This paper criticizes the view that number words in argument position retain the meaning they have on an adjectival or determiner use, as argued by Hofweber :179–225, 2005) and Moltmann :499–534, 2013a, 2013b). In particular the paper re-evaluates syntactic evidence from German given in Moltmann to that effect.
The question whether numbers are objects is a central question in the philosophy of mathematics. Frege made use of a syntactic criterion for objethood: numbers are objects because there are singular terms that stand for them, and not just singular terms in some formal language, but in natural language in particular. In particular, Frege (1884) thought that both noun phrases like the number of planets and simple numerals like eight as in (1) are singular terms referring to numbers as (...) abstract objects. (shrink)
A god is a cosmic designer-creator. Atheism says the number of gods is 0. But it is hard to defeat the minimal thesis that some possible universe is actualized by some possible god. Monotheists say the number of gods is 1. Yet no degree of perfection can be coherently assigned to any unique god. Lewis says the number of gods is at least the second beth number. Yet polytheists cannot defend an arbitrary plural number of (...) gods. An alternative is that, for every ordinal, there is a god whose perfection is proportional to it. The n -th god actualizes the best universe(s) in the n -th level of an axiological hierarchy of possible universes. Despite its unorthodoxy, ordinal polytheism has many metaphysically attractive features and merits more serious study. (shrink)
Is there some large number of very mild hangnail pains, each experienced by a separate person, which would be worse than two years of excruciating torture, experienced by a single person? Many people have the intuition that the answer to this question is No. However, a host of philosophers have argued that, because we have no intuitive grasp of very large numbers, we should not trust such intuitions. I argue that there is decent intuitive support for the No answer, (...) which does not depend on our intuitively grasping or imagining very large numbers. (shrink)
Numbers are concepts whose content, structure, and organization are influenced by the material forms used to represent and manipulate them. Indeed, as argued here, it is the inclusion of multiple forms (distributed objects, fingers, single- and two-dimensional forms like pebbles and abaci, and written notations) that is the mechanism of numerical elaboration. Further, variety in employed forms explains at least part of the synchronic and diachronic variability that exists between and within cultural number systems. Material forms also impart characteristics (...) like linearity that may persist in the form of knowledge and behaviors, ultimately yielding numerical concepts that are irreducible to and functionally independent of any particular form. Material devices used to represent and manipulate numbers also interact with language in ways that reinforce or contrast different aspects of numerical cognition. Not only does this interaction potentially explain some of the unique aspects of numerical language, it suggests that the two are complementary but ultimately distinct means of accessing numerical intuitions and insights. The potential inclusion of materiality in contemporary research in numerical cognition is advocated, both for its explanatory power, as well as its influence on psychological, behavioral, and linguistic aspects of numerical cognition. (shrink)
The mapping of numbers onto space is fundamental to measurement and to mathematics. Is this mapping a cultural invention or a universal intuition shared by all humans regardless of culture and education? We probed number-space mappings in the Mundurucu, an Amazonian indigene group with a reduced numerical lexicon and little or no formal education. At all ages, the Mundurucu mapped symbolic and nonsymbolic numbers onto a logarithmic scale, whereas Western adults used linear mapping with small or symbolic numbers and (...) logarithmic mapping when numbers were presented nonsymbolically under conditions that discouraged counting. This indicates that the mapping of numbers onto space is a universal intuition and that this initial intuition of number is logarithmic. The concept of a linear number line appears to be a cultural invention that fails to develop in the absence of formal education. (shrink)
All humans share a universal, evolutionarily ancient approximate number system (ANS) that estimates and combines the numbers of objects in sets with ratio-limited precision. Interindividual variability in the acuity of the ANS correlates with mathematical achievement, but the causes of this correlation have never been established. We acquired psychophysical measures of ANS acuity in child and adult members of an indigene group in the Amazon, the Mundurucú, who have a very restricted numerical lexicon and highly variable access to mathematics (...) education. By comparing Mundurucú subjects with and without access to schooling, we found that education significantly enhances the acuity with which sets of concrete objects are estimated. These results indicate that culture and education have an important effect on basic number perception. We hypothesize that symbolic and nonsymbolic numerical thinking mutually enhance one another over the course of mathematics instruction. (shrink)
Context: The infinite has long been an area of philosophical and mathematical investigation. There are many puzzles and paradoxes that involve the infinite. Problem: The goal of this paper is to answer the question: Which objects are the infinite numbers (when order is taken into account)? Though not currently considered a problem, I believe that it is of primary importance to identify properly the infinite numbers. Method: The main method that I employ is conceptual analysis. In particular, I argue that (...) the infinite numbers should be as much like the finite numbers as possible. Results: Using finite numbers as our guide to the infinite numbers, it follows that infinite numbers are of the structure w + (w* + w) a + w*. This same structure also arises when a large finite number is under investigation. Implications: A first implication of the paper is that infinite numbers may be large finite numbers that have not been investigated fully. A second implication is that there is no number of finite numbers. Third, a number of paradoxes of the infinite are resolved. One change that should occur as a result of these findings is that “infinitely many” should refer to structures of the form w + (w* + w) a + w*; in contrast, there are “indefinitely many” natural numbers. Constructivist content: The constructivist perspective of the paper is a form of strict finitism. (shrink)
Pythagoras’s number doctrine had a great effect on the development of science. Number – the key to the highest reality, and such approach allowed Pythagoras to transform mathematics from craft into science, which continues implementation of its project of “digitization of being”. Pythagoras's project underwent considerable transformation, but it only means that the plan in knowledge is often far from result.
Number is a major object in mathematics. Mathematics is a discipline which studies the properties of a number. The object is expressible by mathematical language, which has been devised more rigorously than natural language. However, the language is not thoroughly free from natural language. Countability of natural number is also originated from natural language. It is necessary to understand how language leads a number into mathematics, its’ main playground.
An enduring puzzle in philosophy and developmental psychology is how young children acquire number concepts, in particular the concept of natural number. Most solutions to this problem conceptualize young learners as lone mathematicians who individually reconstruct the successor function and other sophisticated mathematical ideas. In this chapter, I argue for a crucial role of testimony in children’s acquisition of number concepts, both in the transfer of propositional knowledge (e.g., the cardinality concept), and in knowledge-how (e.g., the counting (...) routine). (shrink)
Iterability, the repetition which alters the idealization it reproduces, is the engine of deconstructive movement. The fact that all experience is transformative-dissimulative in its essence does not, however, mean that the momentum of change is the same for all situations. Derrida adapts Husserl's distinction between a bound and a free ideality to draw up a contrast between mechanical mathematical calculation, whose in-principle infinite enumerability is supposedly meaningless, empty of content, and therefore not in itself subject to alteration through contextual change, (...) and idealities such as spoken or written language which are directly animated by a meaning-to-say and are thus immediately affected by context. Derrida associates the dangers of cultural stagnation, paralysis and irresponsibility with the emptiness of programmatic, mechanical, formulaic thinking. This paper endeavors to show that enumerative calculation is not context-independent in itself but is instead immediately infused with alteration, thereby making incoherent Derrida's claim to distinguish between a free and bound ideality. Along with the presumed formal basis of numeric infinitization, Derrida's non-dialectical distinction between forms of mechanical or programmatic thinking (the Same) and truly inventive experience (the absolute Other) loses its justification. In the place of a distinction between bound and free idealities is proposed a distinction between two poles of novelty; the first form of novel experience would be characterized by affectivites of unintelligibility , confusion and vacuity, and the second by affectivities of anticipatory continuity and intimacy. (shrink)
The nature of time is perceived by intellectuals variedly. An attempt is made in this paper to reconcile such varied views in the light of the Upanishads and related Indian spiritual and philosophical texts. The complex analysis of modern mathematics is used to represent the nature and presentation physical and psychological times so differentiated. Also the relation between time and energy is probed using uncertainty relations, forms of energy and phases of matter.
This paper argues that Carnap both did not view and should not have viewed Frege's project in the foundations of mathematics as misguided metaphysics. The reason for this is that Frege's project was to give an explication of number in a very Carnapian sense — something that was not lost on Carnap. Furthermore, Frege gives pragmatic justification for the basic features of his system, especially where there are ontological considerations. It will be argued that even on the question of (...) the independent existence of abstract objects, Frege and Carnap held remarkably similar views. I close with a discussion of why, despite all this, Frege would not accept the principle of tolerance. (shrink)
On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals are endowed with a “number sense”, or approximate number system (ANS), that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques, with critics maintaining either that numerical content is absent altogether, or else that some primitive analog of number (‘numerosity’) is represented as opposed to number itself. We distinguish three arguments for these claims – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – (...) and show that none succeed. We then highlight positive reasons for thinking that the ANS genuinely represents numbers. The upshot is that proponents of the orthodox view should not feel troubled by recent critiques of their position. (shrink)
I argue that the human mind includes an innate domain-specific system for representing precise small numerical quantities. This theory contrasts with object-tracking theories and with domain-general theories that only make use of mental models. I argue that there is a good amount of evidence for innate representations of small numerical quantities and that such a domain-specific system has explanatory advantages when infants’ poor working memory is taken into account. I also show that the mental models approach requires previously unnoticed domain-specific (...) structure and consequently that there is no domain-general alternative to an innate domain-specific small number system. (shrink)
What is a number? Answering this will answer questions about its philosophical foundations - rational numbers, the complex numbers, imaginary numbers. If we are to write or talk about something, it is helpful to know whether it exists, how it exists, and why it exists, just from a common-sense point of view [Quine, 1948, p. 6]. Generally, there does not seem to be any disagreement among mathematicians, scientists, and logicians about numbers existing in some way, but currently, in the (...) mainstream arena only definitions, descriptions of properties, and effects are presented as evidence. Enough historical description of numbers in history provides an empirical basis of number, although a case can be made that numbers do not exist by themselves empirically. Correspondingly, numbers exist as abstractions. All the while, though, these "descriptions" beg the question of what numbers are ontologically. Advocates for numbers being the ultimate reality have the problem of wrestling with the nature of reality. I start on the road to discovering the ontology of number by looking at where people have talked about numbers as already existing: history. Of course, we need to know not only what ontology is but the problems of identifying one, leading to the selection between metaphysics and provisional approaches. While we seem to be dimensionally limited, at least we can identify a more suitable bootstrapping ontology than mere definitions, leading us to the unity of opposites. The rest of the paper details how this is done and modifies Peano's Postulates. (shrink)
In this paper, two concepts of completing an infinite number of tasks are considered. After discussing supertasks, equisupertasks are introduced. I suggest that equisupertasks are logically possible.
The nature of time is perceived by intellectuals variedly. An attempt is made in this paper to reconcile such varied views in the light of the Upanishads and related Indian spiritual and philosophical texts. The complex analysis of modern mathematics is used to represent the nature and presentation physical and psychological times so differentiated. Also the relation between time and energy is probed using uncertainty relations, forms of energy and phases of matter. Implications to time-dependent Schrodinger wave equation and uncertainty (...) principle are hinted. (shrink)
Francesca Biagioli’s Space, Number, and Geometry from Helmholtz to Cassirer is a substantial and pathbreaking contribution to the energetic and growing field of researchers delving into the physics, physiology, psychology, and mathematics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book provides a bracing and painstakingly researched re-appreciation of the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Cassirer, and of their place in the tradition, and is worth study for that alone. The contributions of the book go far beyond that, (...) however. It is a clear, accurate, and deep account of fascinating and philosophically momentous implications of the move to relativity theory. (shrink)
Quantity is the first category that Aristotle lists after substance. It has extraordinary epistemological clarity: "2+2=4" is the model of a self-evident and universally known truth. Continuous quantities such as the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle are as clearly known as discrete ones. The theory that mathematics was "the science of quantity" was once the leading philosophy of mathematics. The article looks at puzzles in the classification and epistemology of quantity.
في علم الأوبئة، يمثل رقم التكاثر الأساسي عدد الحالات التي تُنتجها حالة واحدة مُصابة خلال فترة العدوى بين مجموعة غير مُصابة،. وبصفة عامة، إذا كان رقم التكاثر أقل من (1)، فإن فرصة العدوى ستتضاءل حتى يختفي المرض تمامًا، أما إن كان أكبر من (1)، فإن كل شخص مُصاب سوف ينقل العدوى إلى شخصٍ آخر على الأقل، مع الوضع في الاعتبار عدم تجانس المجتمعات من حيث نمط الحياة. وتتراوح التقديرات الحالية لعدد التكاثر الأساسي لفيروس كورونا المستجد (أو كوفيد-19) بين 2 و3، (...) ليقترب بهذا من عدد التكاثر الأساسي لفيروس «سارس»، الذي تراوح بين 2 و4 في سنة 2003. (shrink)
Donors to global health programs and policymakers within national health systems have to make difficult decisions about how to allocate scarce health care resources. Principled ways to make these decisions all make some use of summary measures of health, which provide a common measure of the value (or disvalue) of morbidity and mortality. They thereby allow comparisons between health interventions with different effects on the patterns of death and ill health within a population. The construction of a summary measure of (...) health requires that a number be assigned to the harm of death. But the harm of death is currently a matter of debate: different philosophical theories assign very different values to the harm of death at different ages. This chapter considers how we should assign numbers to the harm of deaths at different ages in the face of uncertainty and disagreement. (shrink)
Carey leaves unaddressed an important evolutionary puzzle: In the absence of a numeral list, how could a concept of natural number ever have arisen in the first place? Here we suggest that the initial development of natural number must have bootstrapped on a material culture scaffold of some sort, and illustrate how this might have occurred using strings of beads.
The mathematician Georg Cantor strongly believed in the existence of actually infinite numbers and sets. Cantor’s “actualism” went against the Aristotelian tradition in metaphysics and mathematics. Under the pressures to defend his theory, his metaphysics changed from Spinozistic monism to Leibnizian voluntarist dualism. The factor motivating this change was two-fold: the desire to avoid antinomies associated with the notion of a universal collection and the desire to avoid the heresy of necessitarian pantheism. We document the changes in Cantor’s thought with (...) reference to his main philosophical-mathematical treatise, the Grundlagen (1883) as well as with reference to his article, “Über die verschiedenen Standpunkte in bezug auf das aktuelle Unendliche” (“Concerning Various Perspectives on the Actual Infinite”) (1885). (shrink)
Faced with the choice between saving one person and saving two others, what should we do? It seems intuitively plausible that we ought to save the two, and many forms of consequentialists offer a straightforward rationale for the intuition by appealing to interpersonal aggregation. But still many other philosophers attempt to provide a justification for the duty to save the greater number without combining utilities or claims of separate individuals. I argue against one such attempt proposed by Iwao Hirose. (...) Despite being consequentialist, his argument is aggregation-free since it relies on a non-aggregative value judgement method, instead of interpersonal aggregation, to establish that (other things being equal) a state of affairs is better when more people survive therein. I do not take issue with its consequentialist element; rather, I claim that there is no good reason to adopt the method in question, and thus no good reason to be moved by his argument overall. What we are in search of is not merely a logically possible method that can produce the conclusion that we already want, but one that we have good reason to adopt. Hirose's argument elegantly demonstrates how it could possibly be true that it is right to save the greater number; but it fails to show that we have reason to believe so - even when we do not combine the interests of different individuals. (shrink)
Where do human numerical abilities come from? This article is a commentary on Leibovich et al.’s “From 'sense of number' to 'sense of magnitude' —The role of continuous magnitudes in numerical cognition”. Leibovich et al. argue against nativist views of numerical development by noting limitations in newborns’ vision and limitations regarding newborns’ ability to individuate objects. I argue that these considerations do not undermine competing nativist views and that Leibovich et al.'s model itself presupposes that infant learners have numerical (...) representations. (shrink)
It is widely agreed by philosophers that the so-called “Frege-Russell definition of natural number” is actually an assertion concerning the nature of the numbers and that it cannot be regarded as a definition in the ordinary mathematical sense. On the basis of the reasoning in this paper it is clear that the Frege-Russell definition contradicts the following three principles (taken together): (1) each number is the same entity in each possible world, (2) each number exists in each (...) possible world, (3) some entities existing in the actual world do not exist in every possible world. Since these principles seem to be true, the paper is a refutation of the Frege-Russell definition. The paper does more. It shows that the contradictory of the Frege-Russell definition follows even when principles 2 and 3 are replaced by one considerably weaker principle. The ideas contained in the paper are related to two earlier objections to the definition. The first, sometimes attributed to the mathematician, C. S. Keyser, is that existence of the numbers as defined implies the existence of infinitely many particulars in each possible world. The second is, in effect, an idea which is said to have led Whitehead to reject the definition of number to which he had subscribed in Principia Mathematica. Whitehead is supposed to have said that he could not believe that the number two changes every “time twins are born”. The mathematician H. Jeffreys expressed similar ideas [Philos. of Sci. 5 (1938), 434–451]. One of the merits of the author’s work is that it refutes the Frege-Russell definition without the need to take sides on controversial points presupposed by the Keyser and Whitehead objections. The objections made by the author are therefore not to be identified with the Keyser and Whitehead objections. Even if the author’s work is to be regarded as a refinement and integration of previous ideas, it is nevertheless a contribution—not only because the basic points are well worth repeating but also because the refinements are logically significant improvements and because the author has stated them clearly and concisely in the idiom of contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper Russell’s definition of number is criticized. Russell’s assertion that a number is a particular kind of set implies that number has the properties of a set. It is argued that this would imply that a number contains elements and that this does not conform to our intuitive notion of number. An alternative definition is presented in which number is not seen as an object, but rather as a process and is related (...) to the act of counting and is tightly bound up with the idea of time. Working from the idea that the description of a thing is not the thing itself, it is argued that a function should not be seen as a subset of the Cartesian product of two sets but can be described in this way. Number is then defined as a particular type of bijective function rather than a set. Definitions of equality and addition are developed. In defining addition an interesting error in Russell’s definition of addition is corrected. (shrink)
While there has been significant philosophical debate on whether nonlinguistic animals can possess conceptual capabilities, less time has been devoted to considering 'talking' animals, such as parrots. When they are discussed, their capabilities are often downplayed as mere mimicry. The most explicit philosophical example of this can be seen in Brandom's frequent comparisons of parrots and thermostats. Brandom argues that because parrots (like thermostats) cannot grasp the implicit inferential connections between concepts, their vocal articulations do not actually have any conceptual (...) content. In contrast, I argue that Pepperberg's work with Alex (and other African grey parrots) provides evidence that the vocal articulations of at least some parrots have conceptual content. Using Frege's insight that numbers assert something about a concept, I argue that Alex's ability to answer the question "How many?" depended upon a prior grasp of conceptual content. Developing this claim, I argue that Alex's arithmetical abilities show that he was capable of using numbers as both concepts and objects. Frege's theoretical insight and Pepperberg's empirical work provide reason to reconsider the capabilities of parrots, as well as what sorts of tasks provide evidence for conceptual content. (shrink)
Two main cognitive theories predict that people find refuting evidence that falsifies their theorising difficult, if not impossible to consider, even though such reasoning may be pivotal to grounding their everyday thoughts in reality (i.e., Poletiek, 1996; Klayman & Ha, 1987). In the classic 2-4-6 number sequence task devised by psychologists to test such reasoning skills in a simulated environment – people fail the test more often than not. In the 2-4-6 task participants try to discover what rule the (...)number triple 2-4-6 conforms to. The rule is ‘ascending numbers’, but it is tricky to discover this rule. Participants tend to generate hypotheses with the properties of the 2-4-6 triple, for example, ‘even numbers ascending in twos’. They must search for evidence to test whether their hypothesis is the rule. But experimental evidence has shown that they tend to generate confirming triples that they expect to be consistent with their hypothesis rather than inconsistent falsifying triples. Counter to the two main hypothesis testing theories this paper demonstrates that falsification is possible in five 2-4-6 task experiments when participants consider an Imaginary Participant’s hypothesis. Experiment 1 and 2 show that competition with an opponent hypothesis tester facilitates falsification. Experiments 3 to 5 show that the consideration of an alternative hypothesis helps this falsification of hypotheses lead to rule discovery. The implications of the results for theories of hypothesis testing and reasoning are discussed. (shrink)
This note briefly discusses the observation of elapsed time in a flat universe while exploring the argument of past-eternal time versus emergent time in cosmology. A flat universe with an incomplete past forever has a finite age. Despite an infinite number of Planck time coordinates independent of phenomena and endless expansion, a flat universe never develops an age with an infinite number of Planck times. This observation indicates the impossibility of infinitely elapsed time in the future or past, (...) which limits acceptable scientific models of cosmology. (shrink)
In ‘The Train Paradox’, I argued that sequential random selections from the natural numbers would grow through time. I used this claim to present a paradox. In response to this proposed paradox, Jon Pérez Laraudogoitia has argued that random selections from the natural numbers do not grow through time. In this paper, I defend and expand on the argument that random selections from the natural numbers grow through time. I also situate this growth of random selections in the context of (...) my overall work on infinite number, which involves two main claims: 1) infinite numbers, properly understood, are the infinite natural numbers in a nonstandard model of the reals, and 2) ω is potentially infinite. (shrink)
The article examines Greek philosopher Aristotle's understanding of mathematical numbers as pluralities of discreet units and the relations of unity and multiplicity. Topics discussed include Aristotle's view that a mathematical number has determinate properties, a contrast between Aristotle and French philosopher René Descartes in terms of their understanding of number and Aristotle's description of ways to understand eidetic numbers.
Albert Einstein once made the following remark about "the world of our sense experiences": "the fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle." (1936, p. 351) A few decades later, another physicist, Eugene Wigner, wondered about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences, concluding his classic article thus: "the miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve" (1960, p. 14). (...) At least three factors are involved in Einstein's and Wigner's miracles: the physical world, mathematics, and human cognition. One way to relate these factors is to ask how the universe could possibly be structured in such a way that mathematics would be applicable to it, and we would be able to understand that application. This is roughly Wigner's question. Alternatively, the way of the mathematical naturalist is to argue that we abstract certain properties from the world, perhaps using our bodies and physical tools, thereby articulating basic mathematical concepts, which we continue building into the complex formal structures of mathematics. John Stuart Mill, Penelope Maddy, and Rafael Nuñez teach this strategy of cognitive abstraction, in very different manners. But what if the very concepts and basic principles of mathematics were built into our cognitive structure itself? Given such a cognitive a priori mathematical endowment, would the miracles of the link between world and cognition (Einstein) and mathematics and world (Wigner) not vanish, or at least significantly diminish? This is the stance of Stanislas Deheane and Elizabeth Brannon's 2011 anthology, following a venerable rationalist tradition including Plato and Immanuel Kant. (shrink)
Building on theoretical insights and rich experimental data of our preprints, we present here new theoretical and experimental results in three interrelated approaches to the Collatz problem and its generalizations: algorithmic decidability, random behavior, and Diophantine representation of related discrete dynamical systems, and their cyclic and divergent properties.
An overview of what Frege accomplishes in Part II of Grundgesetze, which contains proofs of axioms for arithmetic and several additional results concerning the finite, the infinite, and the relationship between these notions. One might think of this paper as an extremely compressed form of Part II of my book Reading Frege's Grundgesetze.
The present essay examines and critically discusses Paul Benacerraf's antiplatonist argument of "What Numbers Could Not Be." In the course of defending platonism against Benacerraf's semantic skepticism, I develop a novel platonist analysis of the content of arithmetic on the basis of which the necessary existence of the natural numbers and the nature of numerical reference are explained.
I argue for the Wittgensteinian thesis that mathematical statements are expressions of norms, rather than descriptions of the world. An expression of a norm is a statement like a promise or a New Year's resolution, which says that someone is committed or entitled to a certain line of action. A expression of a norm is not a mere description of a regularity of human behavior, nor is it merely a descriptive statement which happens to entail a norms. The view can (...) be thought of as a sort of logicism for the logical expressivist---a person who believes that the purpose of logical language is to make explicit commitments and entitlements that are implicit in ordinary practice. The thesis that mathematical statements are expression of norms is a kind of logicism, not because it says that mathematics can be reduced to logic, but because it says that mathematical statements play the same role as logical statements. ;I contrast my position with two sets of views, an empiricist view, which says that mathematical knowledge is acquired and justified through experience, and a cluster of nativist and apriorist views, which say that mathematical knowledge is either hardwired into the human brain, or justified a priori, or both. To develop the empiricist view, I look at the work of Kitcher and Mill, arguing that although their ideas can withstand the criticisms brought against empiricism by Frege and others, they cannot reply to a version of the critique brought by Wittgenstein in the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. To develop the nativist and apriorist views, I look at the work of contemporary developmental psychologists, like Gelman and Gallistel and Karen Wynn, as well as the work of philosophers who advocate the existence of a mathematical intuition, such as Kant, Husserl, and Parsons. After clarifying the definitions of "innate" and "a priori," I argue that the mechanisms proposed by the nativists cannot bring knowledge, and the existence of the mechanisms proposed by the apriorists is not supported by the arguments they give. (shrink)
The meeting focused on uses of ontologies, with a special focus on spatial ontologies, in addressing the ever increasing needs faced by biology and medicine to cope with ever expanding quantities of data. To provide effective solutions computers need to integrate data deriving from myriad heterogeneous sources by bringing the data together within a single framework. The meeting brought together leaders in the field of what are called "top-level ontologies" to address this issue, and to establish strategies among leaders in (...) the field of biomedical ontology for the creation of interoperable biomedical ontologies which will serve the goal of useful data integration. (shrink)
Is calculation possible without language? Or is the human ability for arithmetic dependent on the language faculty? To clarify the relation between language and arithmetic, we studied numerical cognition in speakers of Mundurukú, an Amazonian language with a very small lexicon of number words. Although the Mundurukú lack words for numbers beyond 5, they are able to compare and add large approximate numbers that are far beyond their naming range. However, they fail in exact arithmetic with numbers larger than (...) 4 or 5. Our results imply a distinction between a nonverbal system of number approximation and a language-based counting system for exact number and arithmetic. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple model to estimate the number of languages that existed throughout history, and considers philosophical and linguistic implications of the findings. The estimated number is 150,000 plus or minus 50,000. Because only few of those remain, and there is no reason to believe that that remainder is a statistically representative sample, we should be very cautious about universalistic claims based on existing linguistic variation.
Strong Composition as Identity is the thesis that necessarily, for any xs and any y, those xs compose y iff those xs are non-distributively identical to y. Some have argued against this view as follows: if some many things are non-distributively identical to one thing, then what’s true of the many must be true of the one. But since the many are many in number whereas the one is not, the many cannot be identical to the one. Hence is (...) mistaken. Although I am sympathetic to this objection, in this paper, I present two responses on behalf of the theorist. I also show that once the defender of accepts one of these two responses, that defender will be able to answer The Special Composition Question. (shrink)
Can we represent number approximately? A seductive reductionist notion is that participants in number tasks rely on continuous extent cues (e.g.,area) and therefore that the representations underlying performance lack numerical content. I suggest that this notion embraces a misconception: that perceptual input determines conceptual content.
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