Charles Parsons examines the notion of object, with the aim to navigate between nominalism, denying that distinctively mathematical objects exist, and forms of Platonism that postulate a transcendent realm of such objects. He introduces the central mathematical notion of structure and defends a version of the structuralist view of mathematical objects, according to which their existence is relative to a structure and they have no more of a 'nature' than that confers on them. Parsons also analyzes the concept of intuition (...) and presents a conception of it distantly inspired by that of Kant, which describes a basic kind of access to abstract objects and an element of a first conception of the infinite. (shrink)
I consider different versions of a structuralist view of mathematical objects, according to which characteristic mathematical objects have no more of a 'nature' than is given by the basic relations of a structure in which they reside. My own version of such a view is non-eliminative in the sense that it does not lead to a programme for eliminating reference to mathematical objects. I reply to criticisms of non-eliminative structuralism recently advanced by Keränen and Hellman. In replying to the former, (...) I rely on a distinction between 'basic' and 'constructed' structures. A conclusion is that ideas from the metaphysical tradition can be misleading when applied to the objects of modern mathematics. (shrink)
Kurt Gödel made many affirmations of robust realism but also showed serious engagement with the idealist tradition, especially with Leibniz, Kant, and Husserl. The root of this apparently paradoxical attitude is his conviction of the power of reason. The paper explores the question of how Gödel read Kant. His argument that relativity theory supports the idea of the ideality of time is discussed critically, in particular attempting to explain the assertion that science can go beyond the appearances and ‘approach the (...) things’. Leibniz and post-Kantian idealism are discussed more briefly, the latter as documented in the correspondence with Gotthard Günther. (shrink)
The paper undertakes to characterize Hao Wang's style, convictions, and method as a philosopher, centering on his most important philosophical work From Mathematics to Philosophy, 1974. The descriptive character of Wang's characteristic method is emphasized. Some specific achievements are discussed: his analyses of the concept of set, his discussion, in connection with setting forth Gödel's views, of minds and machines, and his concept of ‘analytic empiricism’ used to criticize Carnap and Quine. Wang's work as interpreter of Gödel's thought and the (...) importance of his writings as a source are also discussed. (shrink)
The paper explores the view that in mathematics, in particular where the infinite is involved, the application of classical logic to statements involving the infinite cannot be taken for granted. L. E. J. Brouwer’s well-known rejection of classical logic is sketched, and the views of David Hilbert and especially Hermann Weyl, both of whom used classical logic in their mathematical practice, are explored. We inquire whether arguments for a critical view can be found that are independent of constructivist premises and (...) consider the entanglement of logic and mathematics. This offers a convincing case regarding second-order logic, but for first-order logic, it is not so clear. Still, we ask whether we understand the application of logic to the higher infinite better than we understand the higher infinite itself. (shrink)
In this paper some of the history of the development of arithmetic in set theory is traced, particularly with reference to the problem of avoiding the assumption of an infinite set. Although the standard method of singling out a sequence of sets to be the natural numbers goes back to Zermelo, its development was more tortuous than is generally believed. We consider the development in the light of three desiderata for a solution and argue that they can probably not all (...) be satisfied simultaneously. (shrink)
A listing is given of the published writings of the logician and philosopher Hao Wang , which includes all items known to the authors, including writings in Chinese and translations into other languages.
The paper comments on Dummett's Significance of Quine's Indeterminacy Thesis and discusses Quine's views on the translation of logical connectives. Some difficulties about the latter related to those raised by Morton (J. Phil. 70 (1973), 503–510) are considered. Quine seems here to be in a position considered by Dummett of not allowing a foreigner to be translated as conflicting with one's own firm theoretical commitment (in this case classical logic). But Dummett seems wrong in holding that entrenched theoretical statements must (...) be stimulus analytic. (shrink)
The central project of the Critique of Pure Reason is to answer two sets of questions: What can we know and how can we know it? and What can't we know and why can't we know it? The essays in this collection are intended to help students read the Critique of Pure Reason with a greater understanding of its central themes and arguments, and with some awareness of important lines of criticism of those themes and arguments.
It is a well-known fact of mathematical logic, by now developed in considerable detail, that formalized mathematical theories can be ordered by relative interpretability, and the "strength" of a theory is indicated by where it stands in this ordering. Mutual interpretability is an equivalence relation, and what I call an ordering is a partial ordering modulo this equivalence. Of the theories that have been studied, the natural theories belong to a linearly ordered subset of this ordering.