Throughout history, mathematicians have expressed preference for solutions to problems that avoid introducing concepts that are in one sense or another “foreign” or “alien” to the problem under investigation. This preference for “purity” (which German writers commonly referred to as “methoden Reinheit”) has taken various forms. It has also been persistent. This notwithstanding, it has not been analyzed at even a basic philosophical level. In this paper we give a basic analysis of one conception of purity—what we call topical purity—and (...) discuss its epistemological significance. (shrink)
An Essay on Mathematical Instrumentalism M. Detlefsen. THE PHILOSOPHICAL FUNDAMENTALS OF HILBERT'S PROGRAM 1. INTRODUCTION In this chapter I shall attempt to set out Hilbert's Program in a way that is more revealing than ...
The aims of this paper are twofold: firstly, to say something about that philosophy of mathematics known as 'intuitionism' and, secondly, to fit these remarks into a more general message for the philosophy of mathematics as a whole. What I have to say on the first score can, without too much inaccuracy, be compressed into two theses. The first is that the intuitionistic critique of classical mathematics can be seen as based primarily on epistemological rather than on meaning-theoretic considerations. The (...) second is that the intuitionist's chief objection to the classical mathematician's use of logic does not center on the use of particular logical principles (in particular, the law of excluded middle and its ilk). Rather on the role the classical mathematician assigns (or at least extends) generally (i.e. regardless of the particular principles used) to the use of logic in the production mathematical proofs. Thus, the intuitionist critique of logic that we shall be presenting is far more radical than that which has commonly been presented. -/- Concerning the second, more general, theme, my claim is this: some restriction of the role of logical inference in mathematical proof such as that mentioned above is necessary if one is to account for the seeming difference in the epistemic conditions of provers whose reasoning is based on genuine insight into the subject-matter being investigated, and would-be provers whose reasoning is based not on such insight, but rather on principles of inference which hold of every subject-matter indifferently. (shrink)
Poincaré was a persistent critic of logicism. Unlike most critics of logicism, however, he did not focus his attention on the basic laws of the logicists or the question of their genuinely logical status. Instead, he directed his remarks against the place accorded to logical inference in the logicist's conception of mathematical proof. Following Leibniz, traditional logicist dogma (and this is explicit in Frege) has held that reasoning or inference is everywhere the same — that there are no principles of (...) inference specific to a given local topic. Poincaré, a Kantian, disagreed with this. Indeed, he believed that the use of non-logical reasoning was essential to genuinely mathematical reasoning (proof). In this essay, I try to isolate and clarify this idea and to describe the mathematical epistemology which underlies it. Central to this epistemology (which is basically Kantian in orientation, and closely similar to that advocated by Brouwer) is a principle of epistemic conservation which says that knowledge of a given type cannot be extended by means of an inference unless that inference itself constitutes knowledge belonging to the given type. (shrink)
The type of completeness Whitehead and Russell aimed for in their Principia Mathematica was what I call descriptive completeness. This is completeness with respect to the propositions that have been proved in traditional mathematics. The notion of completeness addressed by Gödel in his famous work of 1930 and 1931 was completeness with respect to the truths expressible in a given language. What are the relative significances of these different conceptions of completeness for traditional mathematics? What, if any, effects does incompleteness (...) of the type Gödel had in mind have for the evaluation of the Principia Mathematica project and other projects like it? (shrink)
I criticize a recent paper by Thomas Tymoczko in which he attributes fundamental philosophical significance and novelty to the lately-published computer-assisted proof of the four color theorem (4CT). Using reasoning precisely analogous to that employed by Tymoczko, I argue that much of traditional mathematical proof must be seen as resting on what Tymoczko must take as being "empirical" evidence. The new proof of the 4CT, with its use of what Tymoczko calls "empirical" evidence is therefore not so novel as he (...) maintains. Finally, without attempting to give a full account of the notion of empirical mathematical evidence, I sketch a view showing how the use of calculation injects an empirical ingredient into proof. (shrink)
It is argued that an instrumentalist notion of proof such as that represented in Hilbert's viewpoint is not obligated to satisfy the conservation condition that is generally regarded as a constraint on Hilbert's Program. A more reasonable soundness condition is then considered and shown not to be counter-exemplified by Godel's First Theorem. Finally, attention is given to the question of what a theory is; whether it should be seen as a "list" or corpus of beliefs, or as a method for (...) selecting beliefs. The significance of this question for assessing "intensional" results like Godel's Second Theorem, and their bearing on Hilbert's Program are discussed. (shrink)
We consider a seemingly popular justification (we call it the Re-flexivity Defense) for the third derivability condition of the Hilbert-Bernays-Löb generalization of Godel's Second Incompleteness Theorem (G2). We argue that (i) in certain settings (rouglily, those where the representing theory of an arithmetization is allowed to be a proper subtheory of the represented theory), use of the Reflexivity Defense to justify the tliird condition induces a fourth condition, and that (ii) the justification of this fourth condition faces serious obstacles. We (...) conclude that, in the types of settings mentioned, the Reflexivity Defense does not justify the usual ‘reading’ of G2—namely, that the consistency of the represented theory is not provable in the representing theory. (shrink)
In the early years of this century, Poincaré and Russell engaged in a debate concerning the nature of mathematical reasoning. Siding with Kant, Poincaré argued that mathematical reasoning is characteristically non-logical in character. Russell urged the contrary view, maintaining that (i) the plausibility originally enjoyed by Kant's view was due primarily to the underdeveloped state of logic in his (i.e., Kant's) time, and that (ii) with the aid of recent developments in logic, it is possible to demonstrate its falsity. This (...) refutation of Kant's views consists in showing that every known theorem of mathematics can be proven by purely logical means from a basic set of axioms. In our view, Russell's alleged refutation of Poincaré's Kantian viewpoint is mistaken. Poincaré's aim (as Kant's before him) was not to deny the possibility of finding a logical ‘proof’ for each theorem. Rather, it was to point out that such purely logical derivations fail to preserve certain of the important and distinctive features of mathematical proof. Against such a view, programs such as Russell's, whose main aim was to demonstrate the existence of a logical counterpart for each mathematical proof, can have but little force. For what is at issue is not whether each mathematical theorem can be fitted with a logical ‘proof’, but rather whether the latter has the epistemic features that a genuine mathematical proof has. (shrink)
Crispin Wright joins the ranks of those who have sought to refute mechanist theories of mind by invoking Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems. His predecessors include Gödel himself, J. R. Lucas and, most recently, Roger Penrose. The aim of this essay is to show that, like his predecessors, Wright, too, fails to make his case, and that, indeed, he fails to do so even when judged by standards of success which he himself lays down.
I focus on three preoccupations of recent writings on proof. -/- I. The role and possible effects of empirical reasoning in mathematics. Do recent developments (specifically, the computer-assisted proof of the 4CT) point to something essentially new as regards the need for and/or effects of using broadly empirical and inductive reasoning in mathematics? In particular, should we see such things as the computer-assisted proof of the 4CT as pointing to the existence of mathematical truths of which we cannot have a (...) priori knowledge? -/- 2. The role of formalization in proof. What are the patterns ofinference according to which mathematical reasoning naturally proceeds? Are they of 'local' character (i.e. sensitive to the subject-matter of the reasoning concerned) or 'global' character (i.e. invariant across all subject-matters)? Finally, what if any relationship is there (a) between the patterns of inference manifest in a proof and its explanatory capacity and (b) between explanatory capacity and rigor? -/- 3. Diagrams and their role in mathematical reasoning. What essentially is diagrammatic reasoning, and what is the nature and basis of its usefulness? Can it play a justificative role in the development of mathematical knowledge and, more particularly, in genuine proof? Finally, does the use of diagrammatic reasoning force an adjustment either in our conception of rigor or in our view of its importance? (shrink)
There is a long line of thinkers in the philosophy of mathematics who have sought to base an account of proof on what might be called a 'metaphysical ordering' of the truths of mathematics. Use the term 'metaphysical' to describe these orderings is intended to call attention to the fact that they are regarded as objective and not subjective and that they are conceived primarily as orderings of truths and only secondarily as orderings of beliefs. -/- I describe and consider (...) two models for such orderings, (i) an implicational model and something I call (ii) a mosaic model. -/- Both models fail to do what such orderings should do. Moreover, in both cases, the trouble arises because the class of truths to be ordered is taken to be closed under various weakening implications. This is a result of their employing a global conception of logic. (shrink)
In this paper I have considered various attempts to attribute significance to Gödel's second incompleteness theorem (G2 for short). Two of these attempts (Beth-Cohen and the position maintaining that G2 shows the failure of Hilbert's Program), I have argued, are false. Two others (an argument suggested by Beth, Cohen and ??? and Resnik's Interpretation), I argue, are groundless.
Various ideals of purity are surveyed and discussed. These include the classical Aristotelian ideal, as well as certain neo-classical and contemporary ideals. The focus is on a type of purity ideal I call topical purity. This is purity which emphasizes a certain symmetry between the conceptual resources used to prove a theorem and those needed for the clarification of its content. The basic idea is that the resources of proof ought ideally to be restricted to those which determine its content.
The mathematical proof is the most important form of justification in mathematics. It is not, however, the only kind of justification for mathematical propositions. The existence of other forms, some of very significant strength, places a question mark over the prominence given to proof within mathematics. This collection of essays, by leading figures working within the philosophy of mathematics, is a response to the challenge of understanding the nature and role of the proof.
It is a commonplace of constructivist thought that a claim that an object of a certain kind exists is to be backed by an explicit display or exhibition of an object that is manifestly of that kind. Let us refer to this requirement as the exhibition condition. The main objective of this essay is to examine this requirement and to arrive at a better understanding of its epistemic character and the role that it plays in the two main constructivist philosophies (...) of this century---the intuitionist programme of Brouwer and Weyl, and the finitist programme of Hilbert. (shrink)
The general question considered is whether and to what extent there are features of our mathematical knowledge that support a realist attitude towards mathematics. I consider, in particular, reasoning from claims such as that mathematicians believe their reasoning to be part of a process of discovery (and not of mere invention), to the view that mathematical entities exist in some mind-independent way although our minds have epistemic access to them.
These questions arise from any attempt to discover an epistemology for mathematics. This collection of essays considers various questions concerning the nature of justification in mathematics and possible sources of that justification. Among these are the question of whether mathematical justification is _a priori_ or _a posteriori_ in character, whether logical and mathematical differ, and if formalization plays a significant role in mathematical justification.
We argue that Löb's Theorem implies a limitation on mechanism. Specifically, we argue, via an application of a generalized version of Löb's Theorem, that any particular device known by an observer to be mechanical cannot be used as an epistemic authority (of a particular type) by that observer: either the belief-set of such an authority is not mechanizable or, if it is, there is no identifiable formal system of which the observer can know (or truly believe) it to be the (...) theorem-set. This gives, we believe, an important and hitherto unnoticed connection between mechanism and the use of authorities by human-like epistemic agents. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Feferman's theorem does not signify the existence of skeptic-satisfying consistency proofs. However, my argument for this is much different than other arguments (most particularly Resnik's) for the same claim. The argument that I give arises form an analysis of the notion of 'expression', according to which the specific character of that notion is seen as varying from one context of application (of a result of arithmetic metamathematics) to another.
First published in the most ambitious international philosophy project for a generation; the _Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy_. _Logic from A to Z_ is a unique glossary of terms used in formal logic and the philosophy of mathematics. Over 500 entries include key terms found in the study of: * Logic: Argument, Turing Machine, Variable * Set and model theory: Isomorphism, Function * Computability theory: Algorithm, Turing Machine * Plus a table of logical symbols. Extensively cross-referenced to help comprehension and add (...) detail, _Logic from A to Z_ provides an indispensable reference source for students of all branches of logic. (shrink)
Au début du XXe siècle, Poincaré et Russell eurent un débat à propos de la nature du raisonnement mathématique. Poincaré, comme Kant, défendait l’idée que le raisonnement mathématique était de caractère non logique. Russell soutenait une conception contraire et critiquait Poincaré. Je défends ici l’idée que les critiques de Russell n’étaient pas fondées.In the early twentieth century, Poincare and Russell engaged in a discussion concerning the nature of mathematical reasoning. Poincare, like Kant, argued that mathematical reasoning was characteristically non-logical in (...) character. Russell argued for the contrary view and criticized Poincare. I argue that Russell’s criticisms were largely mistaken. (shrink)
Duality has often been described as a means of extending our knowledge with a minimal additional outlay of investigative resources. I consider possible arguments for this view. Major elements of this argument are out of keeping with certain widely held views concerning the nature of axiomatic theories (both in projective geometry and elsewhere). They also require a special form of consistency requirement.
Duality has often been described as a means of extending our knowledge with a minimal additional outlay of investigative resources. I attempt to construct a serious argument for this view. Certain major elements of this argument are then considered at length. They’re found to be out of keeping with certain widely held views concerning the nature of axiomatic theories (both in projective geometry and elsewhere). They’re also found to require a special form of consistency requirement.