Proof and canonical proof

Synthese 113 (2):265-284 (1997)
Abstract
Certain anti-realisms about mathematics are distinguished by their taking proof rather than truth as the central concept in the account of the meaning of mathematical statements. This notion of proof which is meaning determining or canonical must be distinguished from a notion of demonstration as more generally conceived. This paper raises a set of objections to Dummett's characterisation of the notion via the notion of a normalised natural deduction proof. The main complaint is that Dummett's use of normalised natural deduction proofs relies on formalisation playing a role for which it is unfit. Instead I offer an alternative account which does not rely on formalisation and go on to examine the relation of proof to canonical proof, arguing that rather than requiring an explicit characterisation of canonical proofs we need to be more aware of the complexities of that relation.
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