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.
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 (2013); examine cardinality issues which arise depending on whether Necessitism is accepted at first- and higher-order; and demonstrate how a two-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. A choice point that I flag is that between availing of intensional or hyperintensional semantics. The hyperintensional semantic approach that I advance is an epistemic two-dimensional truthmaker semantics. Epistemic and metaphysical states and possibilities 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)
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.
Proponents of the explanatory indispensability argument for mathematicalplatonism maintain that claims about mathematical entities play an essential explanatory role in some of our best scientific explanations. They infer that the existence of mathematical entities is supported by way of inference to the best explanation from empirical phenomena and therefore that there are the same sort of empirical grounds for believing in mathematical entities as there are for believing in concrete unobservables such as quarks. I (...) object that this inference depends on a false view of how abductive considerations mediate the transfer of empirical support. More specifically, I argue that even if inference to the best explanation is cogent, and claims about mathematical entities play an essential explanatory role in some of our best scientific explanations, it doesn’t follow that the empirical phenomena that license those explanations also provide empirical support for the claim that mathematical entities exist. (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)
Plato’s philosophy is important to Badiou for a number of reasons, chief among which is that Badiou considered Plato to have recognised that mathematics provides the only sound or adequate basis for ontology. The mathematical basis of ontology is central to Badiou’s philosophy, and his engagement with Plato is instrumental in determining how he positions his philosophy in relation to those approaches to the philosophy of mathematics that endorse an orthodox Platonic realism, i.e. the independent existence of a realm (...) of mathematical objects. The Platonism that Badiou makes claim to bears little resemblance to this orthodoxy. Like Plato, Badiou insists on the primacy of the eternal and immu- table abstraction of the mathematico-ontological Idea; however, Badiou’s reconstructed Platonism champions the mathematics of post-Cantorian set theory, which itself af rms the irreducible multiplicity of being. Badiou in this way recon gures the Platonic notion of the relation between the one and the multiple in terms of the multiple-without-one as represented in the axiom of the void or empty set. Rather than engage with the Plato that is gured in the ontological realism of the orthodox Platonic approach to the philosophy of mathematics, Badiou is intent on characterising the Plato that responds to the demands of a post-Cantorian set theory, and he considers Plato’s philosophy to provide a response to such a challenge. In effect, Badiou reorients mathematicalPlatonism from an epistemological to an ontological problematic, a move that relies on the plausibility of rejecting the empiricist ontology underlying orthodox mathematicalPlatonism. To draw a connec- tion between these two approaches to Platonism and to determine what sets them radically apart, this paper focuses on the use that they each make of model theory to further their respective arguments. (shrink)
This rich book differs from much contemporary philosophy of mathematics in the author’s witty, down to earth style, and his extensive experience as a working mathematician. It accords with the field in focusing on whether mathematical entities are real. Franklin holds that recent discussion of this has oscillated between various forms of Platonism, and various forms of nominalism. He denies nominalism by holding that universals exist and denies Platonism by holding that they are concrete, not abstract - (...) looking to Aristotle for inspiration. (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 explanatory generality is concerned. (shrink)
Some scientific explanations appear to turn on pure mathematical claims. The enhanced indispensability argument appeals to these ‘mathematical explanations’ in support of mathematicalplatonism. I argue that the success of this argument rests on the claim that mathematical explanations locate pure mathematical facts on which their physical explananda depend, and that any account of mathematical explanation that supports this claim fails to provide an adequate understanding of mathematical explanation.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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.
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)
According to Hartry Field, the mathematical Platonist is hostage of a dilemma. Faced with the request of explaining the mathematicians’ reliability, one option could be to maintain that the mathematicians are reliably responsive to a realm populated with mathematical entities; alternatively, one might try to contend that the mathematical realm conceptually depends on, and for this reason is reliably reflected by, the mathematicians’ (best) opinions; however, both alternatives are actually unavailable to the Platonist: the first one because (...) it is in tension with the idea that mathematical entities are causally ineﬀective, the second one because it is in tension with the suggestion that mathematical entities are mind-independent. John Divers and Alexander Miller have tried to reject the conclusion of this argument—according to which Platonism is inconsistent with a satisfactory epistemology for arithmetic—by redescribing the second horn of the dilemma in light of Crispin Wright’s notion of judgment-dependent truth; in particular they have contended that once arithmetical truth is conceived in this way the Platonist can have a substantial epistemology which does not conflict with the idea that the mathematical entities exist mind-independently. In this paper I analyze Wright’s notion of judgment-dependent truth, and reject Divers and Miller’s argument for the conclusion that arithmetical truth can be so characterized. In the final part, I address the worry that my argument generalizes very quickly to the conclusion that no area of discourse could be characterized as judgment-dependent. As against this conclusion, I indicate under what conditions—notably not satisfied in Divers and Miller’s case, but possibly satisfied in others—a discourse’s judgment-dependency can be successfully vindicated. (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.
In this paper I argue that constructivism in mathematics faces a dilemma. In particular, I maintain that constructivism is unable to explain (i) the application of mathematics to nature and (ii) the intersubjectivity of mathematics unless (iii) it is conjoined with two theses that reduce it to a form of mathematicalPlatonism. The paper is divided into five sections. In the first section of the paper, I explain the difference between mathematical constructivism and mathematicalPlatonism (...) and I outline my argument. In the second, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics applies to nature for a constructivist is a thesis I call Copernicanism. In the third, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics can be intersubjective for a constructivist is a thesis I call Ideality. In the fourth, I argue that once constructivism is conjoined with these two theses, it collapses into a form of mathematicalPlatonism. In the fifth, I confront some objections. (shrink)
Modern philosophy of mathematics has been dominated by Platonism and nominalism, to the neglect of the Aristotelian realist option. Aristotelianism holds that mathematics studies certain real properties of the world – mathematics is neither about a disembodied world of “abstract objects”, as Platonism holds, nor it is merely a language of science, as nominalism holds. Aristotle’s theory that mathematics is the “science of quantity” is a good account of at least elementary mathematics: the ratio of two heights, for (...) example, is a perceivable and measurable real relation between properties of physical things, a relation that can be shared by the ratio of two weights or two time intervals. Ratios are an example of continuous quantity; discrete quantities, such as whole numbers, are also realised as relations between a heap and a unit-making universal. For example, the relation between foliage and being-a-leaf is the number of leaves on a tree,a relation that may equal the relation between a heap of shoes and being-a-shoe. Modern higher mathematics, however, deals with some real properties that are not naturally seen as quantity, so that the “science of quantity” theory of mathematics needs supplementation. Symmetry, topology and similar structural properties are studied by mathematics, but are about pattern, structure or arrangement rather than quantity. (shrink)
As part of the development of an epistemology for mathematics, some Platonists have defended the view that we have intuition that certain mathematical principles hold, and intuition of the properties of some mathematical objects. In this paper, I discuss some difficulties that this view faces to accommodate some salient features of mathematical practice. I then offer an alternative, agnostic nominalist proposal in which, despite the role played by mathematical intuition, these difficulties do not emerge.
There is a wide range of realist but non-Platonist philosophies of mathematics—naturalist or Aristotelian realisms. Held by Aristotle and Mill, they played little part in twentieth century philosophy of mathematics but have been revived recently. They assimilate mathematics to the rest of science. They hold that mathematics is the science of X, where X is some observable feature of the (physical or other non-abstract) world. Choices for X include quantity, structure, pattern, complexity, relations. The article lays out and compares these (...) options, including their accounts of what X is, the examples supporting each theory, and the reasons for identifying the science of X with (most or all of) mathematics. Some comparison of the options is undertaken, but the main aim is to display the spectrum of viable alternatives to Platonism and nominalism. It is explained how these views answer Frege’s widely accepted argument that arithmetic cannot be about real features of the physical world, and arguments that such mathematical objects as large infinities and perfect geometrical figures cannot be physically realized. (shrink)
Mathematics appears to play an explanatory role in science. This, in turn, is thought to pave a way toward mathematicalPlatonism. A central challenge for mathematical Platonists, however, is to provide an account of how mathematical explanations work. I propose a property-based account: physical systems possess mathematical properties, which either guarantee the presence of other mathematical properties and, by extension, the physical states that possess them; or rule out other mathematical properties, and their (...) associated physical states. I explain why Platonists should accept that physical systems have mathematical properties, and why a property based account is better than existing accounts of mathematical explanation. I close by considering whether nominalists can accept the view I propose here. I argue that they cannot. (shrink)
This monograph offers a fresh perspective on the applicability of mathematics in science. It explores what mathematics must be so that its applications to the empirical world do not constitute a mystery. In the process, readers are presented with a new version of mathematical structuralism. The author details a philosophy of mathematics in which the problem of its applicability, particularly in physics, in all its forms can be explained and justified. Chapters cover: mathematics as a formal science, mathematical (...) ontology: what does it mean to exist, mathematical structures: what are they and how do we know them, how different layers of mathematical structuring relate to each other and to perceptual structures, and how to use mathematics to find out how the world is. The book simultaneously develops along two lines, both inspired and enlightened by Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy. One line leads to the establishment of a particular version of mathematical structuralism, free of “naturalist” and empiricist bias. The other leads to a logical-epistemological explanation and justification of the applicability of mathematics carried out within a unique structuralist perspective. This second line points to the “unreasonable” effectiveness of mathematics in physics as a means of representation, a tool, and a source of not always logically justified but useful and effective heuristic strategies. (shrink)
At the beginning of the present century, a series of paradoxes were discovered within mathematics which suggested a fundamental unclarity in traditional mathematical methods. These methods rested on the assumption of a realm of mathematical idealities existing independently of our thinking activity, and in order to arrive at a firmly grounded mathematics different attempts were made to formulate a conception of mathematical objects as purely human constructions. It was, however, realised that such formulations necessarily result in a mathematics (...) which lacks the richness and power of the old ‘platonistic’ methods, and the latter are still defended, in various modified forms, as embodying truths about self-existent mathematical entities. Thus there is an idealism-realism dispute in the philosophy of mathematics in some respects parallel to the controversy over the existence of the experiential world to the settlement of which lngarden devoted his life. The present paper is an attempt to apply Ingarden’s methods to the sphere of mathematical existence. This exercise will reveal new modes of being applicable to non-real objects, and we shall put forward arguments to suggest that these modes of being have an importance outside mathematics, especially in the areas of value theory and the ontology of art. (shrink)
We examine some of Connes’ criticisms of Robinson’s infinitesimals starting in 1995. Connes sought to exploit the Solovay model S as ammunition against non-standard analysis, but the model tends to boomerang, undercutting Connes’ own earlier work in functional analysis. Connes described the hyperreals as both a “virtual theory” and a “chimera”, yet acknowledged that his argument relies on the transfer principle. We analyze Connes’ “dart-throwing” thought experiment, but reach an opposite conclusion. In S , all definable sets of reals are (...) Lebesgue measurable, suggesting that Connes views a theory as being “virtual” if it is not definable in a suitable model of ZFC. If so, Connes’ claim that a theory of the hyperreals is “virtual” is refuted by the existence of a definable model of the hyperreal field due to Kanovei and Shelah. Free ultrafilters aren’t definable, yet Connes exploited such ultrafilters both in his own earlier work on the classification of factors in the 1970s and 80s, and in Noncommutative Geometry, raising the question whether the latter may not be vulnerable to Connes’ criticism of virtuality. We analyze the philosophical underpinnings of Connes’ argument based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, and detect an apparent circularity in Connes’ logic. We document the reliance on non-constructive foundational material, and specifically on the Dixmier trace −∫ (featured on the front cover of Connes’ magnum opus) and the Hahn–Banach theorem, in Connes’ own framework. We also note an inaccuracy in Machover’s critique of infinitesimal-based pedagogy. (shrink)
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)
This essay explores the use of platonist and nominalist concepts, derived from the philosophy of mathematics and metaphysics, as a means of elucidating the debate on spacetime ontology and the spatial structures endorsed by scientific realists. Although the disputes associated with platonism and nominalism often mirror the complexities involved with substantivalism and relationism, it will be argued that a more refined three-part distinction among platonist/nominalist categories can nonetheless provide unique insights into the core assumptions that underlie spatial ontologies, but (...) it also assists in critiquing alternative uses of nominalism, platonism, and both ontic and epistemic structural realism. (shrink)
Taking mathematics as a language based on empirical experience, I argue for an account of mathematics in which its objects are abstracta that describe and communicate the structure of reality based on some of our ancestral interactions with their environment. I argue that mathematics as a language is mostly invented, and it is mind-dependent in a specific sense. However, the bases of mathematics will characterize it as a real, non-fictional science of structures.
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)
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)
The formalist philosophy of mathematics (in its purest, most extreme version) is widely regarded as a “discredited position”. This pure and extreme version of formalism is called by some authors “game formalism”, because it is alleged to represent mathematics as a meaningless game with strings of symbols. Nevertheless, I would like to draw attention to some arguments in favour of game formalism as an appropriate philosophy of real mathematics. For the most part, these arguments have not yet been used or (...) were neglected in past discussions. (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)
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)
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)
Within the context of the Quine–Putnam indispensability argument, one discussion about the status of mathematics is concerned with the ‘Enhanced Indispensability Argument’, which makes explicit in what way mathematics is supposed to be indispensable in science, namely explanatory. If there are genuine mathematical explanations of empirical phenomena, an argument for mathematicalplatonism could be extracted by using inference to the best explanation. The best explanation of the primeness of the life cycles of Periodical Cicadas is genuinely (...) class='Hi'>mathematical, according to Baker :223–238, 2005; Br J Philos Sci 60:611–633, 2009). Furthermore, the result is then also used to strengthen the platonist position :779–793, 2017a). We pick up the circularity problem brought up by Leng Mathematical reasoning, heuristics and the development of mathematics, King’s College Publications, London, pp 167–189, 2005) and Bangu :13–20, 2008). We will argue that Baker’s attempt to solve this problem fails, if Hume’s Principle is analytic. We will also provide the opponent of the Enhanced Indispensability Argument with the so-called ‘interpretability strategy’, which can be used to come up with alternative explanations in case Hume’s Principle is non-analytic. (shrink)
French translation by G. B. Côté and Roger Lapalme of "A Geneticist's Roadmap to Sanity" (G. B. Côté, 2019) with added bibliography. -/- À voir le monde d’aujourd’hui, on pourrait croire que nous avons perdu la raison. Je veux explorer ici les fondements mêmes de notre existence. Je discuterai brièvement du libre arbitre, de l’éthique, de la religion, de la souffrance, du dualisme cartésien et de l’état de conscience, avec un arrière-plan promulguant l’importance de la physique quantique d’aujourd’hui et de (...) l’intemporel. Pour ce faire, je devrai d’abord établir que le platonisme mathématique est une prémisse essentielle pour qu’un univers (ou même un multivers) prenne forme, et j’introduirai les trois modes d’existence abstrait, virtuel et concret (en philosophie) correspondant respectivement aux concepts d’information, d’énergie et de masse (en physique). Cet article constitue un bref exposé de ma théorie du tout. (shrink)
It is our contention that an ontological commitment to propositions faces a number of problems; so many, in fact, that an attitude of realism towards propositions—understood the usual “platonistic” way, as a kind of mind- and language-independent abstract entity—is ultimately untenable. The particular worries about propositions that marshal parallel problems that Paul Benacerraf has raised for mathematical platonists. At the same time, the utility of “proposition-talk”—indeed, the apparent linguistic commitment evident in our use of 'that'-clauses (in offering explanations and (...) making predictions)—is also in need of explanation. We account for this with a fictionalist analysis of our use of 'that'-clauses. Our account avoids certain problems that arise for the usual error-theoretic versions of fictionalism because we apply the notion of semantic pretense to develop an alternative, pretense-involving, non-error-theoretic, fictionalist account of proposition-talk. (shrink)
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)
We are reliable about logic in the sense that we by-and-large believe logical truths and disbelieve logical falsehoods. Given that logic is an objective subject matter, it is difficult to provide a satisfying explanation of our reliability. This generates a significant epistemological challenge, analogous to the well-known Benacerraf-Field problem for mathematicalPlatonism. One initially plausible way to answer the challenge is to appeal to evolution by natural selection. The central idea is that being able to correctly deductively reason (...) conferred a heritable survival advantage upon our ancestors. However, there are several arguments that purport to show that evolutionary accounts cannot even in principle explain how it is that we are reliable about logic. In this paper, I address these arguments. I show that there is no general reason to think that evolutionary accounts are incapable of explaining our reliability about logic. (shrink)
In a lot of domains in metaphysics the tacit assumption has been that whichever metaphysical principles turn out to be true, these will be necessarily true. Let us call necessitarianism about some domain the thesis that the right metaphysics of that domain is necessary. Necessitarianism has flourished. In the philosophy of maths we find it held that if mathematical objects exist, then they do of necessity. Mathematical Platonists affirm the necessary existence of mathematical objects (see for instance (...) Hale and Wright 1992 and 1994; Wright 1983 and 1988; Schiffer 1996; Resnik 1997; Shapiro 1997 and Zalta 1988) while mathematical nominalists, usually in the form of fictionalists, hold that necessarily such objects fail to exist (see for instance Balaguer 1996 and 1998; Rosen 2001 and Yablo 2005). In metaphysics more generally, until recently it was more or less assumed that whatever the right account of composition—the account of under what conditions some xs compose a y—that account will be necessarily true (for a discussion of theories of composition see Simons 1987 and van Inwagen 1987 and 1990; the modal status of the composition relation is explicitly addressed in Schaffer 2007; Parsons 2006 and Cameron 2007). Similarly, it has generally been assumed that whatever the right account is of the nature of properties, whether they be universals, tropes, or whether nominalism is true, that account will be necessarily true (though see Rosen 2006 for a recent suggestion to the contrary). In considering theories of persistence it has been widely held that whether objects endure or perdure through time is a matter of necessity (Sider 2001; though see Lewis 1999 p227 who defends contingent perdurantism). And with respect to theories of time it is frequently held that whichever of the A- or B-theory is true is necessarily true. A-theorists often argue that there is time in a world only if the A-theory is true at that world (see for instance McTaggart 1903; Markosian 2004; Bigelow 1996; Craig 2001) while B-theorists often argue that the A-theory is internally inconsistent (Smart 1987; Mellor 1998; Savitt 2000 and Le Poidevin 1991). Once again, we find a few recent contingentist dissenters. Bourne (2006) suggests that it is a contingent feature of time that it is tensed, and thus that the A-theory is contingently true. Worlds in which there exist only B-theoretic properties are worlds with time, it is just that time in those worlds time is radically different to the way it is actually. Other defenders of the B-theory, though not expressly contingentists, do offer arguments against versions of the A-theory that try to show that such A-theories theories are inconsistent with the actual laws of nature (see for instance Saunders 2002 and Callender 2000); these arguments, at least, leave room for the possibility that the A-theories in question are contingently false (at least on the assumption that the laws of nature are themselves contingent, an assumption that not everyone accepts). Despite some notable exceptions, necessitarianism has flourished in many, if not most, domains in metaphysics. One such exception is Lewis’ famous defence of Humean supervenience as a contingent claim about our world. Lewis does not argue that necessarily, the supervenience base for all matters of fact in a world is nothing but a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact. Rather, he thinks that we have reason to think that our world is one in which Humean supervenience holds (see Lewis 1986 p9-10 and 1994). Another exception to the necessitarian orthodoxy is to be found in the lively debate about the modal status of the laws of nature. Here, if anything, contingentism has been the dominating force, with it generally being held that there are possible worlds in which different laws of nature hold (this view is defended by, among others, Lewis 1986 and 2010; Schaffer 2005 and Sidelle 2002). Necessitarian dissenters hold that the laws of nature are necessary, frequently because they think it is necessary that fundamental properties have the causal or nomic profiles they do (see for instance Shoemaker 1980 and 1988; Swoyer 1982; Bird 1995; Ellis and Lierse 1994). Nevertheless, when it comes to thinking about the nature of the laws themselves, the necessitarian presumption is back on firm footing. Though there is disagreement about whether the laws are generalisations that feature in the most virtuous true axiomatisation of all the particular matters of fact (often known as the Humean view of laws and defended by Ramsey 1978; Lewis 1986 and Beebee 2000) or whether laws are relations of necessity that hold between universals (a view defended by Armstrong 1983; Dretske 1977; Tooley 1977 and Carroll 1990) no one has seriously suggested that it might be a contingent matter which of these is the right account of laws. The necessitarian orthodoxy is not surprising since metaphysics is largely an a priori process. While a priori reasoning may be used to determine whether a proposition is necessary or contingent, it is not well placed (in the absence of a posteriori evidence) to determine whether a contingent proposition is actually true or false. Since metaphysicians aim to tell us which principles are true in which worlds, on the face of it the discovery that metaphysical principles are contingent seems to make part of the task of metaphysics epistemically intractable. In what follows I consider two reasons one might end up embracing contingentism and whether this would lead one into epistemic difficulty. The following section considers a route to contingent metaphysical truths that proceeds via a combination of conceptual necessities and empirical discoveries. Section 3 considers whether there might be synthetic contingent metaphysical truths, and the final section raises the question of whether if there were such truths we would be well placed to come to know them. (shrink)
Some hold that the lesson of Russell’s paradox and its relatives is that mathematical reality does not form a ‘definite totality’ but rather is ‘indefinitely extensible’. There can always be more sets than there ever are. I argue that certain contact puzzles are analogous to Russell’s paradox this way: they similarly motivate a vision of physical reality as iteratively generated. In this picture, the divisions of the continuum into smaller parts are ‘potential’ rather than ‘actual’. Besides the intrinsic interest (...) of this metaphysical picture, it has important consequences for the debate over absolute generality. It is often thought that ‘indefinite extensibility’ arguments at best make trouble for mathematical platonists; but the contact arguments show that nominalists face the same kind of difficulty, if they recognize even the metaphysical possibility of the picture I sketch. (shrink)
Translation in Greek of "A Geneticist's Roadmap to Sanity" (2019) by G.B. Côté. Μεταφράστηκε και στα Γαλλικά από τους Gilbert B. Côté και Roger Lapalme και προστέθηκε η βιβλιογραφία στις 28 του Απρίλη 2020: Pour comprendre le monde et revenir à la raison. La théorie du tout d'un généticien. Η ώθηση για τη συγγραφή ήταν η ανήθικη προεδρία του Donald J. Trump. Σε αυτό το κείμενο, θέλω να εξερευνήσω τα θεμέλια της ύπαρξής μας. Θα θίξω σύντομα την ενσυνείδηση, την ελεύθερη (...) βούληση, τη θρησκεία, την ηθική, τα βάσανα της ζωής , το πρόβλημα της δυαδικότητας του νου και του σώματος, την αχρονικότητα, τα πολλαπλά σύμπαντα και το ανθρώπινο πεπρωμένο. Για να διευκολύνω αυτήν την παρουσίαση, θα πρέπει πρώτα να δείξω ότι ο μαθηματικός πλατωνισμός είναι μια λογική αναγκαιότητα για την ύπαρξη οποιουδήποτε σύμπαντος, και θα εισαγάγω τους αφηρημένους, κβαντικούς και υλικούς τρόπους ύπαρξης (στη φιλοσοφία) που αντιστοιχούν στην πληροφόρηση, την ενέργεια και τη μάζα (στη φυσική). Το κείμενο αυτό αποτελεί μια σύνοψη της προσωπικής μου θεωρίας των πάντων. (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.
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