Sets, classes, and categories

Abstract
This paper, accessible for a general philosophical audience having only some fleeting acquaintance with set-theory and category-theory, concerns the philosophy of mathematics, specifically the bearing of category-theory on the foundations of mathematics. We argue for six claims. (I) A founding theory for category-theory based on the primitive concept of a set or a class is worthwile to pursue. (II) The extant set-theoretical founding theories for category-theory are conceptually flawed. (III) The conceptual distinction between a set and a class can be seen to be formally codified in Ackermann's axiomatisation of set-theory. (IV) A slight but significant deductive extension of Ackermann's theory of sets and classes founds Cantorian set-theory as well as category-theory, and therefore can pass as a founding theory of the whole of mathematics. (V) The extended theory does not suffer from the conceptual flaws of the extant set-theoretical founding theories. (VI) The extended theory is not only conceptually but also logically superior to the competing set-theories because its consistency can be proved on the basis of weaker assumptions than the consistency of the competition.
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