David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000:183-196 (2000)
Since virtually every mathematical theory can be interpreted in Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory, it is a foundation for mathematics. There are other foundations, such as alternate set theories, higher-order logic, ramified type theory, and category theory. Whether set theory is the right foundation for mathematics depends on what a foundation is for. One purpose is to provide the ultimate metaphysical basis for mathematics. A second is to assure the basic epistemological coherence of all mathematical knowledge. A third is to serve mathematics, by lending insight into the various fields and suggesting fruitful techniques of research. A fourth purpose of a foundation is to provide an arena for exploring relations and interactions between mathematical fields. While set theory does better with regard to some of these and worse with regard to others, it has become the de facto arena for deciding questions of existence, something one might expect of a foundation. Given the different goals, there is little point to determining a single foundation for all of mathematics
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