On a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals possess a “number sense,” or approximate number system, that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques that question whether the ANS genuinely represents number. We distinguish three lines of critique – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. We then provide positive reasons to think that the ANS genuinely represents numbers, and not just non-numerical confounds or exotic substitutes (...) for number, such as “numerosities” or “quanticals,” as critics propose. In so doing, we raise a neglected question: numbers of what kind? Proponents of the orthodox view have been remarkably coy on this issue. But this is unsatisfactory since the predictions of the orthodox view, including the situations in which the ANS is expected to succeed or fail, turn on the kind of number being represented. In response, we propose that the ANS represents not only natural numbers, but also non-natural rational numbers. It does not represent irrational numbers, however, and thereby fails to represent the real numbers more generally. This distances our proposal from existing conjectures, refines our understanding of the ANS, and paves the way for future research. (shrink)
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.
According to a tradition stemming from Quine and Putnam, we have the same broadly inductive reason for believing in numbers as we have for believing in electrons: certain theories that entail that there are numbers are better, qua explanations of our evidence, than any theories that do not. This paper investigates how modal theories of the form ‘Possibly, the concrete world is just as it in fact is and T’ and ‘Necessarily, if standard mathematics is true and the (...) concrete world is just as it in fact is, then T’ bear on this claim. It concludes that, while analogies with theories that attempt to eliminate unobservable concrete entities provide good reason to regard theories of the former sort as explanatorily bad, this reason does not apply to theories of the latter sort. (shrink)
With the aid of some results from current linguistic theory I examine a recent anti-Fregean line with respect to hybrid talk of numbers and ordinary things, such as ‘the number of moons of Jupiter is four’. I conclude that the anti-Fregean line with respect to these sentences is indefensible.
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 (...) class='Hi'>numbers as abstract objects. (shrink)
A common view is that natural language treats numbers as abstract objects, with expressions like the number of planets, eight, as well as the number eight acting as referential terms referring to numbers. In this paper I will argue that this view about reference to numbers in natural language is fundamentally mistaken. A more thorough look at natural language reveals a very different view of the ontological status of natural numbers. On this view, numbers are (...) not primarily treated abstract objects, but rather 'aspects' of pluralities of ordinary objects, namely number tropes, a view that in fact appears to have been the Aristotelian view of numbers. Natural language moreover provides support for another view of the ontological status of numbers, on which natural numbers do not act as entities, but rather have the status of plural properties, the meaning of numerals when acting like adjectives. This view matches contemporary approaches in the philosophy of mathematics of what Dummett called the Adjectival Strategy, the view on which number terms in arithmetical sentences are not terms referring to numbers, but rather make contributions to generalizations about ordinary (and possible) objects. It is only with complex expressions somewhat at the periphery of language such as the number eight that reference to pure numbers is permitted. (shrink)
One of the most important abilities we have as humans is the ability to think about number. In this chapter, we examine the question of whether there is an essential connection between language and number. We provide a careful examination of two prominent theories according to which concepts of the positive integers are dependent on language. The first of these claims that language creates the positive integers on the basis of an innate capacity to represent real numbers. The second (...) claims that language’s function is to integrate contents from modules that humans share with other animals. We argue that neither model is successful. (shrink)
David Hilbert's finitistic standpoint is a conception of elementary number theory designed to answer the intuitionist doubts regarding the security and certainty of mathematics. Hilbert was unfortunately not exact in delineating what that viewpoint was, and Hilbert himself changed his usage of the term through the 1920s and 30s. The purpose of this paper is to outline what the main problems are in understanding Hilbert and Bernays on this issue, based on some publications by them which have so far received (...) little attention, and on a number of philosophical reconstructions of the viewpoint (in particular, by Hand, Kitcher, and Tait). (shrink)
Do scientific theories limit human knowledge? In other words, are there physical variables hidden by essence forever? We argue for negative answers and illustrate our point on chaotic classical dynamical systems. We emphasize parallels with quantum theory and conclude that the common real numbers are, de facto, the hidden variables of classical physics. Consequently, real numbers should not be considered as ``physically real" and classical mechanics, like quantum physics, is indeterministic.
I begin with a personal confession. Philosophical discussions of existence have always bored me. When they occur, my eyes glaze over and my attention falters. Basically ontological questions often seem best decided by banging on the table--rocks exist, fairies do not. Argument can appear long-winded and miss the point. Sometimes a quick distinction resolves any apparent difficulty. Does a falling tree in an earless forest make noise, ie does the noise exist? Well, if noise means that an ear must be (...) there to hear it, then the answer to the question is evidently "no." But if noise means that, if there were (counterfactually) someone there, then he would hear it, then just as obviously, the answer becomes "yes.". (shrink)
Is the way we use propositions to individuate beliefs and other intentional states analogous to the way we use numbers to measure weights and other physical magnitudes? In an earlier paper [2], I argued that there is an important disanalogy. One and the same weight can be 'related to' different numbers under different units of measurement. Moreover, the choice of a unit of measurement is arbitrary,in the sense that which way we choose doesn't affect the weight attributed to (...) the object. But it makes little sense to say that one and the same belief can be related to different propositions: different proposition means different belief. So there is no analogous arbitrary choice. (shrink)
I follow standard mathematical practice and theory to argue that the natural numbers are the finite von Neumann ordinals. I present the reasons standardly given for identifying the natural numbers with the finite von Neumann's. I give a detailed mathematical demonstration that 0 is {} and for every natural number n, n is the set of all natural numbers less than n. Natural numbers are sets. They are the finite von Neumann ordinals.
The low representation (< 30%) of women in philosophy in English-speaking countries has generated much discussion, both in academic circles and the public sphere. It is sometimes suggested (Haslanger 2009) that unconscious biases, acting at every level in the field, may be grounded in gendered schemas of philosophers and in the discipline more widely, and that actions to make philosophy a more welcoming place for women should address such schemas. However, existing data are too limited to fully warrant such an (...) explanation, which therefore will not satisfy those in favor of the status quo or those who argue against the need to address gender imbalance. In this paper, we propose measures to improve the profession that ought to be implemented without referring explicitly to this underrepresentation or to the climate for women and other underrepresented groups. Such recommendations are based on empirical research already carried out in other disciplines and do not rest on whether it is possible to identify the cause of this low representation. We argue that we need not wait for new or better data to ensure that fairer practices are enacted for women, other underrepresented groups, and everybody else, if only out of precaution. (shrink)
You ought to save a larger group of people rather than a distinct smaller group of people, all else equal. A consequentialist may say that you ought to do so because this produces the most good. If a non-consequentialist rejects this explanation, what alternative can he or she give? This essay defends the following explanation, as a solution to the so-called numbers problem. Its two parts can be roughly summarised as follows. First, you are morally required to want the (...) survival of each stranger for its own sake. Secondly, you are rationally required to achieve as many of these ends as possible, if you have these ends. (shrink)
John Taurek has argued that, where choices must be made between alternatives that affect different numbers of people, the numbers are not, by themselves, morally relevant. This is because we "must" take "losses-to" the persons into account (and these don't sum), but "must not" consider "losses-of" persons (because we must not treat persons like objects). I argue that the numbers are always ethically relevant, and that they may sometimes be the decisive consideration.
This chapter presents arguments for two slightly different versions of the thesis that the value of persons is incomparable. Both arguments allege an incompatibility between the demands of a certain kind of practical reasoning and the presuppositions of value comparisons. The significance of these claims is assessed in the context of the “Numbers problem”—the question of whether one morally ought to benefit one group of potential aid recipients rather than another simply because they are greater in number. It is (...) argued that many of the popular approaches to this problem—even ones that avoid the aggregation of personal value—are imperiled by the incomparability theses. -/- . (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)
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)
In this paper, I suggest that infinite numbers are large finite numbers, and that infinite numbers, properly understood, are 1) of the structure omega + (omega* + omega)Ө + omega*, and 2) the part is smaller than the whole. I present an explanation of these claims in terms of epistemic limitations. I then consider the importance, part of which is demonstrating the contradiction that lies at the heart of Cantorian set theory: the natural numbers are too (...) large to be counted by any finite number, but too small to be counted by any infinite number – there is no number of natural numbers. (shrink)
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)
Philosophers of science are increasingly arguing for the importance of doing scientifically- and socially-engaged work, suggesting that we need to reduce barriers to extra-disciplinary engagement and broaden our impact. Yet, we currently lack empirical data to inform these discussions, leaving a number of important questions unanswered. How common is it for philosophers of science to engage other communities, and in what ways are they engaging? What barriers are most prevalent when it comes to broadly disseminating one’s work or collaborating with (...) others? To what extent do philosophers of science actually value an engaged approach? Our project addresses this gap in our collective knowledge by providing empirical data regarding the state of philosophy of science today. We report the results of a survey of 299 philosophers of science about their attitudes towards and experiences with engaging those outside the discipline. Our data suggest that a significant majority of philosophers of science think it is important for non-philosophers to read and make use of their work; most are engaging with communities outside the discipline; and many think philosophy of science, as a discipline, has an obligation to ensure it has a broader impact. Interestingly, however, many of these same philosophers believe engaged work is generally undervalued in the discipline. We think these findings call for cautious optimism on the part of those who value engaged work—while there seems to be more interest in engaging other communities than many assume, significant barriers still remain. (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 (...) class='Hi'>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)
Since independence, at least 28 African countries have legalized some form of gambling. Yet a range of informal gambling activities have also flourished, often provoking widespread public concern about the negative social and economic impact of unregulated gambling on poor communities. This article addresses an illegal South African numbers game called fahfee. Drawing on interviews with players, operators, and regulatory officials, this article explores two aspects of this game. First, it explores the lives of both players and runners, as (...) well as the clandestine world of the Chinese operators who control the game. Second, the article examines the subjective motivations and aspirations of players, and asks why they continue to play, despite the fact that their aggregate losses easily outstrip their aggregate gains. In contrast with those who reduce its appeal simply to the pursuit of wealth, I conclude that, for the (mostly) black, elderly, working class women who play fahfee several times a week, the associated trade-off—regular, small losses, versus the social enjoyment of playing and the prospect of occasional but realistic windfalls—takes on a whole new meaning, and preferences for relatively lumpy rather than steady consumption streams help explain the continued attraction of fahfee. This reinforces the need to understand players’ own accounts of gambling utility rather than simply to moralistically condemn gambling or to dismiss gamblers behaviour as irrational. (shrink)
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.
The present paper deals with the ontological status of numbers and considers Frege ́s proposal in Grundlagen upon the background of the Post-Kantian semantic turn in analytical philosophy. Through a more systematic study of his philosophical premises, it comes to unearth a first level paradox that would unset earlier still than it was exposed by Russell. It then studies an alternative path, that departin1g from Frege’s initial premises, drives to a conception of numbers as synthetic a priori in (...) a more Kantian sense. On this basis, it tentatively explores a possible derivation of basic logical rules on their behalf, suggesting a more rudimentary basis to inferential thinking, which supports reconsidering the difference between logical thinking and AI. Finally, it reflects upon the contributions of this approach to the problem of the a priori. (shrink)
The Introduction to "Knowledge, Number and Reality. Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack" provides an overview over Hossack's work and the contributions to the volume.
This paper discusses the "numbers problem," the problem of explaining why you should save more people rather than fewer when forced to choose. Existing non-consequentialist approaches to the problem appeal to fairness to explain why. I argue that this is a mistake and that we can give a more satisfying answer by appealing to requirements of charity or beneficence.
Numbers without Science opposes the Quine-Putnam indispensability argument, seeking to undermine the argument and reduce its profound influence. Philosophers rely on indispensability to justify mathematical knowledge using only empiricist epistemology. I argue that we need an independent account of our knowledge of mathematics. The indispensability argument, in broad form, consists of two premises. The major premise alleges that we are committed to mathematical objects if science requires them. The minor premise alleges that science in fact requires mathematical objects. The (...) most common rejection of the argument denies its minor premise by introducing scientific theories which do not refer to mathematical objects. Hartry Field has shown how we can reformulate some physical theories without mathematical commitments. I argue that Field’s preference for intrinsic explanation, which underlies his reformulation, is ill-motivated, and that his resultant fictionalism suffers unacceptable consequences. I attack the major premise instead. I argue that Quine provides a mistaken criterion for ontic commitment. Our uses of mathematics in scientific theory are instrumental and do not commit us to mathematical objects. Furthermore, even if we accept Quine’s criterion for ontic commitment, the indispensability argument justifies only an anemic version of mathematics, and does not yield traditional mathematical objects. The first two chapters of the dissertation develop these results for Quine’s indispensability argument. In the third chapter, I apply my findings to other contemporary indispensabilists, specifically the structuralists Michael Resnik and Stewart Shapiro. In the fourth chapter, I show that indispensability arguments which do not rely on Quine’s holism, like that of Putnam, are even less successful. Also in Chapter 4, I show how Putnam’s work in the philosophy of mathematics is unified around the indispensability argument. In the last chapter of the dissertation, I conclude that we need an account of mathematical knowledge which does not appeal to empirical science and which does not succumb to mysticism and speculation. Briefly, my strategy is to argue that any defensible solution to the demarcation problem of separating good scientific theories from bad ones will find mathematics to be good, if not empirical, science. (shrink)
In his [1937, 1938], Paul Dirac proposed his “Large Number Hypothesis” (LNH), as a speculative law, based upon what we will call the “Large Number Coincidences” (LNC’s), which are essentially “coincidences” in the ratios of about six large dimensionless numbers in physics. Dirac’s LNH postulates that these numerical coincidences reflect a deeper set of law-like relations, pointing to a revolutionary theory of cosmology. This led to substantial work, including the development of Dirac’s later [1969/74] cosmology, and other alternative cosmologies, (...) such as the Brans-Dicke modification of GTR, and to extensive empirical tests. We may refer to the generic hypothesis of “Large Number Relations” (LNR’s), as the proposal that there are lawlike relations of some kind between the dimensionless numbers, not necessarily those proposed in Dirac’s early LNH. Such relations would have a profound effect on our concepts of physics, but they remain shrouded in mystery. Although Dirac’s specific proposals for LNR theories have been largely rejected, the subject retains interest, especially among cosmologists seeking to test possible variations in fundamental constants, and to explain dark energy or the cosmological constant. In the first two sections here we briefly summarize the basic concepts of LNR’s. We then introduce an alternative LNR theory, using a systematic formalism to express variable transformations between conventional measurement variables and the true variables of the theory. We demonstrate some consistency results and review the evidence for changes in the gravitational constant G. The theory adopted in the strongest tests of Ġ/G, by the Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR) experiments, assumes: Ġ/G = 3(dr/dt)/r – 2(dP/dt)/P – (dm/dt)/m, as a fundamental relationship. Experimental measurements show the RHS to be close to zero, so it is inferred that significant changes in G are ruled out. However when the relation is derived in our alternative theory it gives: Ġ/G = 3(dr/dt)/r – 2(dP/dt)/P – (dm/dt)/m – (dR/dt)/R. The extra final term (which is the Hubble constant) is not taken into account in conventional derivations. This means the LLR experiments are consistent with our LNR theory (and others), and they do not really test for a changing value of G at all. This failure to transform predictions of LNR theories correctly is a serious conceptual flaw in current experiment and theory. (shrink)
A Commonplace of recent philosophy of mind is that intentional states are relations between thinkers and propositions. This thesis-call it the 'Relational Thesis'-does not depend on any specific theory of propositions. One can hold it whether one believes that propositions are Fregean Thoughts, ordered n-tuples of objects and properties or sets of possible worlds. An assumption that all these theories of propositions share is that propositions are abstract objects, without location in space or time...
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
A multiverse is comprised of many universes, which quickly leads to the question: How many universes? There are either finitely many or infinitely many universes. The purpose of this paper is to discuss two conceptions of infinite number and their relationship to multiverses. The first conception is the standard Cantorian view. But recent work has suggested a second conception of infinite number, on which infinite numbers behave very much like finite numbers. I will argue that that this second (...) conception of infinite number is the correct one, and analyze what this means for multiverses. (shrink)
Theories of number concepts often suppose that the natural numbers are acquired as children learn to count and as they draw an induction based on their interpretation of the ﬁrst few count words. In a bold critique of this general approach, Rips, Asmuth, Bloomﬁeld [Rips, L., Asmuth, J. & Bloomﬁeld, A.. Giving the boot to the bootstrap: How not to learn the natural numbers. Cognition, 101, B51–B60.] argue that such an inductive inference is consistent with a representational system (...) that clearly does not express the natural numbers and that possession of the natural numbers requires further principles that make the inductive inference superﬂuous. We argue that their critique is unsuccessful. Provided that children have access to a suitable initial system of representation, the sort of inductive inference that Rips et al. call into question can in fact facilitate the acquisition of larger integer concepts without the addition of any further principles. (shrink)
It is usual to identify initial conditions of classical dynamical systems with mathematical real numbers. However, almost all real numbers contain an infinite amount of information. I argue that a finite volume of space can’t contain more than a finite amount of information, hence that the mathematical real numbers are not physically relevant. Moreover, a better terminology for the so-called real numbers is “random numbers”, as their series of bits are truly random. I propose an (...) alternative classical mechanics, which is empirically equivalent to classical mechanics, but uses only finite-information numbers. This alternative classical mechanics is non-deterministic, despite the use of deterministic equations, in a way similar to quantum theory. Interestingly, both alternative classical mechanics and quantum theories can be supplemented by additional variables in such a way that the supplemented theory is deterministic. Most physicists straightforwardly supplement classical theory with real numbers to which they attribute physical existence, while most physicists reject Bohmian mechanics as supplemented quantum theory, arguing that Bohmian positions have no physical reality. (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)
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)
This paper aims to show that Selim Berker’s widely discussed prime number case is merely an instance of the well-known generality problem for process reliabilism and thus arguably not as interesting a case as one might have thought. Initially, Berker’s case is introduced and interpreted. Then the most recent response to the case from the literature is presented. Eventually, it is argued that Berker’s case is nothing but a straightforward consequence of the generality problem, i.e., the problematic aspect of the (...) case for process reliabilism (if any) is already captured by the generality problem. (shrink)
This paper is about how to aggregate outside opinion. If two experts are on one side of an issue, while three experts are on the other side, what should a non-expert believe? Certainly, the non-expert should take into account more than just the numbers. But which other factors are relevant, and why? According to the view developed here, one important factor is whether the experts should have been expected, in advance, to reach the same conclusion. When the agreement of (...) two (or of twenty) thinkers can be predicted with certainty in advance, their shared belief is worth only as much as one of their beliefs would be worth alone. This expectational model of belief dependence can be applied whether we think in terms of credences or in terms of all-or-nothing beliefs. (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)
It's currently fashionable to take Putnamian model theoretic worries seriously for mathematics, but not for discussions of ordinary physical objects and the sciences. But I will argue that (under certain mild assumptions) merely securing determinate reference to physical possibility suffices to rule out nonstandard models of our talk of numbers. So anyone who accepts realist reference to physical possibility should not reject reference to the standard model of the natural numbers on Putnamian model theoretic grounds.
This paper develops and explores a new framework for theorizing about the measurement and aggregation of well-being. It is a qualitative variation on the framework of social welfare functionals developed by Amartya Sen. In Sen’s framework, a social or overall betterness ordering is assigned to each profile of real-valued utility functions. In the qualitative framework developed here, numerical utilities are replaced by the properties they are supposed to represent. This makes it possible to characterize the measurability and interpersonal comparability of (...) well-being directly, without the use of invariance conditions, and to distinguish between real changes in well-being and merely representational changes in the unit of measurement. The qualitative framework is shown to have important implications for a range of issues in axiology and social choice theory, including the characterization of welfarism, axiomatic derivations of utilitarianism, the meaningfulness of prioritarianism, the informational requirements of variable-population ethics, the impossibility theorems of Arrow and others, and the metaphysics of value. (shrink)
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