La matematica viene generalmente considerata uno degli ambiti più affidabili dell’intera impresa scientifica. Il suo successo e la sua solidità sono testimoniati, ad esempio, dall’uso imprescindibile che ne fanno le scienze empiriche e dall’accordo pressoché unanime con cui la comunità dei matematici delibera sulla validità di un nuovo risultato. Tuttavia, dal punto di vista filosofico la matematica rappresenta un puzzle tanto intrigante quanto intricato. Philosophy of Mathematics di Ø. Linnebo si propone di presentare e discutere le concezioni filosofiche della (...) matematica che hanno dominato la scena da Frege ai giorni nostri. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn reply to Linnebo, I defend my analysis of Tait's argument against the use of classical logic in set theory, and make some preliminary comments on Linnebo's new argument for the same conclusion. I then turn to Shapiro's discussion of intuitionistic analysis and of Smooth Infinitesimal Analysis. I contend that we can make sense of intuitionistic analysis, but only by attaching deviant meanings to the connectives. Whether anyone can make sense of SIA is open to doubt: doing so (...) would involve making sense of mathematical quantities whose relationship to zero and to one another is inherently indeterminate. (shrink)
1. OverviewSeveral natural languages such as English contain prima facie different kinds of referential and quantificational expressions. In particular, natural languages can contain singular forms of reference and quantification, as in, e.g., ‘Cecilia is Italian’ and ‘There is a basket of apples on the counter’. But they can contain also plural forms of reference and quantification, as in, e.g., ‘Cecilia and Francesca met in Cathedral Square’ and ‘There are some apples on the counter’. Famously, some sentences in natural language containing (...) plural expressions cannot be formalized in first-order logic, as, e.g. the so-called Geach-Kaplan sentence: This kind of sentence requires at least the expressive power of second-order logic for its logical form to be captured appropriately.The very notions of plural reference and plural quantification are not new in the philosophical landscape.1 But it was from the mid-80s on, starting with the seminal work in [Boolos, 1998a; b], that so-called plural logic gained the attention of the community of logicians, philosophers in general, and philosophers of mathematics in particular.2 Ever since, more and more literature has been produced on it in several areas, e.g., logic and its philosophy, philosophical logic, and philosophy of mathematics, as well as philosophy of language, semantics, and linguistics.3. (shrink)
Neo-Fregean logicism seeks to base mathematics on abstraction principles. But the acceptable abstraction principles are surrounded by unacceptable ones. This is the "bad company problem." In this introduction I first provide a brief historical overview of the problem. Then I outline the main responses that are currently being debated. In the course of doing so I provide summaries of the contributions to this special issue.
Using Riemann’s Rearrangement Theorem, Øystein Linnebo (2020) argues that, if it were possible to apply an infinite positive weight and an infinite negative weight to a working scale, the resulting net weight could end up being any real number, depending on the procedure by which these weights are applied. Appealing to the First Postulate of Archimedes’ treatise on balance, I argue instead that the scale would always read 0 kg. Along the way, we stop to consider an infinitely jittery (...) flea, an infinitely protracted border conflict, and an infinitely electric glass rod. (shrink)
We analyze the precise modal commitments of several natural varieties of set-theoretic potentialism, using tools we develop for a general model-theoretic account of potentialism, building on those of Hamkins, Leibman and Löwe , including the use of buttons, switches, dials and ratchets. Among the potentialist conceptions we consider are: rank potentialism, Grothendieck–Zermelo potentialism, transitive-set potentialism, forcing potentialism, countable-transitive-model potentialism, countable-model potentialism, and others. In each case, we identify lower bounds for the modal validities, which are generally either S4.2 or S4.3, (...) and an upper bound of S5, proving in each case that these bounds are optimal. The validity of S5 in a world is a potentialist maximality principle, an interesting set-theoretic principle of its own. The results can be viewed as providing an analysis of the modal commitments of the various set-theoretic multiverse conceptions corresponding to each potentialist account. (shrink)
Plural expressions found in natural languages allow us to talk about many objects simultaneously. Plural logic — a logical system that takes plurals at face value — has seen a surge of interest in recent years. This book explores its broader significance for philosophy, logic, and linguistics. What can plural logic do for us? Are the bold claims made on its behalf correct? After introducing plural logic and its main applications, the book provides a systematic analysis of the relation between (...) this logic and other theoretical frameworks such as set theory, mereology, higher-order logic, and modal logic. The applications of plural logic rely on two assumptions, namely that this logic is ontologically innocent and has great expressive power. These assumptions are shown to be problematic. The result is a more nuanced picture of plural logic's applications than has been given thus far. Questions about the correct logic of plurals play a central role in the final chapters, where traditional plural logic is rejected in favor of a "critical" alternative. The most striking feature of this alternative is that there is no universal plurality. This leads to a novel approach to the relation between the many and the one. In particular, critical plural logic paves the way for an account of sets capable of solving the set-theoretic paradoxes. (shrink)
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)
According to Weyl, “‘inexhaustibility’ is essential to the infinite”. However, he distinguishes two kinds of inexhaustible, or merely potential, domains: those that are “extensionally determinate” and those that are not. This article clarifies Weyl's distinction and explains its enduring logical and philosophical significance. The distinction sheds lights on the contemporary debate about potentialism, which in turn affords a deeper understanding of Weyl.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
Modal logic has been used to analyze potential infinity and potentialism more generally. However, the standard analysis breaks down in cases of divergent possibilities, where there are two or more possibilities that can be individually realized but which are jointly incompatible. This paper has three aims. First, using the intuitionistic theory of choice sequences, we motivate the need for a modal analysis of divergent potentialism and explain the challenges this involves. Then, using Beth–Kripke semantics for intuitionistic logic, we overcome those (...) challenges. Finally, we apply our modal analysis of divergent potentialism to make choice sequences comprehensible in classical terms. (shrink)
What is the relation between some things and the set of these things? Mathematical practice does not provide a univocal answer. On the one hand, it relies on ordinary plural talk, which is implicitly committed to a traditional form of plural logic. On the other hand, mathematical practice favors a liberal view of definitions which entails that traditional plural logic must be restricted. We explore this predicament and develop a “critical” alternative to traditional plural logic.
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)
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?
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.
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)
What explains the truth of a universal generalization? Two types of explanation can be distinguished. While an ‘instance-based explanation’ proceeds via some or all instances of the generalization, a ‘generic explanation’ is independent of the instances, relying instead on completely general facts about the properties or operations involved in the generalization. This intuitive distinction is analyzed by means of a truthmaker semantics, which also sheds light on the correct logic of quantification. On the most natural version of the semantics, this (...) analysis vindicates some claims made—without a proper defense—by Michael Dummett, Solomon Feferman, and others. Where instance-based explanations are freely available, classical logic is shown to be warranted. By contrast, intuitionistic logic remains warranted regardless of what explanations are available. (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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
In the literature, predicativism is connected not only with the Vicious Circle Principle but also with the idea that certain totalities are inherently potential. To explain the connection between these two aspects of predicativism, we explore some approaches to predicativity within the modal framework for potentiality developed in Linnebo (2013) and Linnebo and Shapiro (2019). This puts predicativism into a more general framework and helps to sharpen some of its key theses.
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’.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.