Dummett's intuitionism is not strict finitism

Synthese 90 (3):437 - 458 (1992)
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Michael Dummett's anti-realism is founded on the semantics of natural language which, he argues, can only be satisfactorily given in mathematics by intuitionism. It has been objected that an analog of Dummett's argument will collapse intuitionism into strict finitism. My purpose in this paper is to refute this objection, which I argue Dummett does not successfully do. I link the coherence of strict finitism to a view of confirmation — that our actual practical abilities cannot confirm we know what would happen if we could compute impracticably vast problems. But to state his case, the strict finitists have to suppose that we grasp the truth conditions of sentences we can't actually decide. This comprehension must be practically demonstrable, or the analogy with Dummett's argument fails. So, our actual abilities must be capable of confirming that we know what would be the case if actually undecidable sentences were true, contradicting the view of confirmation. I end by considering objections.



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Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Truth and other enigmas.Michael Dummett - 1978 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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