Some reasons to regard the cumulative hierarchy of sets as potential rather than actual are discussed. Motivated by this, a modal set theory is developed which encapsulates this potentialist conception. The resulting theory is equi-interpretable with Zermelo Fraenkel set theory but sheds new light on the set-theoretic paradoxes and the foundations of set theory.
Say that some things form a set just in case there is a set whose members are precisely the things in question. For instance, all the inhabitants of New York form a set. So do all the stars in the universe. And so do all the natural numbers. Under what conditions do some things form a set?
Are there objects that are “thin” in the sense that their existence does not make a substantial demand on the world? Frege famously thought so. He claimed that the equinumerosity of the knives and the forks suffices for there to be objects such as the number of knives and the number of forks, and for these objects to be identical. The idea of thin objects holds great philosophical promise but has proved hard to explicate. This book attempts to develop the (...) needed explanations by drawing on some Fregean ideas. First, to be an object is to be a possible referent of a singular term. Second, singular reference can be achieved by providing a criterion of identity for the would-be referent. The second idea enables a form of easy reference and thus, via the first idea, also a form of easy being. Paradox is avoided by imposing a predicativity restriction on the criteria of identity. But the abstraction based on a criterion of identity may result in an expanded domain. By iterating such expansions, a powerful account of dynamic abstraction is developed. (shrink)
Gödel claimed that Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory is 'what becomes of the theory of types if certain superfluous restrictions are removed'. The aim of this paper is to develop a clearer understanding of Gödel's remark, and of the surrounding philosophical terrain. In connection with this, we discuss some technical issues concerning infinitary type theories and the programme of developing the semantics for higher-order languages in other higher-order languages.
This paper has two goals. The ﬁrst goal is to show that the structuralists’ claims about dependence are more signiﬁcant to their view than is generally recognized. I argue that these dependence claims play an essential role in the most interesting and plausible characterization of this brand of structuralism. The second goal is to defend a compromise view concerning the dependence relations that obtain between mathematical objects. Two extreme views have tended to dominate the debate, namely the view that all (...) mathematical objects depend on the structures to which they belong and the view that none do. I present counterexamples to each of these extreme views. I defend instead a compromise view according to which the structuralists are right about many kinds of mathematical objects (roughly, the algebraic ones), whereas the anti-structuralists are right about others (in particular, the sets). I end with some remarks about how to understand the crucial notion of dependence, which despite being at the heart of the debate is rarely examined in any detail. (shrink)
Since Benacerraf’s “Mathematical Truth” a number of epistemological challenges have been launched against mathematical platonism. I first argue that these challenges fail because they unduely assimilate mathematics to empirical science. Then I develop an improved challenge which is immune to this criticism. Very roughly, what I demand is an account of how people’s mathematical beliefs are responsive to the truth of these beliefs. Finally I argue that if we employ a semantic truth-predicate rather than just a deflationary one, there surprisingly (...) turns out to be logical space for a response to the improved challenge where no such space appeared to exist. (shrink)
This paper criticizes George Boolos's famous use of plural quantification to argue that monadic second-order logic is pure logic. I deny that plural quantification qualifies as pure logic and express serious misgivings about its alleged ontological innocence. My argument is based on an examination of what is involved in our understanding of the impredicative plural comprehension schema.
If numbers were identified with any of their standard set-theoretic realizations, then they would have various non-arithmetical properties that mathematicians are reluctant to ascribe to them. Dedekind and later structuralists conclude that we should refrain from ascribing to numbers such ‘foreign’ properties. We first rehearse why it is hard to provide an acceptable formulation of this conclusion. Then we investigate some forms of abstraction meant to purge mathematical objects of all ‘foreign’ properties. One form is inspired by Frege; the other (...) by Dedekind. We argue that both face problems. (shrink)
Identity is ordinarily taken to be a relation defined on all and only objects. This consensus is challenged by Agustín Rayo, who seeks to develop an analogue of the identity sign that can be flanked by sentences. This paper is a critical exploration of the attempted generalization. First the desired generalization is clarified and analyzed. Then it is argued that there is no notion of content that does the desired philosophical job, namely ensure that necessarily equivalent sentences coincide in this (...) kind of content, and such pairs of sentences consequently are on a par with respect to metaphysical explanations. (shrink)
Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) is the metaphysical view that there are abstract mathematical objects whose existence is independent of us and our language, thought, and practices. In this survey article, the view is clarified and distinguished from some related views, and arguments for and against the view are discussed.
Questions about the relation between identity and discernibility are important both in philosophy and in model theory. We show how a philosophical question about identity and dis- cernibility can be ‘factorized’ into a philosophical question about the adequacy of a formal language to the description of the world, and a mathematical question about discernibility in this language. We provide formal definitions of various notions of discernibility and offer a complete classification of their logical relations. Some new and surprising facts are (...) proved; for instance, that weak dis- cernibility corresponds to discernibility in a language with constants for every object, and that weak discernibility is the most discerning nontrivial discernibility relation. (shrink)
where ‘aa’ is a plural term, and ‘F’ a plural predicate. Following George Boolos (1984) and others, many philosophers and logicians also think that plural expressions should be analysed as not introducing any new ontological commitments to some sort of ‘plural entities’, but rather as involving a new form of reference to objects to which we are already committed (for an overview and further details, see Linnebo 2004). For instance, the plural term ‘aa’ refers to Alice, Bob and Charlie simultaneously, (...) and the plural predicate ‘F’ is true of some things just in case these things cooperate. A natural question that arises is whether the step from the singular to the plural can be iterated. Are there terms that stand to ordinary plural terms the way ordinary plural terms stand to singular terms? Let’s call such terms superplural. A superplural term would thus, loosely speaking, refer to several ‘pluralities’ at once, much as an ordinary plural term refers to several objects at once.1 Further, let’s call a predicate superplural if it can be predicated of superplural terms. It is reasonably straightforward to devise a formal logic of superplural terms, superplural predicates, and even superplural quantifiers (see Rayo 2006). But does this formal logic reflect any features of natural languages? In particular, does ordinary English contain superplural terms and predicates? The purpose of this article is to address these questions. We examine some earlier arguments for the existence of superplural expressions in English and find them to be either.. (shrink)
Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) isthe metaphysical view that there are abstract mathematical objectswhose existence is independent of us and our language, thought, andpractices. Just as electrons and planets exist independently of us, sodo numbers and sets. And just as statements about electrons and planetsare made true or false by the objects with which they are concerned andthese objects' perfectly objective properties, so are statements aboutnumbers and sets. Mathematical truths are therefore discovered, notinvented., Existence. There are mathematical objects.
Frege suggests that criteria of identity should play a central role in the explanation of reference, especially to abstract objects. This paper develops a precise model of how we can come to refer to a particular kind of abstract object, namely, abstract letter types. It is argued that the resulting abstract referents are ‘metaphysically lightweight’.
It is widely thought that the acceptability of an abstraction principle is a feature of the cardinalities at which it is satisfiable. This view is called into question by a recent observation by Richard Heck. We show that a fix proposed by Heck fails but we analyze the interesting idea on which it is based, namely that an acceptable abstraction has to “generate” the objects that it requires. We also correct and complete the classification of proposed criteria for acceptable abstraction.
Does category theory provide a foundation for mathematics that is autonomous with respect to the orthodox foundation in a set theory such as ZFC? We distinguish three types of autonomy: logical, conceptual, and justificatory. Focusing on a categorical theory of sets, we argue that a strong case can be made for its logical and conceptual autonomy. Its justificatory autonomy turns on whether the objects of a foundation for mathematics should be specified only up to isomorphism, as is customary in other (...) branches of contemporary mathematics. If such a specification suffices, then a category-theoretical approach will be highly appropriate. But if sets have a richer `nature' than is preserved under isomorphism, then such an approach will be inadequate. (shrink)
Frege Arithmetic (FA) is the second-order theory whose sole non-logical axiom is Hume’s Principle, which says that the number of F s is identical to the number of Gs if and only if the F s and the Gs can be one-to-one correlated. According to Frege’s Theorem, FA and some natural deﬁnitions imply all of second-order Peano Arithmetic. This paper distinguishes two dimensions of impredicativity involved in FA—one having to do with Hume’s Principle, the other, with the underlying second-order logic—and (...) investigates how much of Frege’s Theorem goes through in various partially predicative fragments of FA. Theorem 1 shows that almost everything goes through, the most important exception being the axiom that every natural number has a successor. Theorem 2 shows that the Successor Axiom cannot be proved in the theories that are predicative in either dimension. (shrink)
Plural logic is widely assumed to have two important virtues: ontological innocence and determinacy. It is claimed to be innocent in the sense that it incurs no ontological commitments beyond those already incurred by the first-order quantifiers. It is claimed to be determinate in the sense that it is immune to the threat of non-standard interpretations that confronts higher-order logics on their more traditional, set-based semantics. We challenge both claims. Our challenge is based on a Henkin-style semantics for plural logic (...) that does not resort to sets or set-like objects to interpret plural variables, but adopts the view that a plural variable has many objects as its values. Using this semantics, we also articulate a generalized notion of ontological commitment which enables us to develop some ideas of earlier critics of the alleged ontological innocence of plural logic. (shrink)
The neo-Fregean project of basing mathematics on abstraction principles faces “the bad company problem,” namely that a great variety of unacceptable abstraction principles are mixed in among the acceptable ones. In this paper I propose a new solution to the problem, based on the idea that individuation must take the form of a well-founded process. A surprising aspect of this solution is that every form of abstraction on concepts is permissible and that paradox is instead avoided by restricting what concepts (...) there are. (shrink)
Consider one of several things. Is the one thing necessarily one of the several? This key question in the modal logic of plurals is clarified. Some defenses of an affirmative answer are developed and compared. Various remarks are made about the broader philosophical significance of the question.
Mathematics is one of the most successful human endeavors—a paradigm of precision and objectivity. It is also one of our most puzzling endeavors, as it seems to deliver non-experiential knowledge of a non-physical reality consisting of numbers, sets, and functions. How can the success and objectivity of mathematics be reconciled with its puzzling features, which seem to set it apart from all the usual empirical sciences? This book offers a short but systematic introduction to the philosophy of mathematics. Readers are (...) introduced to all of the classical approaches to the field, including logicism, formalism, intuitionism, empiricism, and structuralism. The book also contains accessible introductions to some more specialized issues, such as mathematical intuition, potential infinity, the iterative conception of sets, and the search for new mathematical axioms. The exposition is always closely informed by ongoing research in the field and sometimes draws on the author’s own contributions to this research. This means that Gottlob Frege—a German mathematician and philosopher widely recognized as one of the founders of analytic philosophy—figures prominently in the book, both through his own views and his criticism of other thinkers. (shrink)
Call a quantifier unrestricted if it ranges over absolutely all things: not just over all physical things or all things relevant to some particular utterance or discourse but over absolutely everything there is. Prima facie, unrestricted quantification seems to be perfectly coherent. For such quantification appears to be involved in a variety of claims that all normal human beings are capable of understanding. For instance, some basic logical and mathematical truths appear to involve unrestricted quantification, such as the truth that (...) absolutely everything is self-identical and the truth that the empty set has absolutely no members. Various metaphysical views too appear to involve unrestricted quantification, such as the physicalist view that absolutely everything is physical. (shrink)
The notion of potential infinity dominated in mathematical thinking about infinity from Aristotle until Cantor. The coherence and philosophical importance of the notion are defended. Particular attention is paid to the question of whether potential infinity is compatible with classical logic or requires a weaker logic, perhaps intuitionistic.
Can there be objects that are ‘thin’ in the sense that very little is required for their existence? A number of philosophers have thought so. For instance, many Fregeans believe it suffices for the existence of directions that there be lines standing in the relation of parallelism; other philosophers believe it suffices for a mathematical theory to have a model that the theory be coherent. This article explains the appeal of thin objects, discusses the three most important strategies for articulating (...) and defending the idea of such objects, and outlines some problems that these strategies face. (shrink)
Which abstraction principles are acceptable? A variety of criteria have been proposed, in particular irenicity, stability, conservativeness, and unboundedness. This note charts their logical relations. This answers some open questions and corrects some old answers.
Thirteen up-and-coming researchers in the philosophy of mathematics have been invited to write on what they take to be the right philosophical account of mathematics, examining along the way where they think the philosophy of mathematics is and ought to be going. A rich and diverse picture emerges. Some broader tendencies can nevertheless be detected: there is increasing attention to the practice, language and psychology of mathematics, a move to reassess the orthodoxy, as well as inspiration from philosophical logic.
In previous work, Hellman and Shapiro present a regions-based account of a one-dimensional continuum. This paper produces a more Aristotelian theory, eschewing the existence of points and the use of infinite sets or pluralities. We first show how to modify the original theory. There are a number of theorems that have to be added as axioms. Building on some work by Linnebo, we then show how to take the ‘potential’ nature of the usual operations seriously, by using a modal language, (...) and we show that the two approaches are equivalent. (shrink)
Quantum mechanics tells us that states involving indistinguishable fermions must be antisymmetrized. This is often taken to mean that indistinguishable fermions are always entangled. We consider several notions of entanglement and argue that on the best of them, indistinguishable fermions are not always entangled. We also present a simple but unconventional way of representing fermionic states that allows us to maintain a link between entanglement and non-factorizability.
Neo-Fregean logicism attempts to base mathematics on abstraction principles. Since not all abstraction principles are acceptable, the neo-Fregeans need an account of which ones are. One of the most promising accounts is in terms of the notion of stability; roughly, that an abstraction principle is acceptable just in case it is satisfiable in all domains of sufficiently large cardinality. We present two counterexamples to stability as a sufficient condition for acceptability and argue that these counterexamples can be avoided only by (...) major departures from the existing neo-Fregean programme. (shrink)
I present a novel interpretation of Frege’s attempt at Grundgesetze I §§29-31 to prove that every expression of his language has a unique reference. I argue that Frege’s proof is based on a contextual account of reference, similar to but more sophisticated than that enshrined in his famous Context Principle. Although Frege’s proof is incorrect, I argue that the account of reference on which it is based is of potential philosophical value, and I analyze the class of cases to which (...) it may successfully be applied. (shrink)
It is sometimes suggested that criteria of identity should play a central role in an account of our most fundamental ways of referring to objects. The view is nicely illustrated by an example due to (Quine, 1950). Suppose you are standing at the bank of a river, watching the water that floats by. What is required for you to refer to the river, as opposed to a particular segment of it, or the totality of its water, or the current temporal (...) part of this water? According to Quine, you must at least implicitly be operating with some criterion of identity that informs you when two sightings of water count as sightings of the same referent. For unless you have at least an implicit grasp of what is required for your intended referent to be identical with another object with which you are presented, you have not succeeded in singling out a unique object for reference. (shrink)
I shall make two main claims. My first main claim is that Frege started out with a view of logic that is closer to Kant’s than is generally recognized, but that he gradually came to reject this Kantian view, or at least totally to transform it. My second main claim concerns Frege’s reasons for distancing himself from the Kantian conception of logic. It is natural to speculate that this change in Frege’s view of logic may have been spurred by a (...) desire to establish the logicality of the axiom system he needed for his logicist reduction, including the infamous Basic Law V. I admit this may have been one of Frege’s motives. But I shall argue that Frege also had a deeper and more interesting reason to reject his early Kantian view of logic, having to do with his increasingly vehement anti-psychologism. (shrink)
On the face of it, platonism seems very far removed from the scientific world view that dominates our age. Nevertheless many philosophers and mathematicians believe that modern mathematics requires some form of platonism. The defense of mathematical platonism that is both most direct and has been most influential in the analytic tradition in philosophy derives from the German logician-philosopher Gottlob Frege (1848-1925).2 I will therefore refer to it as Frege’s argument. This argument is part of the background of any contemporary (...) discussion of mathematical platonism. (shrink)
Kripke’s notion of groundedness plays a central role in many responses to the semantic paradoxes. Can the notion of groundedness be brought to bear on the paradoxes that arise in connection with abstraction principles? We explore a version of grounded abstraction whereby term models are built up in a ‘grounded’ manner. The results are mixed. Our method solves a problem concerning circularity and yields a ‘grounded’ model for the predicative theory based on Frege’s Basic Law V. However, the method is (...) poorly behaved unless the background second-order logic is predicative. (shrink)
John Burgess in a 2004 paper combined plural logic and a new version of the idea of limitation of size to give an elegant motivation of the axioms of ZFC set theory. His proposal is meant to improve on earlier work by Paul Bernays in two ways. I argue that both attempted improvements fail. I am grateful to Philip Welch, two anonymous referees, and especially Ignacio Jané for written comments on earlier versions of this paper, which have led to substantial (...) improvements. Thanks also to the participants in a discussion group at the University of Bristol, where an earlier version was presented. (shrink)
Florio and Shapiro take issue with an argument in ‘Hierarchies Ontological and Ideological’ for the conclusion that the set-theoretic hierarchy is open-ended. Here we clarify and reinforce the argument in light of their concerns.
Frege proposed that his Context Principle—which says that a word has meaning only in the context of a proposition—can be used to explain reference, both in general and to mathematical objects in particular. I develop a version of this proposal and outline answers to some important challenges that the resulting account of reference faces. Then I show how this account can be applied to arithmetic to yield an explanation of our reference to the natural numbers and of their metaphysical status.
Dummett’s notion of indefinite extensibility is influential but obscure. The notion figures centrally in an alternative Dummettian argument for intuitionistic logic and anti-realism, distinct from his more famous, meaning-theoretic arguments to the same effect. Drawing on ideas from Dummett, a precise analysis of indefinite extensibility is proposed. This analysis is used to reconstruct the poorly understood alternative argument. The plausibility of the resulting argument is assessed.
Kit Fine has since the 1970s been one of the leading contributors to work at the intersection of logic and metaphysics. This is his eagerly-awaited first book in the area. It draws together a series of essays, three of them previously unpublished, on possibility, necessity, and tense. These puzzling aspects of the way the world is have been the focus of considerable philosophical attention in recent decades. A helpful introduction orients the reader and offers a way into some of the (...) most original work in contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
I defend the view that our ontology divides into categories, each with its own canonical way of identifying and distinguishing the objects it encompasses. For instance, I argue that natural numbers are identified and distinguished by their positions in the number sequence, and physical bodies, by facts having to do with spatiotemporal continuity. I also argue that objects belonging to different categories are ipso facto distinct. My arguments are based on an analysis of reference, which ascribes to reference a richer (...) structure than it is normally taken to have. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAccording to a famous argument by Dummett, the concept of set is indefinitely extensible, and the logic appropriate for reasoning about the instances of any such concept is intuitionistic, not classical. But Dummett's argument is widely regarded as obscure. This note explains how the final chapter of Rumfitt's important new book advances our understanding of Dummett's argument, but it also points out some problems and unanswered questions. Finally, Rumfitt's reconstruction of Dummett's argument is contrasted with my own preferred alternative.
This chapter provides an overview of the philosophical and linguistic debate about the logic of plurals. We present the most prominent singularizing analyses of plurals as well as the main criticisms that such analyses have received. We then introduce an alternative approach to plurals known as plural logic, focusing on the question whether plural logic can count as pure logic.