Deflating Skolem

Synthese 143 (3):223--53 (2005)
.  Remarkably, despite the tremendous success of axiomatic set-theory in mathematics, logic and meta-mathematics, e.g., model-theory, two philosophical worries about axiomatic set-theory as the adequate catch of the set-concept keep haunting it. Having dealt with one worry in a previous paper in this journal, we now fulfil a promise made there, namely to deal with the second worry. The second worry is the Skolem Paradox and its ensuing Skolemite skepticism. We present a comparatively novel and simple analysis of the argument of the Skolemite skeptic, which will reveal a general assumption concerning the meaning of the set-concept (we call it Connexion M). We argue that the Skolemite skeptics argument is a petitio principii and that consequently we find ourselves in a dialectical situation of stalemate.Few (if any) working set-theoreticians feel a tension – let alone see a paradox – between, on the one hand, what the Löwenheim–Skolem theorems and related results seem to be telling us about the set-concept, and, on the other hand, their uncompromising and successful use of the set-concept and their continuing enthusiasm about it, in other words: their lack of skepticism about the set-concept. Further, most (if not all) working settheoreticians have a relaxed attitude towards the ubiquitous undecidability phenomenon in set-theory, rather than a worrying one. We argue these are genuine philosophical problems about the practice of set-theory. We propound solutions, which crucially involve a renunciation of Connexion M. This breaks the dialectical situation of stalemate against the Skolemite skeptic.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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References found in this work BETA
Paul Horwich (1998). Meaning. Oxford University Press.
Wilfrid Hodges (2008). Model Theory. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Hilary Putnam (1980). Models and Reality. Journal of Symbolic Logic 45 (3):464-482.

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