One prominent criticism of the abstractionist program is the so-calledBad Companyobjection. The complaint is that abstraction principles cannot in general be a legitimate way to introduce mathematical theories, since some of them are inconsistent. The most notorious example, of course, is Frege’s Basic Law V. A common response to the objection suggests that an abstraction principle can be used to legitimately introduce a mathematical theory precisely when it isstable: when it can be made true on all sufficiently large domains. In (...) this paper, we raise a worry for this response to the Bad Company objection. We argue, perhaps surprisingly, that it requires very strong assumptions about the range of the second-order quantifiers; assumptions that the abstractionist should reject. (shrink)
Some tools introduced by Linnebo to show that mathematical entities are thin objects can also be applied to non-mathematical entities, which have been thought to be thin as well for a variety of reasons. In this paper, I discuss some difficulties and opportunities concerning the application of abstraction and interpretational modalities to mereological sums. In particular, I show that on one hand some prima facie attractive candidates for the role of an explanatory plural abstraction principle for mereological sums (in terms (...) of pluralities of summed entities) are not really explanatory; on the other hand, singular abstraction principles (in terms of single summed entities) are materially inadequate. Nonetheless, explanatory criteria of identity and conditions of existence for mereological sums are provided by classical extensional mereology independent of abstraction principles. Thus, given classical extensional mereology, the reasons why, according to Linnebo, mathematical abstracted entities are thin also hold for mereological sums. Finally, I contend that interpretational modalities can be used to characterise the process by which a subject adds sums of previously admitted entities to the domain of quantification. (shrink)
In Thin Objects: An Abstractionist Account, Linnebo offers what he describes as a “simple and definitive” solution to the bad company problem facing abstractionist accounts of mathematics. “Bad” abstraction principles can be rendered “good” by taking abstraction to have a predicative character. But the resulting predicative axioms are too weak to recover substantial portions of mathematics. Linnebo pursues two quite different strategies to overcome this weakness in the case of set theory and arithmetic. I argue that neither infinitely iterated abstraction (...) nor abstraction on possible specifications fully resolves the bad company problem. (shrink)
According to the Bad Company objection, the fact that Frege’s infamous Basic Law V instantiates the general definitional pattern of higher-order abstraction principles is a good reason to doubt the soundness of this sort of definitions. In this paper I argue against this objection by showing that the definitional pattern of abstraction principles – as extrapolated from §64 of Frege’s Grundlagen– includes an additional requirement (which I call the specificity condition) that is not satisfied by the Basic Law V while (...) is satisfied by other higher-order abstractions such as Hume’s Principle. I also show that the failure of this additional requirement in the case of Basic Law V is engendered by an essential feature of Frege’s conception of logic and thus that Frege himself should not have regarded the Basic Law V as a definition by abstraction. (shrink)
In 1907 Einstein had the insight that bodies in free fall do not “feel” their own weight. This has been formalized in what is called “the principle of equivalence.” The principle motivated a critical analysis of the Newtonian and special-relativistic concepts of inertia, and it was indispensable to Einstein’s development of his theory of gravitation. A great deal has been written about the principle. Nearly all of this work has focused on the content of the principle and whether it has (...) any content in Einsteinian gravitation, but more remains to be said about its methodological role in the development of the theory. I argue that the principle should be understood as a kind of foundational principle known as a criterion of identity. This work extends and substantiates a recent account of the notion of a criterion of identity by William Demopoulos. Demopoulos argues that the notion can be employed more widely than in the foundations of arithmetic and that we see this in the development of physical theories, in particular space–time theories. This new account forms the basis of a general framework for applying a number of mathematical theories and for distinguishing between applied mathematical theories that are and are not empirically constrained. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege defined cardinal numbers in terms of value-ranges governed by the inconsistent Basic Law V. Neo-logicists have revived something like Frege's original project by introducing cardinal numbers as primitive objects, governed by Hume's Principle. A neo-logicist foundation for set theory, however, requires a consistent theory of value-ranges of some sort. Thus, it is natural to ask whether we can reconstruct the cardinal numbers by retaining Frege's definition and adopting an alternative consistent principle governing value-ranges. Given some natural assumptions regarding (...) what an acceptable neo-logicistic theory of value-ranges might look like, successfully implementing this alternative approach is impossible. (shrink)
The paper challenges a widely held interpretation of Frege's conception of logic on which the constituent clauses of basic law V have the same sense. I argue against this interpretation by first carefully looking at the development of Frege's thoughts in Grundlagen with respect to the status of abstraction principles. In doing so, I put forth a new interpretation of Grundlagen §64 and Frege's idea of ‘recarving of content’. I then argue that there is strong evidence in Grundgesetze that Frege (...) did not hold the relevant sense-identity claim regarding basic law V. (shrink)
Sections “Introduction: Hume’s Principle, Basic Law V and Cardinal Arithmetic” and “The Julius Caesar Problem in Grundlagen—A Brief Characterization” are peparatory. In Section “Analyticity”, I consider the options that Frege might have had to establish the analyticity of Hume’s Principle, bearing in mind that with its analytic or non-analytic status the intended logical foundation of cardinal arithmetic stands or falls. Section “Thought Identity and Hume’s Principle” is concerned with the two criteria of thought identity that Frege states in 1906 and (...) their application to Hume’s Principle. In Section “The Nature ofion: A Critical Assessment of Grundlagen, §64”, I scrutinize Frege’s characterization of abstraction in Grundlagen, §64 and criticize in this context the currently widespread use of the terms “recarving” and “reconceptualization”. Section “Frege’s Proof of Hume’s Principle” is devoted to the formal details of Frege’s proof of Hume’s Principle. I begin by considering his proof sketch in Grundlagen and subsequently reconstruct in modern notation essential parts of the formal proof in Grundgesetze. In Section “Equinumerosity and Coextensiveness: Hume’s Principle and Basic Law V Again”, I discuss the criteria of identity embodied in Hume’s Principle and in Basic Law V, equinumerosity and coextensiveness. In Section “Julius Caesar and Cardinal Numbers—A Brief Comparison Between Grundlagen and Grundgesetze ”, I comment on the Julius Caesar problem arising from Hume’s Principle in Grundlagen and analyze the reasons for its absence in this form in Grundgesetze. I conclude with reflections on the introduction of the cardinals and the reals by abstraction in the context of Frege’s logicism. (shrink)
Frege's Grundgesetze was one of the 19th century forerunners to contemporary set theory which was plagued by the Russell paradox. In recent years, it has been shown that subsystems of the Grundgesetze formed by restricting the comprehension schema are consistent. One aim of this paper is to ascertain how much set theory can be developed within these consistent fragments of the Grundgesetze, and our main theorem shows that there is a model of a fragment of the Grundgesetze which defines a (...) model of all the axioms of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with the exception of the power set axiom. The proof of this result appeals to G\"odel's constructible universe of sets, which G\"odel famously used to show the relative consistency of the continuum hypothesis. More specifically, our proofs appeal to Kripke and Platek's idea of the projectum within the constructible universe as well as to a weak version of uniformization (which does not involve knowledge of Jensen's fine structure theory). The axioms of the Grundgesetze are examples of abstraction principles, and the other primary aim of this paper is to articulate a sufficient condition for the consistency of abstraction principles with limited amounts of comprehension. As an application, we resolve an analogue of the joint consistency problem in the predicative setting. (shrink)
I offer in this paper a contextual analysis of Frege's Grundlagen, section 64. It is surprising that with so much ink spilled on that section, the sources of Frege's discussion of definitions by abstraction have remained elusive. I hope to have filled this gap by providing textual evidence coming from, among other sources, Grassmann, Schlömilch, and the tradition of textbooks in geometry for secondary schools . In addition, I put Frege's considerations in the context of a widespread debate in Germany (...) on ‘directions’ as a central notion in the theory of parallels. (shrink)
Neo-logicism is, not least in the light of Frege’s logicist programme, an important topic in the current philosophy of mathematics. In this essay, I critically discuss a number of issues that I consider to be relevant for both Frege’s logicism and neo-logicism. I begin with a brief introduction into Wright’s neo-Fregean project and mention the main objections that he faces. In Sect. 2, I discuss the Julius Caesar problem and its possible Fregean and neo-Fregean solution. In Sect. 3, I raise (...) what I take to be a central objection to the position of neo-logicism. In Sect. 4, I attempt to clarify how we should understand Frege’s stipulation that the two sides of an abstraction principle qua contextual definition of a term-forming operator shall be “gleichbedeutend”. In Sect. 5, I consider the options that Frege might have had to establish the analyticity of Hume’s Principle: The number that belongs to the concept F is equal to the number that belongs to the concept G if and only if F and G are equinumerous. Section 6 is devoted to Frege’s two criteria of thought identity. In Sects. 7 and 8, I defend the position of the neo-logicist against an alleged “knock-down argument”. In Sect. 9, I comment on Frege’s description of abstraction in Grundlagen, §64 and the use of the terms “recarving” and “reconceptualization” in the relevant literature on Fregean abstraction and neo-logicism. I argue that Fregean abstraction has nothing to do with the recarving of a sentence content or its decomposition in different ways. I conclude with remarks on global logicism versus local logicisms. (shrink)
The objective of this work is to show, according to Frege, in which the procedure consists of 'abstraction' he worded unsystematic in Chapter IV, in the context of § § 64-69 ss. Fundamentals of Arithmetic. This procedure, although controversial, is a key operator for defining the concept of number, the object of investigation of that chapter. At the beginning of § 62, asks the question: how can we therefore be given a number, if we can not have him no representation (...) or intuition? In a concise manner, that responds only in the context of a proposition words mean something. Frege seeks to define the concept of number in a holistic way, based on relationships until you reach your final definition of the numbers in propositions that are objective and that follow. However, this proposal needs to be set and the procedure which uses is the "abstraction" which is exemplified by (i) parallel and (ii) equinumerosity. That is scoped to an equivalence relation: symmetry, reflexivity and transitivity, all the internal principles mentioned procedure. Further, it will show the relevance of the criticism waged the notion of abstract objects (numbers) prepared by E. J. Lowe in his book The Metaphysics of Abstract Objectsin section II about abstract entities. (shrink)
Frege proved an important result, concerning the relation of arithmetic to second-order logic, that bears on several issues in linguistics. Frege’s Theorem illustrates the logic of relations like PRECEDES(x, y) and TALLER(x, y), while raising doubts about the idea that we understand sentences like ‘Carl is taller than Al’ in terms of abstracta like heights and numbers. Abstract paraphrase can be useful—as when we say that Carl’s height exceeds Al’s—without reflecting semantic structure. Related points apply to causal relations, and even (...) grammatical relations like DOMINATES(x, y). Perhaps surprisingly, Frege provides the resources needed to recursively characterize labelled expressions without characterizing them as sets. His theorem may also bear on questions about the meaning and acquisition of number words. (shrink)
For both Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, providing a philosophical account of the concept of number was a central goal, pursued along similar logicist lines. In the present paper, I want to focus on a particular aspect of their accounts: their definitions, or re-constructions, of the natural numbers as equivalence classes of equinumerous classes. In other words, I want to examine what is often called the ‘Frege-Russell conception of the natural numbers’ or, more briefly, the Frege-Russell numbers. My main concern (...) will be to determine the precise sense in which this conception was, or could be, meant to constitute an analysis. I will be mostly concerned with Frege’s views on the matter; but Russell will come up along the way, for illustration and comparison, as will some recent neo-Fregean suggestions. (shrink)
In his "Grundgesetze", Frege hints that prior to his theory that cardinal numbers are objects he had an "almost completed" manuscript on cardinals. Taking this early theory to have been an account of cardinals as second-level functions, this paper works out the significance of the fact that Frege's cardinal numbers is a theory of concept-correlates. Frege held that, where n > 2, there is a one—one correlation between each n-level function and an n—1 level function, and a one—one correlation between (...) each first-level function and an object. Applied to cardinals, the correlation offers new answers to some perplexing features of Frege's philosophy. It is shown that within Frege's concept-script, a generalized form of Hume's Principle is equivalent to Russell's Principle ofion — a principle Russell employed to demonstrate the inadequacy of definition by abstraction. Accordingly, Frege's rejection of definition of cardinal number by Hume's Principle parallels Russell's objection to definition by abstraction. Frege's correlation thesis reveals that he has a way of meeting the structuralist challenge that it is arithmetic, and not a privileged progression of objects, that matters to the finite cardinals. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall discuss several topics related to Frege’s paradigms of second-order abstraction principles and his logicism. The discussion includes a critical examination of some controversial views put forward mainly by Robin Jeshion, Tyler Burge, Crispin Wright, Richard Heck and John MacFarlane. In the introductory section, I try to shed light on the connection between logical abstraction and logical objects. The second section contains a critical appraisal of Frege’s notion of evidence and its interpretation by Jeshion, the introduction (...) of the course-of-values operator and Frege’s attitude towards Axiom V, in the expression of which this operator occurs as the key primitive term. Axiom V says that the course-of-values of the function f is identical with the course-of-values of the function g if and only if f and g are coextensional. In the third section, I intend to show that in Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884) Frege hardly could have construed Hume’s Principle (HP) as a primitive truth of logic and used it as an axiom governing the cardinality operator as a primitive sign. HP expresses that the number of Fs is identical with the number of Gs if and only if F and G are equinumerous. In the fourth section, I argue that Wright falls short of making a convincing case for the alleged analyticity of HP. In the final section, I canvass Heck’s arguments for his contention that Frege knew he could deduce the simplest laws of arithmetic from HP without invoking Axiom V. I argue that they do not carry conviction. I conclude this section by rejecting an interpretation concerning HP suggested by MacFarlane. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall discuss several topics related to Frege's paradigms of second-order abstraction principles and his logicism. The discussion includes a critical examination of some controversial views put forward mainly by Robin Jeshion, Tyler Burge, Crispin Wright, Richard Heck and John MacFarlane. In the introductory section, I try to shed light on the connection between logical abstraction and logical objects. The second section contains a critical appraisal of Frege's notion of evidence and its interpretation by Jeshion, the introduction (...) of the course-of-values operator and Frege's attitude towards Axiom V, in the expression of which this operator occurs as the key primitive term. Axiom V says that the course-of-values of the function f is identical with the course-of-values of the function g if and only if f and g are coextensional. In the third section, I intend to show that in Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik Frege hardly could have construed Hume's Principle as a primitive truth of logic and used it as an axiom governing the cardinality operator as a primitive sign. HP expresses that the number of Fs is identical with the number of Gs if and only if F and G are equinumerous. In the fourth section, I argue that Wright falls short of making a convincing case for the alleged analyticity of HP. In the final section, I canvass Heck's arguments for his contention that Frege knew he could deduce the simplest laws of arithmetic from HP without invoking Axiom V. I argue that they do not carry conviction. I conclude this section by rejecting an interpretation concerning HP suggested by MacFarlane. (shrink)
Frege's logicist program requires that arithmetic be reduced to logic. Such a program has recently been revamped by the "neologicist" approach of Hale and Wright. Less attention has been given to Frege's extensionalist program, according to which arithmetic is to be reconstructed in terms of a theory of extensions of concepts. This paper deals just with such a theory. We present a system of second-order logic augmented with a predicate representing the fact that an object x is the extension of (...) a concept C, together with extra-logical axioms governing such a predicate, and show that arithmetic can be obtained in such a framework. As a philosophical payoff, we investigate the status of the so-called Hume's Principle and its connections to the root of the contradiction in Frege's system. (shrink)
A co-authored article with Roy T. Cook forthcoming in a special edition on the Caesar Problem of the journal Dialectica. We argue against the appeal to equivalence classes in resolving the Caesar Problem.
Book Information The Limits of Abstraction. The Limits of Abstraction Kit Fine , Oxford : Clarendon Press , 2002 , x + 203 , £18.99 (cloth). By Kit Fine. Clarendon Press. Oxford. Pp. x + 203. £18.99 (cloth).
In Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik, Frege attempted to introduce cardinalnumbers as logical objects by means of a second-order abstraction principlewhich is now widely known as ``Hume's Principle'' (HP): The number of Fsis identical with the number of Gs if and only if F and G are equinumerous.The attempt miscarried, because in its role as a contextual definition HP fails tofix uniquely the reference of the cardinality operator ``the number of Fs''. Thisproblem of referential indeterminacy is usually called ``the Julius Caesar (...) problem''.In this paper, Frege's treatment of the problem in Grundlagen is critically assessed. In particular, I try to shed new light on it by paying special attention to the framework of his logicism in which it appears embedded. I argue, among other things, that the Caesar problem, which is supposed to stem from Frege's tentative inductive definition of the natural numbers, is only spurious, not genuine; that the genuine Caesar problem deriving from HP is a purely semantic one and that the prospects of removing it by explicitly defining cardinal numbers as objects which are not classes are presumably poor for Frege. I conclude by rejecting two closely connected theses concerning Caesar put forward by Richard Heck: (i) that Frege could not abandon Axiom V because he could not solve the Julius Caesar problem without it; (ii) that (by his own lights) his logicist programme in Grundgesetze der Arithmetik failed because he could not overcome that problem. (shrink)
The traditional understanding of abstraction operates on the basis of the assumption that only entities are subject to thought processes in which particulars are disregarded and commonalities are lifted out (the so-called method of genus proximum and differentia specifica). On this basis Frege criticized the notion of abstraction and convincingly argued that (this kind of) “entitary- directed” abstraction can never provide us with any numbers. However, Frege did not consider the alternative of “property- abstraction.” In this article an argument for (...) this alternative kind of abstraction is formulated by introducing a notion of the “modal universality” of the arithmetical and by developing it in terms of the distinction between type-laws (laws for entities – applicable to a limited class of entities) and modal laws (obtaining for every possible entity without any restriction). In order to substantiate this argument a case is made for the acceptance of an ontic foundation for the arithmetical (and other modes or functions of reality – with special reference to Cassirer, Bernays, Gödel and Wang), which, in the final section, serves to give an ontological account of (i) the connections between the arithmetical and other aspects of reality and (ii) the applicabality of arithmetic. In the course of the argument the impasse of logicism is briefly highlighted, while a few remarks are made with regard to the logical subject- object relation in connection with Frege's view that number attaches to a concept. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(1) 2003: 63-80. (shrink)
Kit Fine develops a Fregean theory of abstraction, and suggests that it may yield a new philosophical foundation for mathematics, one that can account for both our reference to various mathematical objects and our knowledge of various mathematical truths. The Limits ofion breaks new ground both technically and philosophically.
On the neo-Fregean approach to the foundations of mathematics, elementary arithmetic is analytic in the sense that the addition of a principle wliich may be held to IMJ explanatory of the concept of cardinal number to a suitable second-order logical basis suffices for the derivation of its basic laws. This principle, now commonly called Hume's principle, is an example of a Fregean abstraction principle. In this paper, I assume the correctness of the neo-Fregean position on elementary aritlunetic and seek to (...) explain one way in which it may be extended to encompass the theory of real numbers, introducing the reals, by means of suitable further abstraction principles, as ratios of quantities. (shrink)
George Boolos, Crispin Wright, and others have demonstrated how most of Frege's treatment of arithmetic can be obtained from a second-order statement that Boolos dubbed ‘Hume's principle’. This note explores the historical evidence that Frege originally planned to develop a philosophical approach to numbers in which Hume's principle is central, but this strategy was abandoned midway through his Grundlagen.