A philosophical introduction to the foundations of elementary arithmetic

Abstract

As it is currently used, "foundations of arithmetic" can be a misleading expression. It is not always, as the name might indicate, being used as a plural term meaning X = {x : x is a foundation of arithmetic}. Instead it has come to stand for a philosophico-logical domain of knowledge, concerned with axiom systems, structures, and analyses of arithmetic concepts. It is a bit as if "rock" had come to mean "geology." The conflation of subject matter and its study is a serious one, because in the end, one can lose sight of what one should be doing in the first place. Perhaps it is taking matters too literally, but it seems that there is something to be said for taking the term to represent X. Doing so and accepting the term to have some kind of significance, it is then natural to focus on the question of what a foundation of arithmetic should be; and, if one exists, what one is. Whatever the case, that is what shall be done in this paper.

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