In Erich Reck (ed.), Logic, Philosophy of Mathematics, and their History: Essays in Honor W.W. Tait. College Publications (2018)

Wilfried Sieg
Carnegie Mellon University
Rebecca Morris
Independent Scholar
Dedekind’s structuralism is a crucial source for the structuralism of mathematical practice—with its focus on abstract concepts like groups and fields. It plays an equally central role for the structuralism of philosophical analysis—with its focus on particular mathematical objects like natural and real numbers. Tensions between these structuralisms are palpable in Dedekind’s work, but are resolved in his essay Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen? In a radical shift, Dedekind extends his mathematical approach to “the” natural numbers. He creates the abstract concept of a simply infinite system, proves the existence of a “model”, insists on the stepwise derivation of theorems, and defines structure-preserving mappings between different systems that fall under the abstract concept. Crucial parts of these considerations were added, however, only to the penultimate manuscript, for example, the very concept of a simply infinite system. The methodological consequences of this radical shift are elucidated by an analysis of Dedekind’s metamathematics. Our analysis provides a deeper understanding of the essay and, in addition, illuminates its impact on the evolution of the axiomatic method and of “semantics” before Tarski. This understanding allows us to make connections to contemporary issues in the philosophy of mathematics and science.
Keywords philosophy of mathematics  history of mathematics
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References found in this work BETA

Gödel's Conceptual Realism.Donald A. Martin - 2005 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 11 (2):207-224.

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Pasch's Empiricism as Methodological Structuralism.Dirk Schlimm - 2020 - In Erich Reck & Georg Schiemer (eds.), The Pre-History of Mathematical Structuralism. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 80-105.

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