Proof-theoretic reduction as a philosopher's tool

Erkenntnis 53 (1-2):127-146 (2000)
Hilbert’s program in the philosophy of mathematics comes in two parts. One part is a technical part. To carry out this part of the program one has to prove a certain technical result. The other part of the program is a philosophical part. It is concerned with philosophical questions that are the real aim of the program. To carry out this part one, basically, has to show why the technical part answers the philosophical questions one wanted to have answered. Hilbert probably thought that he had completed the philosophical part of his program, maybe up to a few details. What was left to do was the technical part. To carry it out one, roughly, had to give a precise axiomatization of mathematics and show that it is consistent on purely finitistic grounds. This would come down to giving a relative consistency proof of mathematics in finitist mathematics, or to give a proof-theoretic reduction of mathematics on to finitist mathematics (we will look at these notions in more detail soon). It is widely believed that Gödel’s theorems showed that the technical part of Hilbert’s program could not be carried out. Gödel’s theorems show that the consistency of arithmetic can not even be proven in arithmetic, not to speak of by finitistic means alone. So, the technical part of Hilbert’s program is hopeless, and since Hilbert’s program essentially relied on both the technical and the philosophical part, Hilbert’s program as a whole is hopeless. Justified as this attitude is, it is a bit unfortunate. It is unfortunate because it takes away too much attention from the philosophical part of Hilbert’s program. And this is unfortunate for two reasons.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1005670319780
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,201
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

65 ( #73,346 of 1,940,965 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #94,589 of 1,940,965 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.