Which Arithmetization for Which Logicism? Russell on Relations and Quantities in The Principles of Mathematics

History and Philosophy of Logic 29 (1):1-30 (2008)
This article aims first at showing that Russell's general doctrine according to which all mathematics is deducible 'by logical principles from logical principles' does not require a preliminary reduction of all mathematics to arithmetic. In the Principles, mechanics (part VII), geometry (part VI), analysis (part IV-V) and magnitude theory (part III) are to be all directly derived from the theory of relations, without being first reduced to arithmetic (part II). The epistemological importance of this point cannot be overestimated: Russell's logicism does not only contain the claim that mathematics is no more than logic, it also contains the claim that the differences between the various mathematical sciences can be logically justified?and thus, that, contrary to the arithmetization stance, analysis, geometry and mechanics are not merely outgrowths of arithmetic. The second aim of this article is to set out the neglected Russellian theory of quantity. The topic is obviously linked with the first, since the mere existence of a doctrine of magnitude, in a work dated from 1903, is a sign of a distrust vis-à-vis the arithmetization programme. After having shown that, despite the works of Cantor, Dedekind and Weierstrass, many mathematicians at the end of the 19th Century elaborated various axiomatic theories of the magnitude, I will try to define the peculiarity of the Russellian approach. I will lay stress on the continuity of the logicist's thought on this point: Whitehead, in the Principia, deepens and generalizes the first Russellian 1903 theory.
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DOI 10.1080/01445340701398530
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