Review of B. Hale and C. Wright, The Reason's Proper Study [Book Review]

Philosophia Mathematica 11 (2):226-241 (2003)
The over-arching theme is that we can redeem Frege's key philosophical insights concerning (natural and real) numbers and our knowledge of them, despite Russell's famous discovery of paradox in Frege's own theory of classes. That paradox notwithstanding, numbers are still logical objects, in some sense created or generated by methods or principles of abstraction— which of course cannot be as ambitious as Frege's Basic Law U. These principles not only bring numbers into existence, as it were, but also afford a distinctive form of epistemic access to them. The usual mathematical axioms governing the two kinds of numbers are to be derived as results in (higher-order) logic. These derivations will exploit appropriate definitions of the primitive constants, functions, and predicates of the brand of number theory concerned. (For example: 0, 1; s, +, x; (; N(z); R(z).) No supplementation by intuition or sensory experience will be needed in the derivations of these axioms. The trains of reasoning involved will depend only on our grasp of logical validities, supplemented by appropriate definitions. Result: logicism is vindicated; and the mathematical knowledge derived in this way is revealed to be analytic, not synthetic
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