Numbers

Edited by Rafal Urbaniak (Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego, Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego)
Assistant editors: Pawel Pawlowski, Sam Roberts
About this topic
Summary Various theories concerned with numbers (arithmetic, real number theory, ...) are among the most often taught and applied mathematical theories. Accordingly, philosophers paid a significant amount of attention to considerations pertaining the status of such theories and the nature of numbers and number-theoretic discourse. Because of their relative simplicity, philosophical discussion surrounding such theories provide a neat proving ground for various wider philosophical accounts of mathematics, which makes this category fairly closely intertwined with other categories falling under Ontology of Mathematics.
Key works Frege 1950 is a seminal work on the philosophy of numbers (his approached has been further developed byWright 1983). A very good anthology of classic papers is van Heijenoort 1967.
Introductions Potter 2000 is a nice book to start with. 
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359 found
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1 — 50 / 359
  1. The Cultural Phenomenology of Qualitative Quantity - Work in Progress - Introduction Autobiographical.Borislav Dimitrov - manuscript
    This study is about the Quality. Here I have dealt with the quality that differs significantly from the common understanding of quality /as determined quality/ that arise from the law of dialectics. This new quality is the quality of the quantity /quality of the quantitative changes/, noticed in philosophy by Plato as “quality of numbers”, and later developed by Hegel as “qualitative quantity. The difference between the known determined quality and qualitative quantity is evident in the exhibit form of these (...)
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  2. How Can Mathematical Objects Be Real but Mind-Dependent?Hazhir Roshangar - manuscript
    Taking mathematics as a language based on empirical experience, I argue for an account of mathematics in which its objects are abstracta that describe and communicate the structure of reality based on some of our ancestral interactions with their environment. I argue that mathematics as a language is mostly invented, and it is mind-dependent in a specific sense. However, the bases of mathematics will characterize it as a real, non-fictional science of structures.
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  3. To Reduce Nothingness Into a Reference by Falsity.Hazhir Roshangar - manuscript
    Assuming the absolute nothingness as the most basic object of thought, I present a way to refer to this object, by reducing it onto a primitive object that supersedes and comes right after the absolute nothingness. The new primitive object that is constructed can be regarded as a formal system that can generate some infinite variety of symbols. [The PDF here is outdated, for a recent draft please contact me.].
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  4. On Some Properties of Numbers.Jason Katzourakis - forthcoming - Eleutheria.
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  5. Numbers: No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed.Ken Knisely, Michael Moses, Ihran Izmirlih & Michael Stein - forthcoming - DVD.
    How is it that numbers can magically map the world around us? Are numbers really Real? Was Pythagoras completely crazy when he seemed to regard numbers as divine entities capable of revealing the truth about things around us? With Michael Moses, Ihran Izmirlih, and Michael Stein.
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  6. Jacob Bernoulli on Analysis, Synthesis, and the Law of Large Numbers.Edith Dudley Sylla - forthcoming - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
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  7. Numbers Game.Mitsuye Yamada - forthcoming - Feminist Studies.
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  8. The Billionaire.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory/.
    Zero and one. Circumference and diameter. Intelligent anarchy. Explanation for abstraction (as a noun) (as a verb).
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  9. Invasive Weeds in Parmenides' Garden.Olga Ramirez Calle - 2020 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 20 (60):391-412.
    The paper attempts to conciliate the important distinction between what-is, or exists, and what-is-not _thereby supporting Russell’s existential analysis_ with some Meinongian insights. For this purpose, it surveys the varied inhabitants of the realm of ‘non-being’ and tries to clarify their diverse statuses. The position that results makes it possible to rescue them back in surprising but non-threatening form, leaving our ontology safe from contradiction.
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  10. The adverbial theory of numbers: some clarifications.Joongol Kim - 2020 - Synthese 197 (9):3981-4000.
    In a forthcoming paper in this journal, entitled “Bad company objection to Joongol Kim’s adverbial theory of numbers”, Namjoong Kim presents an ingenious Russell-style paradox based on an analogue of Kim’s definition of the number 1, and argues that Kim’s theory needs to provide a criterion of demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable definitions of adverbial entities. This paper addresses this ‘bad company’ objection and some other related issues concerning Kim’s adverbial theory by clarifying the purposes and uses of the formal (...)
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  11. Correction To: Bad Company Objection to Joongol Kim’s Adverbial Theory of Numbers.Namjoong Kim - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1379-1379.
    Unfortunately, there is a typo in the author name. The correct spelling is Namjoong Kim. The author name was updated in the original publication.
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  12. Fermat’s Last Theorem Proved by Induction (and Accompanied by a Philosophical Comment).Vasil Penchev - 2020 - Metaphilosophy eJournal (Elsevier: SSRN) 12 (8):1-8.
    A proof of Fermat’s last theorem is demonstrated. It is very brief, simple, elementary, and absolutely arithmetical. The necessary premises for the proof are only: the three definitive properties of the relation of equality (identity, symmetry, and transitivity), modus tollens, axiom of induction, the proof of Fermat’s last theorem in the case of.
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  13. Numbers, Empiricism and the A Priori.Olga Ramírez Calle - 2020 - Logos and Episteme 11 (2):149-177.
    The present paper deals with the ontological status of numbers and considers Frege´s proposal in Grundlagen upon the background of the Post-Kantian semantic turn in analytical philosophy. Through a more systematic study of his philosophical premises, it comes to unearth a first level paradox that would unset earlier still than it was exposed by Russell. It then studies an alternative path that, departing from Frege’s initial premises, drives to a conception of numbers as synthetic a priori in a more Kantian (...)
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  14. Learning the Natural Numbers as a Child.Stefan Buijsman - 2019 - Noûs 53 (1):3-22.
    How do we get out knowledge of the natural numbers? Various philosophical accounts exist, but there has been comparatively little attention to psychological data on how the learning process actually takes place. I work through the psychological literature on number acquisition with the aim of characterising the acquisition stages in formal terms. In doing so, I argue that we need a combination of current neologicist accounts and accounts such as that of Parsons. In particular, I argue that we learn the (...)
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  15. On the Varieties of Abstract Objects.James E. Davies - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):809-823.
    I reconcile the spatiotemporal location of repeatable artworks and impure sets with the non-location of natural numbers despite all three being varieties of abstract objects. This is possible because, while the identity conditions for all three can be given by abstraction principles, in the former two cases spatiotemporal location is a congruence for the equivalence relation featuring in the relevant principle, whereas in the latter it is not. I then generalize this to other ‘physical’ properties like shape, mass, and causal (...)
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  16. In Defense of Benacerraf’s Multiple-Reductions Argument.Michele Ginammi - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (2):276-288.
    I discuss Steinhart’s argument against Benacerraf’s famous multiple-reductions argument to the effect that numbers cannot be sets. Steinhart offers a mathematical argument according to which there is only one series of sets to which the natural numbers can be reduced, and thus attacks Benacerraf’s assumption that there are multiple reductions of numbers to sets. I will argue that Steinhart’s argument is problematic and should not be accepted.
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  17. Apophatic Finitism and Infinitism.Jan Heylen - 2019 - Logique Et Analyse 62 (247):319-337.
    This article is about the ontological dispute between finitists, who claim that only finitely many numbers exist, and infinitists, who claim that infinitely many numbers exist. Van Bendegem set out to solve the 'general problem' for finitism: how can one recast finite fragments of classical mathematics in finitist terms? To solve this problem Van Bendegem comes up with a new brand of finitism, namely so-called 'apophatic finitism'. In this article it will be argued that apophatic finitism is unable to represent (...)
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  18. Loose Talk, Scale Presuppositions and QUD.Daniel Hoek - 2019 - In Julian J. Schlöder, Dean McHugh & Floris Roelofsen (eds.), Proceedings of the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium. pp. 171-180.
    I present a new pragmatic theory of loose talk, focussing on the loose use of numbers and measurement expressions. The account explains loose readings as arising from a pragmatic mechanism aimed at restoring relevance to the question under discussion (QUD), appealing to Krifka's notion of a measurement scale. The core motivating observation is that the loose reading of a claim need not be weaker than its literal content, as almost all pragmatic treatments of loose talk have assumed (e.g. Lasersohn). The (...)
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  19. The Problem of Fregean Equivalents.Joongol Kim - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (3):367-394.
    It would seem that some statements like ‘There are exactly four moons of Jupiter’ and ‘The number of moons of Jupiter is four’ have the same truth-conditions and yet differ in ontological commitment. One strategy to resolve this paradoxical phenomenon is to insist that the statements have not only the same truth-conditions but also the same ontological commitments; the other strategy is to reject the presumption that they have the same truth-conditions. This paper critically examines some popular versions of these (...)
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  20. Deflationary Nominalism and Puzzle Avoidance.David Mark Kovacs - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (1):88-104.
    In a series of works, Jody Azzouni has defended deflationary nominalism, the view that certain sentences quantifying over mathematical objects are literally true, although such objects do not exist. One alleged attraction of this view is that it avoids various philosophical puzzles about mathematical objects. I argue that this thought is misguided. I first develop an ontologically neutral counterpart of Field’s reliability challenge and argue that deflationary nominalism offers no distinctive answer to it. I then show how this reasoning generalizes (...)
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  21. Hitting a Moving Target: Gödel, Carnap, and Mathematics as Logical Syntax.Gregory Lavers - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (2):219-243.
    From 1953 to 1959 Gödel worked on a response to Carnap’s philosophy of mathematics. The drafts display Gödel’s familiarity with Carnap’s position from The Logical Syntax of Language, but they received a dismissive reaction on their eventual, posthumous, publication. Gödel’s two principal points, however, will here be defended. Gödel, though, had wished simply to append a few paragraphs to show that the same arguments apply to Carnap’s later views. Carnap’s position, however, had changed significantly in the intervening years, and to (...)
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  22. Maths, Logic and Language.Tetsuaki Iwamoto - 2018 - Geneva: Logic Forum.
    A work on the philosophy of mathematics (2017) -/- ‘Number’, such a simple idea, and yet it fascinated and absorbed the greatest proportion of human geniuses over centuries, not to mention the likes of Pythagoras, Euclid, Newton, Leibniz, Descartes and countless maths giants like Euler, Gauss and Hilbert, etc.. Einstein thought of pure maths as the poetry of logical ideas, the exactitude of which, although independent of experience, strangely seems to benefit the study of the objects of reality. And, interestingly (...)
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  23. Arbitrary Reference, Numbers, and Propositions.Michele Palmira - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1069-1085.
    Reductionist realist accounts of certain entities, such as the natural numbers and propositions, have been taken to be fatally undermined by what we may call the problem of arbitrary identification. The problem is that there are multiple and equally adequate reductions of the natural numbers to sets (see Benacerraf, 1965), as well as of propositions to unstructured or structured entities (see, e.g., Bealer, 1998; King, Soames, & Speaks, 2014; Melia, 1992). This paper sets out to solve the problem by canvassing (...)
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  24. What We Talk About When We Talk About Numbers.Richard Pettigrew - 2018 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 169 (12):1437-1456.
    In this paper, I describe and motivate a new species of mathematical structuralism, which I call Instrumental Nominalism about Set-Theoretic Structuralism. As the name suggests, this approach takes standard Set-Theoretic Structuralism of the sort championed by Bourbaki and removes its ontological commitments by taking an instrumental nominalist approach to that ontology of the sort described by Joseph Melia and Gideon Rosen. I argue that this avoids all of the problems that plague other versions of structuralism.
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  25. Beyond Witches, Angels and Unicorns. The Possibility of Expanding Russell´s Existential Analysis.Olga Ramirez - 2018 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 25 (1):4-15.
    This paper attempts to be a contribution to the epistemological project of explaining complex conceptual structures departing from more basic ones. The central thesis of the paper is that there are what I call “functionally structured concepts”, these are non-harmonic concepts in Dummett’s sense that might be legitimized if there is a function that justifies the tie between the inferential connection the concept allows us to trace. Proving this requires enhancing the russellian existential analysis of definite descriptions to apply to (...)
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  26. Abstract Entities.Sam Cowling - 2017 - Routledge.
    Think of a number, any number, or properties like fragility and humanity. These and other abstract entities are radically different from concrete entities like electrons and elbows. While concrete entities are located in space and time, have causes and effects, and are known through empirical means, abstract entities like meanings and possibilities are remarkably different. They seem to be immutable and imperceptible and to exist "outside" of space and time. This book provides a comprehensive critical assessment of the problems raised (...)
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  27. Our Incorrigible Ontological Relations and Categories of Being.Julian M. Galvez Bunge (ed.) - 2017 - USA: Amazon.
    The purpose of this book is to address the controversial issues of whether we have a fixed set of ontological categories and if they have some epistemic value at all. Which are our ontological categories? What determines them? Do they play a role in cognition? If so, which? What do they force to presuppose regarding our world-view? If they constitute a limit to possible knowledge, up to what point is science possible? Does their study make of philosophy a science? Departing (...)
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  28. The Psychology and Philosophy of Natural Numbers.Oliver R. Marshall - 2017 - Philosophia Mathematica (1):nkx002.
    ABSTRACT I argue against both neuropsychological and cognitive accounts of our grasp of numbers. I show that despite the points of divergence between these two accounts, they face analogous problems. Both presuppose too much about what they purport to explain to be informative, and also characterize our grasp of numbers in a way that is absurd in the light of what we already know from the point of view of mathematical practice. Then I offer a positive methodological proposal about the (...)
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  29. Number Words as Number Names.Friederike Moltmann - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (4):331-345.
    This paper criticizes the view that number words in argument position retain the meaning they have on an adjectival or determiner use, as argued by Hofweber :179–225, 2005) and Moltmann :499–534, 2013a, 2013b). In particular the paper re-evaluates syntactic evidence from German given in Moltmann to that effect.
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  30. Realism’s Understanding of Negative Numbers.Petar Bojanic & Sanja Todorovic - 2016 - Filozofija I Društvo 27 (1):131-136.
    Our topic is the understanding of the nature of negative numbers - the entities to which expressions such as?-1? refer. Following Frege, we view positive whole numbers as providing the answer to the question?how many?? In this light, how are we to view negative numbers? Both positive and negative numbers can be ordered through the relation of larger or smaller. It is then true of all negative numbers that they are entities which are smaller than zero. For many, this has (...)
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  31. Structure and Categoricity: Determinacy of Reference and Truth Value in the Philosophy of Mathematics.Tim Button & Sean Walsh - 2016 - Philosophia Mathematica 24 (3):283-307.
    This article surveys recent literature by Parsons, McGee, Shapiro and others on the significance of categoricity arguments in the philosophy of mathematics. After discussing whether categoricity arguments are sufficient to secure reference to mathematical structures up to isomorphism, we assess what exactly is achieved by recent ‘internal’ renditions of the famous categoricity arguments for arithmetic and set theory.
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  32. It All Adds Up …. Or Does It? Numbers, Mathematics and Purpose.Simon Conway Morris - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 58:117-122.
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  33. Speaks's Reduction of Propositions to Properties: A Benacerraf Problem.T. Scott Dixon & Cody Gilmore - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (3):275-284.
    Speaks defends the view that propositions are properties: for example, the proposition that grass is green is the property being such that grass is green. We argue that there is no reason to prefer Speaks's theory to analogous but competing theories that identify propositions with, say, 2-adic relations. This style of argument has recently been deployed by many, including Moore and King, against the view that propositions are n-tuples, and by Caplan and Tillman against King's view that propositions are facts (...)
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  34. Review of Gabriele Lolli, Numeri. La creazione continua della matematica. [REVIEW]Longa Gianluca - 2016 - Lo Sguardo. Rivista di Filosofia 21 (II):377-380.
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  35. Number and Reality: Sources of Scientific Knowledge.Alex V. Halapsis - 2016 - ScienceRise 23 (6):59-64.
    Pythagoras’s number doctrine had a great effect on the development of science. Number – the key to the highest reality, and such approach allowed Pythagoras to transform mathematics from craft into science, which continues implementation of its project of “digitization of being”. Pythagoras's project underwent considerable transformation, but it only means that the plan in knowledge is often far from result.
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  36. Visa to Heaven: Orpheus, Pythagoras, and Immortality.Alex V. Halapsis - 2016 - ScienceRise 25 (8):60-65.
    The article deals with the doctrines of Orpheus and Pythagoras about the immortality of the soul in the context of the birth of philosophy in ancient Greece. Orpheus demonstrated the closeness of heavenly (divine) and earthly (human) worlds, and Pythagoras mathematically proved their fundamental identity. Greek philosophy was “an investment in the afterlife future”, being the product of the mystical (Orpheus) and rationalist (Pythagoras) theology.
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  37. Ontology and the Ambitions of Metaphysics.Thomas Hofweber - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Many significant problems in metaphysics are tied to ontological questions, but ontology and its relation to larger questions in metaphysics give rise to a series of puzzles that suggest that we don't fully understand what ontology is supposed to do, nor what ambitions metaphysics can have for finding out about what the world is like. Thomas Hofweber aims to solve these puzzles about ontology and consequently to make progress on four metaphysical debates tied to ontology: the philosophy of arithmetic, the (...)
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  38. Approaching Infinity.Michael Huemer - 2016 - New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  39. Frege the Carnapian and Carnap the Fregean.Gregory Lavers - 2016 - In Early Analytic Philosophy – New Perspectives on the Tradition. Springer Verlag. pp. 353--373.
    In this paper I examine the fundamental views on the nature of logical and mathematical truth of both Frege and Carnap. I argue that their positions are much closer than is standardly assumed. I attempt to establish this point on two fronts. First, I argue that Frege is not the metaphysical realist that he is standardly taken to be. Second, I argue that Carnap, where he does differ from Frege, can be seen to do so because of mathematical results proved (...)
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  40. The Number of Planets, a Number-Referring Term?Friederike Moltmann - 2016 - In Philip A. Ebert & Marcus Rossberg (eds.), Abstractionism: Essays in Philosophy of Mathematics. Oxford University Press. pp. 113-129.
    The question whether numbers are objects is a central question in the philosophy of mathematics. Frege made use of a syntactic criterion for objethood: numbers are objects because there are singular terms that stand for them, and not just singular terms in some formal language, but in natural language in particular. In particular, Frege (1884) thought that both noun phrases like the number of planets and simple numerals like eight as in (1) are singular terms referring to numbers as abstract (...)
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  41. Neuronal Representation of Numerosity Zero in the Primate Parieto-Frontal Number Network.Araceli Ramirez-Cardenas, Maria Moskaleva & Andreas Nieder - 2016 - Current Biology 26.
    Neurons in the primate parieto-frontal network represent the number of visual items in a collection, but it is unknown whether this system encodes empty sets as conveying null quantity. We recorded from the ventral intraparietal area (VIP) and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of monkeys performing a matching task including empty sets and countable numerosities as stimuli. VIP neurons encoded empty sets predominantly as a distinct category from numerosities. In contrast, PFC neurons represented empty sets more similarly to numerosity one than (...)
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  42. Number Sentences and Specificational Sentences: Reply to Moltmann.Robert Schwartzkopff - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2173-2192.
    Frege proposed that sentences like ‘The number of planets is eight’ be analysed as identity statements in which the number words refer to numbers. Recently, Friederike Moltmann argued that, pace Frege, such sentences be analysed as so-called specificational sentences in which the number words have the same non-referring semantic function as the number word ‘eight’ in ‘There are eight planets’. The aim of this paper is two-fold. First, I argue that Moltmann fails to show that such sentences should be analysed (...)
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  43. A Brief History of Numbers.Leo Corry - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Leo Corry tells the story behind the idea of number, from the early days of the Pythagoreans, up until the turn of the twentieth century. He presents an overview of how numbers were handled and conceived in classical Greek mathematics, in the mathematics of Islam, in European mathematics of the middle ages and the Renaissance, during the scientific revolution, all the way through to the mathematics of the 18th to the early 20th century.
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  44. Do We See Numbers?: James Franklin: An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, 320pp, $110 HB.James Davies - 2015 - Metascience 24 (3):483-486.
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  45. On What There is—Infinitesimals and the Nature of Numbers.Jens Erik Fenstad - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (1):57-79.
    This essay will be divided into three parts. In the first part, we discuss the case of infintesimals seen as a bridge between the discrete and the continuous. This leads in the second part to a discussion of the nature of numbers. In the last part, we follow up with some observations on the obvious applicability of mathematics.
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  46. On the Essence and Identity of Numbers.Mario Gómez-Torrente - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (3):317-329.
    Taking as premises some reasonable principles about the essences of natural numbers, pluralities and sets, the paper offers two types of argument for the conclusions that the natural numbers could not be the Zermelo numbers, the von Neumann numbers, the “Kripke numbers”, or the positions in the ω-structure, among other things. These conclusions are thus Benacerrafian in form, but it is emphasized that the two kinds of argument offered in the paper are anti-Benacerrafian in substance, as they are perfectly compatible (...)
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  47. Comparing Data Sets: Implicit Summaries of the Statistical Properties of Number Sets.Bradley J. Morris & Amy M. Masnick - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (1):156-170.
    Comparing datasets, that is, sets of numbers in context, is a critical skill in higher order cognition. Although much is known about how people compare single numbers, little is known about how number sets are represented and compared. We investigated how subjects compared datasets that varied in their statistical properties, including ratio of means, coefficient of variation, and number of observations, by measuring eye fixations, accuracy, and confidence when assessing differences between number sets. Results indicated that participants implicitly create and (...)
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  48. Aristotelian Finitism.Tamer Nawar - 2015 - Synthese 192 (8):2345-2360.
    It is widely known that Aristotle rules out the existence of actual infinities but allows for potential infinities. However, precisely why Aristotle should deny the existence of actual infinities remains somewhat obscure and has received relatively little attention in the secondary literature. In this paper I investigate the motivations of Aristotle’s finitism and offer a careful examination of some of the arguments considered by Aristotle both in favour of and against the existence of actual infinities. I argue that Aristotle has (...)
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  49. Fourteen Arguments in Favour of a Formalist Philosophy of Real Mathematics.Karlis Podnieks - 2015 - Baltic Journal of Modern Computing 3 (1):1-15.
    The formalist philosophy of mathematics (in its purest, most extreme version) is widely regarded as a “discredited position”. This pure and extreme version of formalism is called by some authors “game formalism”, because it is alleged to represent mathematics as a meaningless game with strings of symbols. Nevertheless, I would like to draw attention to some arguments in favour of game formalism as an appropriate philosophy of real mathematics. For the most part, these arguments have not yet been used or (...)
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  50. Number Sentences and Specificational Sentences. Reply to Moltmann.Robert Schwartzkopff - 2015 - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    Frege proposed that sentences like ‘The number of planets is eight’ be analysed as identity statements in which the number words refer to numbers. Recently, Friederike Moltmann argued that, pace Frege, such sentences be analysed as so-called specificational sentences in which the number words have the same non-referring semantic function as the number word ‘eight’ in ‘There are eight planets’. The aim of this paper is two-fold. First, I argue that Moltmann fails to show that such sentences should be analysed (...)
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