through mathematics. Anyway, in recent decades a number of proposals based on mathematical models that found many aspects of reality has been offered. Two clear examples come from Roger Penrose and Max Tegmark. This drives us to think of a position of mathematics as not only nomological but also nomogonical. Can Nature be founded by mathematics as some physicists and mathematicians point out? And, in this case, would be relevant this kind of approach to search a nomo-genesis in the constitution of consciousness? (shrink)
This paper concerns an epistemological objection against mathematicalplatonism, due to Hartry Field.The argument poses an explanatory challenge – the challenge to explain the reliability of our mathematical beliefs – which the platonist, it’s argued, cannot meet. Is the objection compelling? Philosophers disagree, but they also disagree on (and are sometimes very unclear about) how the objection should be understood. Here I distinguish some options, and highlight some gaps that need to be filled in on the potentially (...) most compelling version of the argument. (shrink)
Humans and other animals have an evolved ability to detect discrete magnitudes in their environment. Does this observation support evolutionary debunking arguments against mathematical realism, as has been recently argued by Clarke-Doane, or does it bolster mathematical realism, as authors such as Joyce and Sinnott-Armstrong have assumed? To find out, we need to pay closer attention to the features of evolved numerical cognition. I provide a detailed examination of the functional properties of evolved numerical cognition, and propose that (...) they prima facie favor a realist account of numbers. (shrink)
What can we infer from numerical cognition about mathematical realism? In this paper, I will consider one aspect of numerical cognition that has received little attention in the literature: the remarkable similarities of numerical cognitive capacities across many animal species. This Invariantism in Numerical Cognition (INC) indicates that mathematics and morality are disanalogous in an important respect: proto-moral beliefs differ substantially between animal species, whereas proto-mathematical beliefs (at least in the animals studied) seem to show more similarities. This (...) makes moral beliefs more susceptible to a contingency challenge from evolution compared to mathematical beliefs, and indicates that mathematical beliefs might be less vulnerable to evolutionary debunking arguments. I will then examine to what extent INC can be used to flesh out a positive case for mathematical realism. Finally, I will review two forms of mathematical realism that are promising in the light of the evolutionary evidence about numerical cognition, ante rem structuralism and Millean empiricism. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend traditional Platonic mathematical realism from its contemporary detractors, arguing that numbers, understood as abstract, non-physical objects of rational intuition, are indispensable for the act of counting.
The Enhanced Indispensability Argument appeals to the existence of Mathematical Explanations of Physical Phenomena to justify mathematicalPlatonism, following the principle of Inference to the Best Explanation. In this paper, I examine one example of a MEPP—the explanation of the 13-year and 17-year life cycle of magicicadas—and argue that this case cannot be used defend the EIA. I then generalize my analysis of the cicada case to other MEPPs, and show that these explanations rely on what I (...) will call ‘optimal representations’, which are representations that capture all that is relevant to explain a physical phenomenon at a specified level of description. In the end, because the role of mathematics in MEPPs is ultimately representational, they cannot be used to support mathematicalPlatonism. I finish the paper by addressing the claim, advanced by many EIA defendants, that quantification over mathematical objects results in explanations that have more theoretical virtues, especially that they are more general and modally stronger than alternative explanations. I will show that the EIA cannot be successfully defended by appealing to these notions. (shrink)
World news can be discouraging these days. In order to counteract the effects of fake news and corruption, scientists have a duty to present the truth and propose ethical solutions acceptable to the world at large. -/- By starting from scratch, we can lay down the scientific principles underlying our very existence, and reach reasonable conclusions on all major topics including quantum physics, infinity, timelessness, free will, mathematicalPlatonism, happiness, ethics and religion, all the way to creation and (...) a special type of multiverse. -/- This article amounts to a summary of my personal Theory of Everything. -/- DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.36046.31049. (shrink)
We demonstrate how real progress can be made in the debate surrounding the enhanced indispensability argument. Drawing on a counterfactual theory of explanation, well-motivated independently of the debate, we provide a novel analysis of ‘explanatory generality’ and how mathematics is involved in its procurement. On our analysis, mathematics’ sole explanatory contribution to the procurement of explanatory generality is to make counterfactual information about physical dependencies easier to grasp and reason with for creatures like us. This gives precise content to key (...) intuitions traded in the debate, regarding mathematics’ procurement of explanatory generality, and adjudicates unambiguously in favour of the nominalist, at least as far as ex- planatory generality is concerned. (shrink)
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 Quine/Putnam indispensability argument is regarded by many as the chief argument for the existence of platonic objects. We argue that this argument cannot establish what its proponents intend. The form of our argument is simple. Suppose indispensability to science is the only good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects. Either the dispensability of mathematical objects to science can be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of platonic objects, or (...) their dispensability cannot be demonstrated and, hence, there is no good reason for believing in the existence of mathematical objects which are genuinely platonic. Therefore, indispensability, whether true or false, does not support platonism. (shrink)
In this dissertation I examine the NeoFregean metaontology of mathematics. I try to clarify the relationship between what is sometimes called Priority Thesis and Platonism about mathematical entities. I then present three coherent ways in which one might endorse both these stances, also answering some possible objections. Finally I try to show which of these three ways is the most promising.
Non-skeptical robust realists about normativity, mathematics, or any other domain of non- causal truths are committed to a correlation between their beliefs and non- causal, mind-independent facts. Hartry Field and others have argued that if realists cannot explain this striking correlation, that is a strong reason to reject their theory. Some consider this argument, known as the Benacerraf–Field argument, as the strongest challenge to robust realism about mathematics, normativity, and even logic. In this article I offer two closely related accounts (...) for the type of explanation needed in order to address Field's challenge. I then argue that both accounts imply that the striking correlation to which robust realists are committed is explainable, thereby discharging Field's challenge. Finally, I respond to some objections and end with a few unresolved worries. (shrink)
I argue that recent attempts to deflect Access Problems for realism about a priori domains such as mathematics, logic, morality, and modality using arguments from evolution result in two kinds of explanatory overkill: (1) the Access Problem is eliminated for contentious domains, and (2) realist belief becomes viciously immune to arguments from dispensability, and to non-rebutting counter-arguments more generally.
Platonism in the philosophy of mathematics is the doctrine that there are mathematical objects such as numbers. John Burgess and Gideon Rosen have argued that that there is no good epistemological argument against platonism. They propose a dilemma, claiming that epistemological arguments against platonism either rely on a dubious epistemology, or resemble a dubious sceptical argument concerning perceptual knowledge. Against Burgess and Rosen, I show that an epistemological anti- platonist argument proposed by Hartry Field avoids both (...) horns of their dilemma. (shrink)
What is so special and mysterious about the Continuum, this ancient, always topical, and alongside the concept of integers, most intuitively transparent and omnipresent conceptual and formal medium for mathematical constructions and the battle field of mathematical inquiries ? And why it resists the century long siege by best mathematical minds of all times committed to penetrate once and for all its set-theoretical enigma ? -/- The double-edged purpose of the present study is to save from the (...) transfinite deadlock of higher set theory the jewel of mathematical Continuum -- this genuine, even if mostly forgotten today raison d'etre of all set-theoretical enterprises to Infinity and beyond, from Georg Cantor to W. Hugh Woodin to Buzz Lightyear, by simultaneously exhibiting the limits and pitfalls of all old and new reductionist foundational approaches to mathematical truth: be it Cantor's or post-Cantorian Idealism, Brouwer's or post-Brouwerian Constructivism, Hilbert's or post-Hilbertian Formalism, Goedel's or post-Goedelian Platonism. -/- In the spirit of Zeno's paradoxes, but with the enormous historical advantage of hindsight, we claim that Cantor's set-theoretical methodology, powerful and reach in proof-theoretic and similar applications as it might be, is inherently limited by its epistemological framework of transfinite local causality, and neither can be held accountable for the properties of the Continuum already acquired through geometrical, analytical, and arithmetical studies, nor can it be used for an adequate, conceptually sensible, operationally workable, and axiomatically sustainable re-creation of the Continuum. -/- From a strictly mathematical point of view, this intrinsic limitation of the constative and explicative power of higher set theory finds its explanation in the identified in this study ultimate phenomenological obstacle to Cantor's transfinite construction, similar to topological obstacles in homotopy theory and theoretical physics: the entanglement capacity of the mathematical Continuum. (shrink)
For over thirty years I have argued that all branches of science and scholarship would have both their intellectual and humanitarian value enhanced if pursued in accordance with the edicts of wisdom-inquiry rather than knowledge-inquiry. I argue that this is true of mathematics. Viewed from the perspective of knowledge-inquiry, mathematics confronts us with two fundamental problems. (1) How can mathematics be held to be a branch of knowledge, in view of the difficulties that view engenders? What could mathematics be knowledge (...) about? (2) How do we distinguish significant from insignificant mathematics? This is a fundamental philosophical problem concerning the nature of mathematics. But it is also a practical problem concerning mathematics itself. In the absence of the solution to the problem, there is the danger that genuinely significant mathematics will be lost among the unchecked growth of a mass of insignificant mathematics. This second problem cannot, it would seem, be solved granted knowledge-inquiry. For, in order to solve the problem, mathematics needs to be related to values, but this is, it seems, prohibited by knowledge-inquiry because it could only lead to the subversion of mathematical rigour. Both problems are solved, however, when mathematics is viewed from the perspective of wisdom-inquiry. (1) Mathematics is not a branch of knowledge. It is a body of systematized, unified and inter-connected problem-solving methods, a body of problematic possibilities. (2) A piece of mathematics is significant if (a) it links up to the interconnected body of existing mathematics, ideally in such a way that some problems difficult to solve in other branches become much easier to solve when translated into the piece of mathematics in question; (b) it has fruitful applications for (other) worthwhile human endeavours. If ever the revolution from knowledge to wisdom occurs, I would hope wisdom mathematics would flourish, the nature of mathematics would become much more transparent, more pupils and students would come to appreciate the fascination of mathematics, and it would be easier to discern what is genuinely significant in mathematics (something that baffled even Einstein). As a result of clarifying what should count as significant, the pursuit of wisdom mathematics might even lead to the development of significant new mathematics. (shrink)
This 4-page review-essay—which is entirely reportorial and philosophically neutral as are my other contributions to MATHEMATICAL REVIEWS—starts with a short introduction to the philosophy known as mathematical structuralism. The history of structuralism traces back to George Boole (1815–1864). By reference to a recent article various feature of structuralism are discussed with special attention to ambiguity and other terminological issues. The review-essay includes a description of the recent article. The article’s 4-sentence summary is quoted in full and then analyzed. (...) The point of the quotation is to make clear how murky, incompetent, and badly written the paper is. There is no way to determine from the article whether the editor or referees suggests improvements. (shrink)
Mathematical objects are divided into (1) those which are autonomous, i.e., not dependent for their existence upon mathematicians’ conscious acts, and (2) intentional objects, which are so dependent. Platonist philosophy of mathematics argues that all objects belong to group (1), Brouwer’s intuitionism argues that all belong to group (2). Here we attempt to develop a dualist ontology of mathematics (implicit in the work of, e.g., Hilbert), exploiting the theories of Meinong, Husserl and Ingarden on the relations between autonomous and (...) intentional objects. In particular we develop a phenomenology of mathematical works, which has the stratified intentional structure discovered by Ingarden in his study of the literary work. (shrink)
Hartry Field has argued that mathematical realism is epistemologically problematic, because the realist is unable to explain the supposed reliability of our mathematical beliefs. In some of his discussions of this point, Field backs up his argument by saying that our purely mathematical beliefs do not ‘counterfactually depend on the facts’. I argue that counterfactual dependence is irrelevant in this context; it does nothing to bolster Field's argument.
The viability of metaphysics as a field of knowledge has been challenged time and again. But in spite of the continuing tendency to dismiss metaphysics, there has been considerable progress in this field in the 20th- and 21st- centuries. One of the newest − though, in a sense, also oldest − frontiers of metaphysics is the grounding project. In this paper I raise a methodological challenge to the new grounding project and propose a constructive solution. Both the challenge and its (...) solution apply to metaphysics in general, but grounding theory puts the challenge in an especially sharp focus. The solution consists of a new methodology, holistic grounding or holistic metaphysics. This methodology is modeled after a recent epistemic methodology, foundational holism, that enables us to pursue the foundational project of epistemology without being hampered by the problems associated with foundationalism. (shrink)
According to Quine’s indispensability argument, we ought to believe in just those mathematical entities that we quantify over in our best scientific theories. Quine’s criterion of ontological commitment is part of the standard indispensability argument. However, we suggest that a new indispensability argument can be run using Armstrong’s criterion of ontological commitment rather than Quine’s. According to Armstrong’s criterion, ‘to be is to be a truthmaker (or part of one)’. We supplement this criterion with our own brand of metaphysics, (...) 'Aristotelian (...) realism', in order to identify the truthmakers of mathematics. We consider in particular as a case study the indispensability to physics of real analysis (the theory of the real numbers). We conclude that it is possible to run an indispensability argument without Quinean baggage. (shrink)
State of the art paper on the topic realism/anti-realism. The first part of the paper elucidates the notions of existence and independence of the metaphysical characterization of the realism/anti-realism dispute. The second part of the paper presents a critical taxonomy of the most important positions and doctrines in the contemporary literature on the domains of science and mathematics: scientific realism, scientific anti-realism, constructive empiricism, structural realism, mathematicalPlatonism, mathematical indispensability, mathematical empiricism, intuitionism, mathematical fictionalism and (...) second philosophy. (shrink)
I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can undermine platonist arguments from explanatory indispensability.
Gödel’s philosophical conceptions bear striking similarities to Cantor’s. Although there is no conclusive evidence that Gödel deliberately used or adhered to Cantor’s views, one can successfully reconstruct and see his “Cantorianism” at work in many parts of his thought. In this paper, I aim to describe the most prominent conceptual intersections between Cantor’s and Gödel’s thought, particularly on such matters as the nature and existence of mathematical entities (sets), concepts, Platonism, the Absolute Infinite, the progress and inexhaustibility of (...) mathematics. (shrink)
One of the important challenges in the philosophy of mathematics is to account for the semantics of sentences that express mathematical propositions while simultaneously explaining our access to their contents. This is Benacerraf’s Dilemma. In this dissertation, I argue that cognitive science furnishes new tools by means of which we can make progress on this problem. The foundation of the solution, I argue, must be an ontologically realist, albeit non-platonist, conception of mathematical reality. The semantic portion of the (...) problem can be addressed by accepting a Chomskyan conception of natural languages and a matching internalist, mentalist and nativist view of semantics. A helpful perspective on the epistemic aspect of the puzzle can be gained by translating Kurt G ̈odel’s neo-Kantian conception of the nature of mathematics and its objects into modern, cognitive terms. (shrink)
This is an article for an upcoming volume of essays in honor and memory of Eva Picardi. I engage with the literature that has tried to distill the significance of Frege's context principle for the philosophy of language (setting aside its role in Frege's argument for mathematicalplatonism). I argue that there are some interpretive problems with recent meta-semantic interpretations of the principle. Instead, I offer a somewhat weaker alternative: the context principle is a tool to license certain (...) definitions. Moreover, I claim that it merely lays out one of many possible ways of licensing a definition. Despite Frege's imperative injunctions, we should take it to be a permission statement, not an obligation. (shrink)
Introduction to mathematical logic, part 2.Textbook for students in mathematical logic and foundations of mathematics. Platonism, Intuition, Formalism. Axiomatic set theory. Around the Continuum Problem. Axiom of Determinacy. Large Cardinal Axioms. Ackermann's Set Theory. First order arithmetic. Hilbert's 10th problem. Incompleteness theorems. Consequences. Connected results: double incompleteness theorem, unsolvability of reasoning, theorem on the size of proofs, diophantine incompleteness, Loeb's theorem, consistent universal statements are provable, Berry's paradox, incompleteness and Chaitin's theorem. Around Ramsey's theorem.
Originally published in 1991, The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences, is the first monograph to identify and address some of the many interesting questions that pertain to thought experiments. While the putative aim of the book is to explore the nature of thought experimental evidence, it has another important purpose which concerns the crucial role thought experiments play in Brown’s Platonic master argument.In that argument, Brown argues against naturalism and empiricism (Brown 2012), for mathematical (...)Platonism (Brown 2008), and from the Platonist-friendly, abstract universals posited by the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong (DTA) account of the laws of nature to a more general, physical Platonism. The Laboratory of the Mind is where he takes this final step. (shrink)
According to modal realism formulated by David Lewis, there exist concrete possible worlds. As he argues the hypothesis is serviceable and that is a sufficient reason to think it is true. On the other side, Lewis does not consider the pragmatic reasons to be conclusive. He admits that the theoretical benefits of modal realism can be illusory or that the acceptance of controversial ontology for the sake of theoretical benefits might be misguided in the first place. In the first part (...) of the paper, I consider the worry and conclude that although the worry is justified, there can be an epistemological justification for his theory. Next, I outline the so-called indispensability argument for the legitimacy of mathematicalPlatonism. Finally, I argue that the argument, if accepted, can be applied to metaphysics in general, to the arguing for the existence of concrete (im)possibilia in particular. (shrink)
This chapter tries to answer the following question: How should we conceive of the method of mathematics, if we take a naturalist stance? The problem arises since mathematical knowledge is regarded as the paradigm of certain knowledge, because mathematics is based on the axiomatic method. Moreover, natural science is deeply mathematized, and science is crucial for any naturalist perspective. But mathematics seems to provide a counterexample both to methodological and ontological naturalism. To face this problem, some authors tried to (...) naturalize mathematics by relying on evolutionism. But several difficulties arise when we try to do this. This chapter suggests that, in order to naturalize mathematics, it is better to take the method of mathematics to be the analytic method, rather than the axiomatic method, and thus conceive of mathematical knowledge as plausible knowledge. (shrink)
A basic thesis of Neokantian epistemology and philosophy of science contends that the knowing subject and the object to be known are only abstractions. What really exists, is the relation between both. For the elucidation of this “knowledge relation ("Erkenntnisrelation") the Neokantians of the Marburg school used a variety of mathematical metaphors. In this con-tribution I reconsider some of these metaphors proposed by Paul Natorp, who was one of the leading members of the Marburg school. It is shown that (...) Natorp's metaphors are not unrelated to those used in some currents of contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
K. Marx’s 200th jubilee coincides with the celebration of the 85 years from the first publication of his “Mathematical Manuscripts” in 1933. Its editor, Sofia Alexandrovna Yanovskaya (1896–1966), was a renowned Soviet mathematician, whose significant studies on the foundations of mathematics and mathematical logic, as well as on the history and philosophy of mathematics are unduly neglected nowadays. Yanovskaya, as a militant Marxist, was actively engaged in the ideological confrontation with idealism and its influence on modern mathematics and (...) their interpretation. Concomitantly, she was one of the pioneers of mathematical logic in the Soviet Union, in an era of fierce disputes on its compatibility with Marxist philosophy. Yanovskaya managed to embrace in an originally Marxist spirit the contemporary level of logico-philosophical research of her time. Due to her highly esteemed status within Soviet academia, she became one of the most significant pillars for the culmination of modern mathematics in the Soviet Union. In this paper, I attempt to trace the influence of the complex socio-cultural context of the first decades of the Soviet Union on Yanovskaya’s work. Among the several issues I discuss, her encounter with L. Wittgenstein is striking. (shrink)
The existence of fundamental moral disagreements is a central problem for moral realism and has often been contrasted with an alleged absence of disagreement in mathematics. However, mathematicians do in fact disagree on fundamental questions, for example on which set-theoretic axioms are true, and some philosophers have argued that this increases the plausibility of moral vis-à-vis mathematical realism. I argue that the analogy between mathemat- ical and moral disagreement is not as straightforward as those arguments present it. In particular, (...) I argue that pluralist accounts of mathematics render fundamental mathematical disagreements compatible with mathematical realism in a way in which moral disagreements and moral realism are not. (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)
This article examines Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the simulacrum, which Deleuze formulated in the context of his reading of Nietzsche’s project of “overturning Platonism.” The essential Platonic distinction, Deleuze argues, is more profound than the speculative distinction between model and copy, original and image. The deeper, practical distinction moves between two kinds of images or eidolon, for which the Platonic Idea is meant to provide a concrete criterion of selection “Copies” or icons (eikones) are well-grounded claimants to the transcendent (...) Idea, authenticated by their internal resemblance to the Idea, whereas “simulacra” (phantasmata) are like false claimants, built on a dissimilarity and implying an essential perversion or deviation from the Idea. If the goal of Platonism is the triumph of icons over simulacra, the inversion of Platonism would entail an affirmation of the simulacrum as such, which must thus be given its own concept. Deleuze consequently defines the simulacrum in terms of an internal dissimilitude or “disparateness,” which in turn implies a new conception of Ideas, no longer as self-identical qualities (the auto kath’hauto), but rather as constituting a pure concept of difference. An inverted Platonism would necessarily be based on a purely immanent and differential conception of Ideas. Starting from this new conception of the Idea, Deleuze proposes to take up the Platonic project anew, rethinking the fundamental figures of Platonism (selection, repetition, ungrounding, the question-problem complex) on a purely differential basis. In this sense, Deleuze’s inverted Platonism can at the same time be seen as a rejuvenated Platonism and even a completed Platonism. (shrink)
In the opening chapter of the Monologion, Anselm offers an intriguing proof for the existence of a Platonic form of goodness. This proof is extremely interesting, both in itself and for its place in the broader argument for God’s existence that Anselm develops in the Monologion as a whole. Even so, it has yet to receive the scholarly attention that it deserves. My aim in this article is to begin correcting this state of affairs by examining Anslem’s proof in some (...) detail. In particular, I aim to clarify the proof’s structure, motivate and explain its central premises, and begin the larger project of evaluating its overall success as an argument for Platonism about goodness. (shrink)
Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extended mind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical operations to the external environment. In this view, mathematical symbols (...) are not only used to express mathematical concepts—they are constitutive of the mathematical concepts themselves. Mathematical symbols are epistemic actions, because they enable us to represent concepts that are literally unthinkable with our bare brains. Using case-studies from the history of mathematics and from educational psychology, we argue for an intimate relationship between mathematical symbols and mathematical cognition. (shrink)
Much recent discussion in the philosophy of mathematics has concerned the indispensability argument—an argument which aims to establish the existence of abstract mathematical objects through appealing to the role that mathematics plays in empirical science. The indispensability argument is standardly attributed to W. V. Quine and Hilary Putnam. In this paper, I show that this attribution is mistaken. Quine's argument for the existence of abstract mathematical objects differs from the argument which many philosophers of mathematics ascribe to him. (...) Contrary to appearances, Putnam did not argue for the existence of abstract mathematical objects at all. I close by suggesting that attention to Quine and Putnam's writings reveals some neglected arguments for platonism which may be superior to the indispensability argument. (shrink)
In Metaphysics M.2, 1077a9-14, Aristotle appears to argue against the existence of Platonic Forms on the basis of there being certain universal mathematical proofs which are about things that are ‘beyond’ the ordinary objects of mathematics and that cannot be identified with any of these. It is a very effective argument against Platonism, because it provides a counter-example to the core Platonic idea that there are Forms in order to serve as the object of scientific knowledge: the universal (...) of which theorems of universal mathematics are proven in Greek mathematics is neither Quantity in general nor any of the specific quantities, but Quantity-of-type-x. This universal cannot be a Platonic Form, for it is dependent on the types of quantity over which the variable ranges. Since for both Plato and Aristotle the object of scientific knowledge is that F which explains why G holds, as shown in a ‘direct’ proof about an arbitrary F (they merely disagree about the ontological status of this arbitrary F, whether a Form or a particular used in so far as it is F), Plato cannot maintain that Forms must be there as objects of scientific knowledge - unless the mathematics is changed. (shrink)
A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the (...) Lotka-Volterra equations. There are at least two distinct ways those equations might hold of a system, one of which yields straightforwardly causal explanations, but the other of which yields explanations that are distinctively mathematical in terms of nomological strength. In the first, one first picks out a system or class of systems, finds that the equations hold in a causal -explanatory way; in the second, one starts with the equations and explanations that must apply to any system of which the equations hold, and only then turns to the world to see of what, if any, systems it does in fact hold. Using this new way in which a model might hold of a system, I highlight four specific avenues by which causal and non- causal explanations can complement one another. (shrink)
In their recent paper on “Challenges in mathematical cognition”, Alcock and colleagues (Alcock et al. [2016]. Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 2, 20-41) defined a research agenda through 26 specific research questions. An important dimension of mathematical cognition almost completely absent from their discussion is the cultural constitution of mathematical cognition. Spanning work from a broad range of disciplines – including anthropology, archaeology, cognitive science, history of science, linguistics, philosophy, (...) and psychology – we argue that for any research agenda on mathematical cognition the cultural dimension is indispensable, and we propose a set of exemplary research questions related to it. (shrink)
An account of distinctively mathematical explanation (DME) should satisfy three desiderata: it should account for the modal import of some DMEs; it should distinguish uses of mathematics in explanation that are distinctively mathematical from those that are not (Baron [2016]); and it should also account for the directionality of DMEs (Craver and Povich [2017]). Baron’s (forthcoming) deductive-mathematical account, because it is modelled on the deductive-nomological account, is unlikely to satisfy these desiderata. I provide a counterfactual account of (...) DME, the Narrow Ontic Counterfactual Account (NOCA), that can satisfy all three desiderata. NOCA appeals to ontic considerations to account for explanatory asymmetry and ground the relevant counterfactuals. NOCA provides a unification of the causal and the non-causal, the ontic and the modal, by identifying a common core that all explanations share and in virtue of which they are explanatory. (shrink)
Mathematical realism asserts that mathematical objects exist in the abstract world, and that a mathematical sentence is true or false, depending on whether the abstract world is as the mathematical sentence says it is. I raise two objections against mathematical realism. First, the abstract world is queer in that it allows for contradictory states of affairs. Second, mathematical realism does not have a theoretical resource to explain why a sentence about a tricle is true (...) or false. A tricle is an object that changes its shape from a triangle to a circle, and then back to a triangle with every second. (shrink)
I defend a new position in philosophy of mathematics that I call mathematical inferentialism. It holds that a mathematical sentence can perform the function of facilitating deductive inferences from some concrete sentences to other concrete sentences, that a mathematical sentence is true if and only if all of its concrete consequences are true, that the abstract world does not exist, and that we acquire mathematical knowledge by confirming concrete sentences. Mathematical inferentialism has several advantages over (...)mathematical realism and fictionalism. (shrink)
Callard (2007) argues that it is metaphysically possible that a mathematical object, although abstract, causally affects the brain. I raise the following objections. First, a successful defence of mathematical realism requires not merely the metaphysical possibility but rather the actuality that a mathematical object affects the brain. Second, mathematical realists need to confront a set of three pertinent issues: why a mathematical object does not affect other concrete objects and other mathematical objects, what counts (...) as a mathematical object, and how we can have knowledge about an unchanging object. (shrink)
In the section “Validity and Existence in Logik, Book III,” I explain Lotze’s famous distinction between existence and validity in Book III of Logik. In the following section, “Lotze’s Platonism,” I put this famous distinction in the context of Lotze’s attempt to distinguish his own position from hypostatic Platonism and consider one way of drawing the distinction: the hypostatic Platonist accepts that there are propositions, whereas Lotze rejects this. In the section “Two Perspectives on Frege’s Platonism,” I (...) argue that this is an unsatisfactory way of reading Lotze’s Platonism and that the Ricketts-Reck reading of Frege is in fact the correct way of thinking about Lotze’s Platonism. (shrink)
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