An Aristotelian notion of size

Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 143 (1-3):43-53 (2006)
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Abstract

The naïve idea of “size” for collections seems to obey both Aristotle’s Principle: “the whole is greater than its parts” and Cantor’s Principle: “1-to-1 correspondences preserve size”. Notoriously, Aristotle’s and Cantor’s principles are incompatible for infinite collections. Cantor’s theory of cardinalities weakens the former principle to “the part is not greater than the whole”, but the outcoming cardinal arithmetic is very unusual. It does not allow for inverse operations, and so there is no direct way of introducing infinitesimal numbers. Here we maintain Aristotle’s principle, instead halving Cantor’s principle to “equinumerous collections are in 1–1 correspondence”. In this way we obtain a very nice arithmetic: in fact, our “numerosities” may be taken to be nonstandard integers. These numerosities appear naturally suited to sets of ordinals, but they depend, for generic sets, on a “labelling” of the universe by ordinals. The problem of finding a canonical way of attaching numerosities to all sets seems to be worth further investigation

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Marco Forti
University of Pisa

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