A major challenge in the philosophy of mathematics is to explain how mathematical language can pick out unique structures and acquire determinate content. In recent work, Button and Walsh have introduced a view they call ‘internalism’, according to which mathematical content is explained by internal categoricity results formulated and proven in second-order logic. In this paper, we critically examine the internalist response to the challenge and discuss the philosophical significance of internal categoricity results. Surprisingly, as we argue, while internalism arguably (...) explains how we pick out unique mathematical structures, this does not suffice to account for the determinacy of mathematical discourse. (shrink)
[EDIT: This book will be published open access. Check back around March 2024 to access the entire book.] One central aim of science is to provide explanations of natural phenomena. What role(s) does mathematics play in achieving this aim? How does mathematics contribute to the explanatory power of science? Rules to Infinity defends the thesis, common though perhaps inchoate among many members of the Vienna Circle, that mathematics contributes to the explanatory power of science by expressing conceptual rules, rules which (...) allow the transformation of empirical descriptions. Mathematics should not be thought of as describing, in any substantive sense, an abstract realm of eternal mathematical objects, as traditional platonists have thought. In Rules to Infinity, this view, which I call mathematical normativism, is updated with contemporary philosophical tools, and it is argued that normativism is compatible with mainstream semantic theory. This allows the normativist to accept that there are mathematical truths, while resisting the platonistic idea that there exist abstract mathematical objects that explain such truths. Furthermore, Rules to Infinity defends a particular account of the distinction between scientific explanations that are in some sense distinctively mathematical – those that explain natural phenomena in some uniquely mathematical way – and those that are only standardly mathematical, and it lays out desiderata for any account of this distinction. Normativism is compared with other prominent views in the philosophy of mathematics such as neo-Fregeanism, fictionalism, conventionalism, and structuralism. Rules to Infinity serves as an entry point into debates at the forefront of philosophy of science and mathematics, and it defends novel positions in these debates. (shrink)
The independence phenomenon in set theory, while pervasive, can be partially addressed through the use of large cardinal axioms. A commonly assumed idea is that large cardinal axioms are species of maximality principles. In this paper I question this claim. I show that there is a kind of maximality (namely absoluteness) on which large cardinal axioms come out as restrictive relative to a formal notion of restrictiveness. Within this framework, I argue that large cardinal axioms can still play many of (...) their usual foundational roles. (shrink)
Using ideas proposed in Aboutness and developed in ‘If-thenism’, Stephen Yablo has tried to improve on classical if-thenism in mathematics, a view initially put forward by Bertrand Russell in his Principles of Mathematics. Yablo’s stated goal is to provide a reading of a sentence like ‘The number of planets is eight’ with a sort of content on which it fails to imply ‘Numbers exist’. After presenting Yablo’s framework, our paper raises a problem with his view that has gone virtually unnoticed (...) in the literature. If we are right, then Yablo’s version of if-thenism cannot succeed. (shrink)
Who gets to contribute to knowledge production of an epistemic community? Scholarship has focussed on unjustified forms of exclusion. Here I study justified forms of exclusion by investigating the phenomenon of so-called ‘cranks’ in mathematics. I argue that workload-management concerns justify the exclusion of these outsiders from mathematical knowledge-making practices. My discussion reveals three insights. There are reasons other than incorrect mathematical argument that justify exclusions from mathematical practices. There are instances in which mathematicians are justified in rejecting even correct (...) mathematical arguments. Finally, the way mathematicians spot mathematical crankery does not support the pejorative connotations of the ‘crank’ terminology. (shrink)
Although number sentences are ostensibly simple, familiar, and applicable, the justification for our arithmetical beliefs has been considered mysterious by the philosophical tradition. In this paper, I argue that such a mystery is due to a preconception of two realities, one mathematical and one nonmathematical, which are alien to each other. My proposal shows that the theory of numbers as properties entails a homogeneous domain in which arithmetical and nonmathematical truth occur. As a result, the possibility of arithmetical knowledge is (...) simply a consequence of the possibility of ordinary knowledge. (shrink)
In The Concept of Model Alain Badiou establishes a new logical ’concept of model’. Translated for the first time into English, the work is accompanied by an exclusive interview with Badiou in which he elaborates on the connections between his early and most recent work-for which the concept of model remains seminal.
Where does math come from? From a textbook? From rules? From deduction? From logic? Not really, Eugenia Cheng writes in Is Math Real?: it comes from curiosity, from instinctive human curiosity, "from people not being satisfied with answers and always wanting to understand more." And most importantly, she says, "it comes from questions": not from answering them, but from posing them. Nothing could seem more at odds from the way most of us were taught math: a rigid and autocratic model (...) which taught us to follow specific steps to reach specific answers. Instead of encouraging a child who asks why 1+1 is 2, our methods of education force them to accept it. Instead of exploring why we multiply before we add, a textbook says, just to get on with the order of operations. Indeed, the point is usually just about getting the right answer, and those that are good at that, become "good at math" while those who question, are not. And that's terrible: These very same questions, as Cheng shows, aren't simply annoying questions coming from people who just don't "get it" and so can't do math. Rather, they are what drives mathematical research and push the boundaries in our understanding of all things. Legitimizing those questions, she invites everyone in, whether they think they are good at math or not. And by highlighting the development of mathematics outside Europe, Cheng shows that-western chauvinism notwithstanding--that math can be for anyone who wishes to do it, and how much we gain when anyone can. (shrink)
Die allgemeine anzahlenlehre.--Der araum und die grössenlehre.--Die gestaltenlehre.--Besondere gestalten.--Gleich und gleich.--Plus, minus und das irgend-i.--Anhang: Zur "gemeinverständlichen" erörterund der relativitätstheorie.
This essay addresses a critical epistemology of mathematics as an investigation into the epistemic limitations of mathematical thinking. After arguing for the relevance of a critical epistemology of mathematics, I discuss assumptions underlying standard arithmetic and assumptions underlying standard logic as examples for such epistemic limitations of mathematical thinking. Looking into the work of philosophically interested scholars in mathematics education such as Alan Bishop and Ole Skovsmose, I discuss some early insights for a critical epistemology of mathematics. I conclude that (...) these insights can only be the beginning, that we are yet far away from a proper understanding of the epistemic limitations of mathematics, and that more research is needed. (shrink)
In this paper, I present and discuss critically the main elements of Mario Bunge’s philosophy of mathematics. In particular, I explore how mathematical knowledge is accounted for in Bunge’s systemic emergent materialism.
Hutto and Myin have proposed an account of radically enactive (or embodied) cognition (REC) as an explanation of cognitive phenomena, one that does not include mental representations or mental content in basic minds. Recently, Zahidi and Myin have presented an account of arithmetical cognition that is consistent with the REC view. In this paper, I first evaluate the feasibility of that account by focusing on the evolutionarily developed proto-arithmetical abilities and whether empirical data on them support the radical enactivist view. (...) I argue that although more research is needed, it is at least possible to develop the REC position consistently with the state-of-the-art empirical research on the development of arithmetical cognition. After this, I move the focus to the question whether the radical enactivist account can explain the objectivity of arithmetical knowledge. Against the realist view suggested by Hutto, I argue that objectivity is best explained through analyzing the way universal proto-arithmetical abilities determine the development of arithmetical cognition. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Mark Steiner’s view of the contribution of mathematics to physics and take up some of the questions it raises. In particular, I take up the question of discovery and explore two aspects of this question – a metaphysical aspect and a related epistemic aspect. The metaphysical aspect concerns the formal structure of the physical world. Does the physical world have mathematical or formal features or constituents, and what is the nature of these constituents? The related (...) epistemic question concerns humans’ cognitive ability to reach the formal structure of the physical world. Among other things, I explore the interaction of mathematical and non-mathematical cognition in physical discovery. (shrink)
Machine learning (ML) refers to a class of computer-facilitated methods of statistical modelling. ML modelling techniques are now being widely adopted across the sciences. A number of outspoken representatives from the general public, computer science, various scientific fields, and philosophy of science alike seem to share in the belief that ML will radically disrupt scientific practice or the variety of epistemic outputs science is capable of producing. Such a belief is held, at least in part, because its adherents take ML (...) to exist on novel epistemic footing relative to classical mathematical or statistical modelling approaches utilised in science. Namely, they take modelling with ML to be a “theory-free” enterprise, in the sense of not resting essentially on input from human conceptual grasp on the target phenomenon and domain expertise. I take this view to arise from the further, and more deeply entrenched belief that data is worldly and objective; i.e., data is viewed as recapitulating or representing with perfect fidelity the structure or properties of the systems in nature it is sampled from. Yet most contemporary philosophers of science take on board, in one version or other, the thesis of theory-ladenness or theory-mediation of observation or measurement. From this, it follows that most philosophers of science (and, I will venture, many scientists) hold irreconcilable views on the nature of data, an internal tension which threatens the integrity of their appraisals of ML in science. Taking the thesis of theory-ladenness on board---and its implications for the nature of data seriously---it follows that there is no reason to believe that ML differs fundamentally in its epistemic footing from established mathematical modelling approaches in the sciences. I show that usage and interpretation can differ from “standard practice” in scientific projects which wield the tools of ML without accepting a difference in the epistemic or representational status of such tools. (shrink)
This paper puts forward a new account of rigorous mathematical proof and its epistemology. One novel feature is a focus on how the skill of reading and writing valid proofs is learnt, as a way of understanding what validity itself amounts to. The account is used to address two current questions in the literature: that of how mathematicians are so good at resolving disputes about validity, and that of whether rigorous proofs are necessarily formalizable.
Erster Teil Die übliche Auffassung von der Mathematik und ihre Widerlegung.- 1 Die Rolle von Anschauung und Erfahrung.- 2 Die Rolle der Voraussetzungen.- 3 Die Nichtuntrüglichkeit des mathematischen Schliessens.- Zweiter Teil Die landläufige Auffassung von der Physik und ihre Berichtigung.- 4 Physikalische Begriffsbildungen.- 5 Die Gesetze der Physik und ewige Naturgesetze.- 6 Die Beziehung zwischen Theorie und Experiment.- Dritter Teil Fragen philosophischen Charakters.- 7 Physikalische Gesetzlichkeit und Kausalität.- 8 Naturgeschehen und Wahrscheinlichkeit.- 9 Die Rolle von idealen Gebilden.
In this paper we apply social epistemology to mathematical proofs and their role in mathematical knowledge. The most famous modern collaborative mathematical proof effort is the Classification of Finite Simple Groups. The history and sociology of this proof have been well-documented by Alma Steingart (2012), who highlights a number of surprising and unusual features of this collaborative endeavour that set it apart from smaller-scale pieces of mathematics. These features raise a number of interesting philosophical issues, but have received very little (...) attention. In this paper, we will consider the philosophical tensions that Steingart uncovers, and use them to argue that the best account of the epistemic status of the Classification Theorem will be essentially and ineliminably social. This forms part of the broader argument that in order to understand mathematical proofs, we must appreciate their social aspects. (shrink)
This paper discusses the consequences of the latest PUEBI EYD V regulations for scientific ontological theorization through analyzing the semantical metaphysical commitment it reflects when we write formal mathematical statements using purely mathematical symbol (e.g., “there are 22 aardvarks”). This paper shows that PUEBI EYD V commits to mathematical Platonism metaphysically. This commitment brings harm to observable entities ontological nature in scientific theorization as shown in nominalism projects of philosophy of mathematics. Scientific theories - and even mathematical theories - should (...) always reject the existence of independent objects for there exists only structures (as truth-value). Authors use nominalism stance as a methodology to reject the metaphysical commitment of PUEBI and defend the formal usage of writing mathematical statement without number symbols (“there are twenty-two aardvarks”, etc.). (shrink)
Systems of differential equations are used to describe, model, explain, and predict states of physical systems. Experimental and theoretical branches of physics including general relativity, climate science, and particle physics have differential equations at their center. Direct solutions to differential equations are not available in many domains, which spurs on the use of creative mathematics and simulated solutions.
Statements in mathematics -- Proofs in mathematics -- Basic set operations -- Functions -- Relations on a set -- Cardinality -- Algebra of number systems -- The natural numbers -- The integers -- The rational numbers -- The real numbers -- Cantor's reals -- The complex numbers -- Time scales -- The delta derivative -- Hints for (and comments on) the exercises.
In a 2022 paper, Hamami claimed that the orthodox view in mathematics is that a proof is rigorous if it can be translated into a derivation. Hamami then developed a descriptive account that explains how mathematicians check proofs for rigor in this sense and how they develop the capacity to do so. By exploring introductory texts in computability theory, we demonstrate that Hamami’s descriptive account does not accord with actual mathematical practice with respect to computability theory. We argue instead for (...) an alternative account in which imagination, anticipation, and interpretations of natural language play roles in establishing mathematical rigor. (shrink)
I use my reading of Plato to develop what I call as-ifism, the view that, in mathematics, we treat our hypotheses as if they were first principles and we do this with the purpose of solving mathematical problems. I then extend this view to modern mathematics showing that when we shift our focus from the method of philosophy to the method of mathematics, we see that an as-if methodological interpretation of mathematical structuralism can be used to provide an account of (...) the practice and the applicability of mathematics while avoiding the conflation of metaphysical considerations with mathematical ones. (shrink)
Risk is an intrinsic part of our lives. In the future, the development and growth of the Internet of things allows getting a huge amount of data. Considering this evolution, our research focuses on developing a novel concept, namely Holistic Risk Assessment (HRA), that takes into consideration elements outside the direct influence of the individual to provide a highly personalized risk assessment. The HRA implies developing a methodology and a model. This paper is related to the epistemological positioning of this (...) research. We consider this research as an artificial science under the constructivism paradigm. We also introduce the positioning of this research in the complexity science paradigm. We end this paper by presenting a methodology based on an adapted Design Thinking Model. (shrink)
One of the traditional ways mathematical ideas and even new areas of mathematics are created is from experiments. One of the best-known examples is that of the Fermat hypothesis, which was conjectured by Fermat in his attempts to find integer solutions for the famous Fermat equation. This hypothesis led to the creation of a whole field of knowledge, but it was proved only after several hundred years. This book, based on the author's lectures, presents several new directions of mathematical research. (...) All of these directions are based on numerical experiments conducted by the author, which led to new hypotheses that currently remain open, i.e., are neither proved nor disproved. The hypotheses range from geometry and topology (statistics of plane curves and smooth functions) to combinatorics (combinatorial complexity and random permutations) to algebra and number theory (continuous fractions and Galois groups). For each subject, the author describes the problem and presents numerical results that led him to a particular conjecture. In the majority of cases there is an indication of how the readers can approach the formulated conjectures (at least by conducting more numerical experiments). Written in Arnold's unique style, the book is intended for a wide range of mathematicians, from high school students interested in exploring unusual areas of mathematics on their own, to college and graduate students, to researchers interested in gaining a new, somewhat nontraditional perspective on doing mathematics. In the interest of fostering a greater awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and everyday life, MSRI and the AMS are publishing books in the Mathematical Circles Library series as a service to young people, their parents and teachers, and the mathematics profession. Titles in this series are co-published with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). (shrink)
Cantor’s abstractionist account of cardinal numbers has been criticized by Frege as a psychological theory of numbers which leads to contradiction. The aim of the paper is to meet these objections by proposing a reassessment of Cantor’s proposal based upon the set theoretic framework of Bourbaki—called BK—which is a First-order set theory extended with Hilbert’s \-operator. Moreover, it is argued that the BK system and the \-operator provide a faithful reconstruction of Cantor’s insights on cardinal numbers. I will introduce first (...) the axiomatic setting of BK and the definition of cardinal numbers by means of the \-operator. Then, after presenting Cantor’s abstractionist theory, I will point out two assumptions concerning the definition of cardinal numbers that are deeply rooted in Cantor’s work. I will claim that these assumptions are supported as well by the BK definition of cardinal numbers, which will be compared to those of Zermelo–von Neumann and Frege–Russell. On the basis of these similarities, I will make use of the BK framework in meeting Frege’s objections to Cantor’s proposal. A key ingredient in the defence of Cantorian abstraction will be played by the role of representative sets, which are arbitrarily denoted by the \-operator in the BK definition of cardinal numbers. (shrink)
This paper clarifies and discusses Imre Lakatos’ claim that mathematics is quasi-empirical in one of his less-discussed papers A Renaissance of Empiricism in the Recent Philosophy of Mathematics. I argue that Lakatos’ motivation for classifying mathematics as a quasi-empirical theory is epistemological; what can be called the quasi-empirical epistemology of mathematics is not correct; analysing where the quasi-empirical epistemology of mathematics goes wrong will bring to light reasons to endorse a pluralist view of mathematics.
This article presents a challenge that those philosophers who deny the causal interpretation of explanations provided by population genetics might have to address. Indeed, some philosophers, known as statisticalists, claim that the concept of natural selection is statistical in character and cannot be construed in causal terms. On the contrary, other philosophers, known as causalists, argue against the statistical view and support the causal interpretation of natural selection. The problem I am concerned with here arises for the statisticalists because the (...) debate on the nature of natural selection intersects the debate on whether mathematical explanations of empirical facts are genuine scientific explanations. I argue that if the explanations provided by population genetics are regarded by the statisticalists as non-causal explanations of that kind, then statisticalism risks being incompatible with a naturalist stance. The statisticalist faces a dilemma: either she maintains statisticalism but has to renounce naturalism; or she maintains naturalism but has to content herself with an account of the explanations provided by population genetics that she deems unsatisfactory. This challenge is relevant to the statisticalists because many of them see themselves as naturalists. (shrink)
A famous passage in Section 64 of Frege’s Grundlagen may be seen as a justification for the truth of abstraction principles. The justification is grounded in the procedureofcontent recarvingwhich Frege describes in the passage. In this paper I argue that Frege’sprocedure of content recarving while possibly correct in the case of first-order equivalencerelations is insufficient to grant the truth of second-order abstractions. Moreover, I propose apossible way of justifying second-order abstractions by referring to the operation of contentrecarving and I show (...) that the proposal relies to a certain extent on the Basic Law V. Therefore,if we are to justify the truth of second-order abstractions by invoking the content recarvingprocedure we are committed to a special status of some instances of the Basic Law V and thusto a special status of extensions of concepts as abstract objects. (shrink)
This book offers a phenomenological conception of experiential justification that seeks to clarify why certain experiences are a source of immediate justification and what role experiences play in gaining (scientific) knowledge. Based on the author's account of experiential justification, this book exemplifies how a phenomenological experience-first epistemology can epistemically ground the individual sciences. More precisely, it delivers a comprehensive picture of how we get from epistemology to the foundations of mathematics and physics. The book is unique as it utilizes methods (...) and insights from the phenomenological tradition in order to make progress in current analytic epistemology. It serves as a starting point for re-evaluating the relevance of Husserlian phenomenology to current analytic epistemology and making an important step towards paving the way for future mutually beneficial discussions. This is achieved by exemplifying how current debates can benefit from ideas, insights, and methods we find in the phenomenological tradition. (shrink)
Field’s challenge to platonists is the challenge to explain the reliable match between mathematical truth and belief. The challenge grounds an objection claiming that platonists cannot provide such an explanation. This objection is often taken to be both neutral with respect to controversial epistemological assumptions, and a comparatively forceful objection against platonists. I argue that these two characteristics are in tension: no construal of the objection in the current literature realises both, and there are strong reasons to think that no (...) version of Field’s epistemological objection which has both Neutrality and Force can be construed. (shrink)
Proof-theoretic reflection principles have been discussed in proof theory ever since Gödel’s discovery of the incompleteness theorems. But these reflection principles have not received much attention in the philosophical community. The present chapter aims to survey some of the principal meta-mathematical results on the iteration of proof-theoretic reflection principles and investigate these results from a logico-philosophical perspective; we will concentrate on the epistemological significance of these technical results and on the epistemic notions involved in the proofs. In particular, we will (...) focus on the notions of commitment to and acceptance of a theory. Special attention is given to the connection between proof-theoretic reflection and axiomatic truth theories. After distinguishing between different types of proof-theoretic reflection principles, we review some proof-theoretic results concerning extensions of formal theories by (iterated) reflection principles. As basis theories, we concentrate on standard arithmetical and elementary axiomatic truth theories. We then go on to explore the epistemological significance of these results. In this investigation, we aim to show that the epistemic notion of acceptance of (or commitment to) a theory plays a crucial role in the philosophical argumentation for reflection principles and their iteration. (shrink)
How does Quine fare in the first decades of the twenty-first century? In this paper I examine a cluster of Quinean theses that, I believe, are especially fruitful in meeting some of the current challenges of epistemology and ontology. These theses offer an alternative to the traditional bifurcations of truth and knowledge into factual and conceptual-pragmatic-conventional, the traditional conception of a foundation for knowledge, and traditional realism. To make the most of Quine’s ideas, however, we have to take an active (...) stance: accept some of his ideas and reject others, sort different versions of the relevant ideas, sharpen or revise some of the ideas, connect them with new, non-Quinean ideas, and so on. As a result the paper pits Quine against Quine, in an attempt to identify those Quinean ideas that have a lasting value and sketch potential developments. (shrink)