Bahram Assadian
University of Amsterdam
There are two ways of thinking about the natural numbers: as ordinal numbers or as cardinal numbers. It is, moreover, well‐known that the cardinal numbers can be defined in terms of the ordinal numbers. Some philosophies of mathematics have taken this as a reason to hold the ordinal numbers as fundamental. By discussing structuralism and neo‐logicism we argue that one can empirically distinguish between accounts that endorse this fundamentality claim and those that do not. In particular, we argue that if the ordinal numbers are metaphysically fundamental then it follows that one cannot acquire cardinal number concepts without appeal to ordinal notions. On the other hand, without this fundamentality thesis that would be possible. This allows for an empirical test to see which account best describes our actual mathematical practices. We then, finally, discuss some empirical data that suggests that we can acquire cardinal number concepts without using ordinal notions. However, there are some important gaps left open by this data that we point to as areas for future empirical research.
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DOI 10.1111/phpr.12499
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology.Stewart Shapiro - 1997 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
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Core Systems of Number.Stanislas Dehaene, Elizabeth Spelke & Lisa Feigenson - 2004 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (7):307-314.

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Citations of this work BETA

Abstractionism and Mathematical Singular Reference.Bahram Assadian - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (2):177-198.

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