It is a rather safe statement to claim that the social dimensions of the scientific process are accepted in a fair share of studies in the philosophy of science. It is a somewhat safe statement to claim that the social dimensions are now seen as an essential element in the understanding of what human cognition is and how it functions. But it would be a rather unsafe statement to claim that the social is fully accepted in the philosophy of mathematics. (...) And we are not quite sure what kind of statement it is to claim that the social dimensions in theories of mathematics education are becoming more prominent, compared to the psychological dimensions. In our contribution we will focus, after a brief presentation of the above claims, on this particular domain to understand the successes and failures of the development of theories of mathematics education that focus on the social and not primarily on the psychological. (shrink)
Except in very poor mathematical contexts, mathematical arguments do not stand in isolation of other mathematical arguments. Rather, they form trains of formal and informal arguments, adding up to interconnected theorems, theories and eventually entire fields. This paper critically comments on some common views on the relation between formal and informal mathematical arguments, most particularly applications of Toulmin’s argumentation model, and launches a number of alternative ideas of presentation inviting the contextualization of pieces of mathematical reasoning within encompassing bodies of (...) explicit and implicit, formal and informal background knowledge. (shrink)
We explore aspects of an experimental approach to mathematical proof, most notably number crunching, or the verification of subsequent particular cases of universal propositions. Since the rise of the computer age, this technique has indeed conquered practice, although it implies the abandonment of the ideal of absolute certainty. It seems that also in mathematical research, the qualitative criterion of effectiveness, i.e. to reach one’s goals, gets increasingly balanced against the quantitative one of efficiency, i.e. to minimize one’s means/ends ratio. Our (...) story will lead to the consideration of some limit cases, opening up the possibility of proofs of infinite length being surveyed in a finite time. By means of example, this should show that mathematical practice in vital aspects depends upon what the actual world is like. (shrink)
Most philosophers still tend to believe that mathematics is basically about producing formal proofs. A consequence of this view is that some aspects of mathematical practice are entirely lost from view. My contention is that it is precisely in those aspects that similarities can be found between practices in the exact sciences and in mathematics. Hence, if we are looking for a (more) unified treatment of science and mathematics it is necessary to incorporate these elements into our view of what (...) mathematics is about. As a helpful tool I introduce the notion of a mathematical argument as a more liberalized version of the notion of mathematical proof. (shrink)
In previous papers (see Van Bendegem , , , , , , and jointly with Van Kerkhove ) we have proposed the idea that, if we look at what mathematicians do in their daily work, one will find that conceiving and writing down proofs does not fully capture their activity. In other words, it is of course true that mathematicians spend lots of time proving theorems, but at the same time they also spend lots of time preparing the ground, if (...) you like, to construct a proof. (shrink)
It is a generally accepted idea that strict finitism is a rather marginal view within the community of philosophers of mathematics. If one therefore wants to defend such a position (as the present author does), then it is useful to search for as many different arguments as possible in support of strict finitism. Sometimes, as will be the case in this paper, the argument consists of, what one might call, a “rearrangement” of known materials. The novelty lies precisely in the (...) rearrangement, hence on the formal-axiomatic level most of the results presented here are not new. In fact, the basic results are inspired by and based on Mycielski (1981). (shrink)
The first part of this paper presents asympathetic and critical examination of the approachof Shahid Rahman and Walter Carnielli, as presented intheir paper The Dialogical Approach toParaconsistency. In the second part, possibleextensions are presented and evaluated: (a) top-downanalysis of a dialogue situation versus bottom-up, (b)the specific role of ambiguities and how to deal withthem, and (c) the problem of common knowledge andbackground knowledge in dialogues. In the third part,I claim that dialogue logic is the best-suitedinstrument to analyse paradoxes of the (...) Sorites type.All these considerations lead to philosophicallyrelevant observations concerning principles of charityon the one hand, and compactness on the other. (shrink)
Is alternative mathematics possible? More specifically, is it possible to imagine that mathematics could have developed in any other than the actual direction? The answer defended in this paper is yes, and the proof consists of a direct demonstration. An alternative mathematics that uses vague concepts and predicatesis outlined, leading up to theorems such as "Small numbers have few prime factors''.
How do scientists approach science? Scientists, sociologists and philosophers were asked to write on this intriguing problem and to display their results at the International Congress `Einstein Meets Magritte'. The outcome of their effort can be found in this rather unique book, presenting all kinds of different views on science. Quantum mechanics is a discipline which deserves and receives special attention in this book, mainly because it is fascinating and, hence, appeals to the general public. This book not only contains (...) articles on the introductory level, it also provides new insights and bold, even provocative proposals. That way, the reader gets acquainted with `science in the making', sitting in the front row. The contributions have been written for a broad interdisciplinary audience of scholars and students. (shrink)
A solution of the zeno paradoxes in terms of a discrete space is usually rejected on the basis of an argument formulated by hermann weyl, The so-Called tile argument. This note shows that, Given a set of reasonable assumptions for a discrete geometry, The weyl argument does not apply. The crucial step is to stress the importance of the nonzero width of a line. The pythagorean theorem is shown to hold for arbitrary right triangles.