Internalism and Externalism in the Foundations of Mathematics

Axel Barceló
Institute Of Philosophy, Mexico
Without a doubt, one of the main reasons Platonsim remains such a strong contender in the Foundations of Mathematics debate is because of the prima facie plausibility of the claim that objectivity needs objects. It seems like nothing else but the existence of external referents for the terms of our mathematical theories and calculations can guarantee the objectivity of our mathematical knowledge. The reason why Frege – and most Platonists ever since – could not adhere to the idea that mathematical objects were mental, conventional or in any other way dependent on our faculties, will or other historical contingencies was that objects whose properties of existence depended on such contingencies could not warrant the objectivity required for scientific knowledge. This idea gained currency in the second half of the 19th Century and remains current for the most part today. However, it was not always like that. Objectivity, after all, has a history, and according to its historians (Daston 2001), the view that scientific knowledge need be objective is a fairly recent one. Up until mid-19th Century, science was not so much concerned with objectivity, as it was concerned with truth. Before the rise of the modern university and the professional scientist, science had the discovery of truths as its ultimate goal. In contrast, modern science now aims at the production and acquisition of objective knowledge. The difference might seem..
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