Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was unquestionably one of the most important philosophers of all time. He trained as a mathematician, and his work in philosophy started as an attempt to provide an explanation of the truths of arithmetic, but in the course of this attempt he not only founded modern logic but also had to address fundamental questions in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Frege is generally seen (along with Russell and Wittgenstein) as one of the fathers of the (...) analytic method, which dominated philosophy in English-speaking countries for most of the twentieth century. His work is studied today not just for its historical importance but also because many of his ideas are still seen as relevant to current debates in the philosophies of logic, language, mathematics and the mind. The Cambridge Companion to Frege provides a route into this lively area of research. (shrink)
What is the nature of mathematical knowledge? Is it anything like scientific knowledge or is it sui generis? How do we acquire it? Should we believe what mathematicians themselves tell us about it? Are mathematical concepts innate or acquired? Eight new essays offer answers to these and many other questions. Written by some of the world's leading philosophers of mathematics, psychologists, and mathematicians, Mathematical Knowledge gives a lively sense of the current state of debate in this fascinating field. Contents 1. (...) Mary Leng: Introduction 2. Michael Potter: What is the problem of mathematical knowledge? 3. Tim Gowers: Mathematics, memory, and mental arithmetic 4. Alan Baker: Is there a problem of induction for mathematics? 5. Marinella Cappelletti and Valeria Giardino: The cognitive basis of mathematical knowledge 6. Mary Leng: What's there to know? A fictionalist account of mathematical knowledge 7. Mark Colyvan: Mathematical recreation versus mathematical knowledge 8. Alexander Paseau: Scientific platonism 9. Crispin Wright: On quantifying into predicate position: Steps towards a (new)tralist position. (shrink)
Suggests that the recent emphasis on Benacerraf's access problem locates the peculiarity of mathematical knowledge in the wrong place. Instead we should focus on the sense in which mathematical concepts are or might be "armchair concepts" – concepts about which non-trivial knowledge is obtainable a priori.
Michael Potter presents a comprehensive new philosophical introduction to set theory. Anyone wishing to work on the logical foundations of mathematics must understand set theory, which lies at its heart. Potter offers a thorough account of cardinal and ordinal arithmetic, and the various axiom candidates. He discusses in detail the project of set-theoretic reduction, which aims to interpret the rest of mathematics in terms of set theory. The key question here is how to deal with the paradoxes that bedevil set (...) theory. Potter offers a strikingly simple version of the most widely accepted response to the paradoxes, which classifies sets by means of a hierarchy of levels. What makes the book unique is that it interweaves a careful presentation of the technical material with a penetrating philosophical critique. Potter does not merely expound the theory dogmatically but at every stage discusses in detail the reasons that can be offered for believing it to be true. Set Theory and its Philosophy is a key text for philosophy, mathematical logic, and computer science. (shrink)
del's appeal to mathematical intuition to ground our grasp of the axioms of set theory, is notorious. I extract from his writings an account of this form of intuition which distinguishes it from the metaphorical platonism of which Gödel is sometimes accused and brings out the similarities between Gödel's views and Dummett's.
This is a critical examination of the astonishing progress made in the philosophical study of the properties of the natural numbers from the 1880s to the 1930s. Reassessing the brilliant innovations of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and others, which transformed philosophy as well as our understanding of mathematics, Michael Potter places arithmetic at the interface between experience, language, thought, and the world.
Crispin Wright and Bob Hale have defended the strategy of defining the natural numbers contextually against the objection which led Frege himself to reject it, namely the so-called ‘Julius Caesar problem’. To do this they have formulated principles (called sortal inclusion principles) designed to ensure that numbers are distinct from any objects, such as persons, a proper grasp of which could not be afforded by the contextual definition. We discuss whether either Hale or Wright has provided independent motivation for a (...) defensible version of the sortal inclusion principle and whether they have succeeded in showing that numbers are just what the contextual definition says they are. (shrink)