Michael Potter Cambridge University
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About me
I am Professor of Logic at Cambridge and have been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1989. I was previously at Oxford, where I took a D.Phil. in pure mathematics and was a Fellow of Balliol College. I spent periods of research leave in the Department of Logic and Metaphysics at St Andrews and the Department of Philosophy at Harvard. In 2004 and 2005 I was on research leave from Cambridge as a Senior Research Fellow at Stirling University funded by the AHRC.
My works
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  1. Michael Potter (2013). Manuscripts: A New Appraisal. In Peter Sullivan Michael Potter (ed.), Wittgenstein's Tractatus. History and Interpretation. Oup. 13.
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  2. Michael Potter (2013). Wittgenstein's Pre—Tractatus Manuscripts: A New Appraisal. In Peter Sullivan Michael Potter (ed.), Wittgenstein's Tractatus. History and Interpretation. Oup. 11.
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  3. Peter M. Sullivan & Michael D. Potter (eds.) (2013). Wittgenstein's Tractatus: History and Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
    These new studies of Wittgenstein's Tractatus represent a significant step beyond recent polemical debate.
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  4. Peter Sullivan & Michael Potter (eds.) (2013). Wittgenstein's Tractatus. History and Interpretation. OUP.
     
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  5. M. Potter (2012). Paolo Mancosu. The Adventure of Reason: Interplay Between Philosophy of Mathematics and Mathematical Logic, 1900-1940. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Isbn 978-0-19-954653-4. Pp. XII + 618. [REVIEW] Philosophia Mathematica 20 (2):256-258.
  6. Michael Potter (2011). Wittgenstein on Mathematics. In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein. Oup Oxford.
     
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  7. Michael Potter (2010). Abstractionist Class Theory : Is There Any Such Thing? In T. J. Smiley, Jonathan Lear & Alex Oliver (eds.), The Force of Argument: Essays in Honor of Timothy Smiley. Routledge.
    A discussion of the philosophical prospects for basing a neo-Fregean theory of classes on a principle that attempts to articulate the limitation-of-size conception.
     
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  8. Michael Potter (2010). Elucidating the Tractatus: Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy of Logic and Language – Marie McGinn. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238):192-194.
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  9. Michael Potter (2010). Georg Brun, Ulvi Doguoglu and Dominique Kuenzle, Eds. Epistemology and Emotions Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 30 (3):161-164.
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  10. Michael Potter (2010). Introduction. In Michael Potter Tom Ricketts (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Frege. Cambridge University Press.
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  11. Tom Ricketts & Michael D. Potter (eds.) (2010). The Cambridge Companion to Frege. Cambridge University Press.
    Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was unquestionably one of the most important philosophers of all time. He trained as a mathematician, and his work in philosophy started as an attempt to provide an explanation of the truths of arithmetic, but in the course of this attempt he not only founded modern logic but also had to address fundamental questions in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Frege is generally seen (along with Russell and Wittgenstein) as one of the fathers of the (...)
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  12. Michael Potter (2009). Review of Michael Morris, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Tractatus. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
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  13. Michael Potter (2009). The Logic of the Tractatus. In Dov M. Gabbay & John Woods (eds.), Handbook of the History of Logic. Volume 5: From Russell to Church. North Holland. 255--304.
    Describes some of the main features of the logic and metaphysics of Wittgenstein's Tractatus.
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  14. Michael D. Potter (2009). Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic. Oxford University Press.
    The book features the complete text of the Notesi in a critical edition, with a detailed discussion of the circumstances in which they were compiled, leading to ...
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  15. Michael Potter (2008). The Birth of Analytic Philosophy. In Dermot Moran (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Twentieth Century Philosophy. Routledge. 43.
    Tries to identify some strands in the birth of analytic philosophy and to identify in consequence some of its distinctive features.
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  16. Mary Leng, Alexander Paseau & Michael D. Potter (eds.) (2007). Mathematical Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    What is the nature of mathematical knowledge? Is it anything like scientific knowledge or is it sui generis? How do we acquire it? Should we believe what mathematicians themselves tell us about it? Are mathematical concepts innate or acquired? Eight new essays offer answers to these and many other questions. Written by some of the world's leading philosophers of mathematics, psychologists, and mathematicians, Mathematical Knowledge gives a lively sense of the current state of debate in this fascinating field. Contents 1. (...)
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  17. Michael Potter (2007). What is the Problem of Mathematical Knowledge? In Michael Potter, Mary Leng & Alexander Paseau (eds.), Mathematical Knowledge.
    Suggests that the recent emphasis on Benacerraf's access problem locates the peculiarity of mathematical knowledge in the wrong place. Instead we should focus on the sense in which mathematical concepts are or might be "armchair concepts" – concepts about which non-trivial knowledge is obtainable a priori.
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  18. M. Potter (2005). In the Air: Extracts From an Interview with Chrissie Parrott. In Robin Grove, Kate Stevens & Shirley McKechnie (eds.), Thinking in Four Dimensions: Creativity and Cognition in Contemporary Dance. Melbourne Up. 95--106.
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  19. Michael Potter (2005). Ramsey's Transcendental Argument. In Hallvard Lillehammer & D. H. Mellor (eds.), Ramsey's Legacy. Oxford University Press. 71--82.
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  20. Michael Potter & Peter Sullivan (2005). What Is Wrong with Abstraction? Philosophia Mathematica 13 (2):187-193.
    We correct a misunderstanding by Hale and Wright of an objection we raised earlier to their abstractionist programme for rehabilitating logicism in the foundations of mathematics.
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  21. Michael D. Potter (2004). Set Theory and its Philosophy: A Critical Introduction. Oxford University Press.
    Michael Potter presents a comprehensive new philosophical introduction to set theory. Anyone wishing to work on the logical foundations of mathematics must understand set theory, which lies at its heart. Potter offers a thorough account of cardinal and ordinal arithmetic, and the various axiom candidates. He discusses in detail the project of set-theoretic reduction, which aims to interpret the rest of mathematics in terms of set theory. The key question here is how to deal with the paradoxes that bedevil set (...)
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  22. Michael Potter & Timothy Smiley (2002). Recarving Content: Hale's Final Proposal. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 102 (3):301–304.
    A follow-up, showing why Bob Hale's revision of his notion of weak sense is still inadequate.
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  23. Michael Potter (2001). Was Gödel a Gödelian Platonist? Philosophia Mathematica 9 (3):331-346.
    del's appeal to mathematical intuition to ground our grasp of the axioms of set theory, is notorious. I extract from his writings an account of this form of intuition which distinguishes it from the metaphorical platonism of which Gödel is sometimes accused and brings out the similarities between Gödel's views and Dummett's.
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  24. Michael Potter & Timothy Smiley (2001). Abstraction by Recarving. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101 (3):327–338.
    Explains why Bob Hale's proposed notion of weak sense cannot explain the analyticity of Hume's principle as he claims. Argues that no other notion of the sort Hale wants could do the job either.
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  25. Michael D. Potter (2000). Reason's Nearest Kin: Philosophies of Arithmetic From Kant to Carnap. Oxford University Press.
    This is a critical examination of the astonishing progress made in the philosophical study of the properties of the natural numbers from the 1880s to the 1930s. Reassessing the brilliant innovations of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and others, which transformed philosophy as well as our understanding of mathematics, Michael Potter places arithmetic at the interface between experience, language, thought, and the world.
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  26. Michael Potter (1999). Intuition and Reflection in Arithmetic: Michael Potter. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1):63–73.
    Classifies accounts of arithmetic into four sorts according to the resources they appeal to in constructing its subject matter.
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  27. M. Potter (1998). Morton, A. And Stich, SP (Eds.)-Benacerraf and His Critics. Philosophical Books 39:280-282.
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  28. Michael Potter (1998). Classical Arithmetic as Part of Intuitionistic Arithmetic. Grazer Philosophische Studien 55:127-41.
    Argues that classical arithmetic can be viewed as a proper part of intuitionistic arithmetic. Suggests that this largely neutralizes Dummett's argument for intuitionism in the case of arithmetic.
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  29. Peter Sullivan & Michael Potter (1997). Hale on Caesar. Philosophia Mathematica 5 (2):135--52.
    Crispin Wright and Bob Hale have defended the strategy of defining the natural numbers contextually against the objection which led Frege himself to reject it, namely the so-called ‘Julius Caesar problem’. To do this they have formulated principles (called sortal inclusion principles) designed to ensure that numbers are distinct from any objects, such as persons, a proper grasp of which could not be afforded by the contextual definition. We discuss whether either Hale or Wright has provided independent motivation for a (...)
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  30. M. Potter (1996). Taming the Infinite. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):609-619.
    A critique of Shaughan Lavine's attempt in /Understanding the Infinite/ to reduce talk about the infinite to finitely comprehensible terms.
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  31. Michael Potter (1996). Review: Taming the Infinite. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):609 - 619.
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  32. M. D. Potter (1993). Critical Notice: David Lewis's Parts of Classes. Philosophical Quarterly 43 (172).
    "Parts of Classes" tries to separate the unproblematic part of set theory (mereology) from the problematic part (singletons). In the process several things get lost: an empty set which is really empty; a satisfying account of the paradoxes; and the motivation for the iterative conception of set. Lewis' attack on the coherence of singletons makes it puzzling what he sees his book as doing. Nor is it clear that mereology is as ontologically innocent as Lewis would have us believe.
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  33. M. D. Potter (1993). Iterative Set Theory. Philosophical Quarterly 44 (171):178-193.
    Discusses the metaphysics of the iterative conception of set.
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  34. Michael Potter (1993). Infinite Coincidences and Inaccessible Truths. In Philosophy of Mathematics, Proceedings of the 15th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
    Argues, contra Dummett, that the platonist need not be any more committed than the intuitionist to the notion that there are arithmetical truths in principle inaccessible to any finite intelligence.
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  35. Michael Potter (1993). Inaccessible Truths and Infinite Coincidences. In. In J. Czermak (ed.), Philosophy of Mathematics. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
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  36. Michael Potter (1993). Proof and Knowledge in Mathematics. Philosophical Books 34 (3):188-191.
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  37. Michael Potter (1993). Philosophy of Mathematics, Proceedings of the 15th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky.
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  38. Michael Potter (1993). The Metalinguistic Perspective in Mathematics. Acta Analytica 11:79-86.
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  39. M. D. Potter (1991). Review: Constructibility and Mathematical Existence by Charles S. Chihara. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 41:345-348.
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  40. M. D. Potter (1990). The Philosophy of Set Theory: An Historical Introduction to Cantor's Paradise. Philosophical Books 31 (1):63-63.
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  41. Michael Potter, A Guide to the Tractatus (First Draft).
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