Philosophia Mathematica 15 (1):132-134 (2007)

In his book Gabriele Lolli discusses the notion of proof, which is, according to him, the most important and at the same time the least studied aspect of mathematics. According to Lolli, a theorem is a conditional sentence of the form ‘if T then A’ such that A is a logical consequence of T, where A is a sentence and T is a sentence or a conjunction or set of sentences. Verifying that A is a consequence of T generally involves considering infinitely many interpretations; so it is something which is impossible to do in finite terms. Proofs may serve as ‘shortcuts’ in this respect. A proof is defined by Lolli as any finite argument certifying that A is a consequence of T. A proof is a shortcut in the sense that it spares us considering infinitely many interpretations.The reason for such a very general definition of proof is Lolli's strong belief that mathematics is not a rigid system of explicit rules, but rather a set of tools; as a consequence, there is no prescription as to what a proof should or should not be. Actually, mathematics is historically situated and not timeless, and the history of mathematics is the …
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DOI 10.1093/philmat/nkl016
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