Russell's logicist definitions of numbers, 1898–1913: chronology and significance

History and Philosophy of Logic 8 (2):141-169 (1987)
According to the received view, Russell rediscovered about 1900 the logical definition of cardinal number given by Frege in 1884. In the same way, we are told, he stated and developed independently the idea of logicism, using the principle of abstraction as the philosophical ground. Furthermore, the role commonly ascribed in this to Peano was only to invent an appropriate notation to be used as mere instrument. In this paper I hold that the study of Russell's unpublished manuscripts and Peano's (and disciples) writings (as part of a larger investigation only pointed out here) shows, on the contrary, that Russell obtained the method to transform definitions by abstraction into nominal definitions and the general logicist idea from Peano (and his school). The only original insight from Russell, the principle of abstraction, partially derived from Moore's early philosophy, was finally abandoned because it was not of practical use
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DOI 10.1080/01445348708837114
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