Coffa's Kant and the evolution of accounts of mathematical necessity

Synthese 172 (3):361 - 379 (2010)
According to Alberto Coffa in The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap, Kant’s account of mathematical judgment is built on a ‘semantic swamp’. Kant’s primitive semantics led him to appeal to pure intuition in an attempt to explain mathematical necessity. The appeal to pure intuition was, on Coffa’s line, a blunder from which philosophy was forced to spend the next 150 years trying to recover. This dismal assessment of Kant’s contributions to the evolution of accounts of mathematical necessity is fundamentally backward-looking. Coffa’s account of how semantic theories of the a priori evolved out of Kant’s doctrine of pure intuition rightly emphasizes those developments, both scientific and philosophical, that collectively served to undermine the plausibility of Kant’s account. What is missing from Coffa’s story, apart from any recognition of Kant’s semantic innovations, is an attempt to appreciate Kant’s philosophical context and the distinctive perspective from which Kant viewed issues in the philosophy of mathematics. When Kant’s perspective and context are brought out, he can not only be seen to have made a genuinely progressive contribution to the development of accounts of mathematical necessity, but also to be relevant to contemporary issues in the philosophy of mathematics in underappreciated ways.
Keywords Kant  Alberto Coffa  Intuition  Necessity  Mathematics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-008-9397-4
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,511
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Kant's Transcendental Idealism.Henry E. Allison - 2004 - Yale University Press.
Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Journal of Philosophy. New York: Blackwell. pp. 507-508.
Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
Kant and the Exact Sciences.Michael Friedman - 1992 - Harvard University Press.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index

Total downloads
93 ( #56,641 of 2,180,712 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #154,749 of 2,180,712 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums