Call an argument a ‘happy sorites’ if it is a sorites argument with true premises and a false conclusion. It is a striking fact that although most philosophers working on the sorites paradox find it at prima facie highly compelling that the premises of the sorites paradox are true and its conclusion false, few (if any) of the standard theories on the issue ultimately allow for happy sorites arguments. There is one philosophical view, however, that appears to allow for at (...) least some happy sorites arguments: strict finitism in the philosophy of mathematics. My aim in this paper is to explore to what extent this appearance is accurate. As we shall see, this question is far from trivial. In particular, I will discuss two arguments that threaten to show that strict finitism cannot consistently accept happy sorites arguments, but I will argue that (given reasonable assumptions on strict finitistic logic) these arguments can ultimately be avoided, and the view can indeed allow for happy sorites arguments. (shrink)
At the most general level, the concept of finitism is typically characterized by saying that finitistic mathematics is that part of mathematics which does not appeal to completed infinite totalities and is endowed with some epistemological property that makes it secure or privileged. This paper argues that this characterization can in fact be sharpened in various ways, giving rise to different conceptions of finitism. The paper investigates these conceptions and shows that they sanction different portions of mathematics as (...) finitistic. (shrink)
This article develops a critical investigation of the epistemological core of Hilbert's foundational project, the so-called the finitary attitude. The investigation proceeds by distinguishing different senses of 'number' and 'finitude' that have been used in the philosophical arguments. The usual notion of modern pure mathematics, i.e. the sense of number which is implicit in the notion of an arbitrary finite sequence and iteration is one sense of number and finitude. Another sense, of older origin, is connected with practices of counting (...) concrete things, and a third sense is linked up with the immediate intuitive experience of multitudes of concrete things. Hilbert's fìnitism is examined with respect to these differences, and it will be shown that there is a tendency to conflate the different senses of number and fìnitude, a tendency which has been a source of problems in the discussion of the foundations of mathematics and in the philosophy of logic and language. (shrink)
I consider here several versions of finitism or conceptions that try to work around postulating sets of infinite size. Restricting oneself to the so-called potential infinite seems to rest either on temporal readings of infinity (or infinite series) or on anti-realistic background assumptions. Both these motivations may be considered problematic. Quine’s virtual set theory points out where strong assumptions of infinity enter into number theory, but is implicitly committed to infinity anyway. The approaches centring on the indefinitely large and (...) the use of schemata would provide a work-around to circumvent usage of actual infinities if we had a clear understanding of how schemata work and where to draw the conceptual line between the indefinitely large and the infinite. Neither of this seems to be clear enough. Versions of strict finitism in contrast provide a clear picture of a (realistic) finite number theory. One can recapture standard arithmetic without being committed to actual infinities. The major problem of them is their usage of a paraconsistent logic with an accompanying theory of inconsistent objects. If we are, however, already using a paraconsistent approach for other reasons (in semantics, epistemology or set theory), we get finitism for free. This strengthens the case for paraconsistency. (shrink)
This paper sets out to adduce visual evidence for Kroneckerian finitism by making perspicuous some of the insights that buttress Kronecker’s conception of arithmetization as a process aiming at disclosing the arithmetical essence enshrined in analytical formulas, by spotting discrete patterns through algorithmic fine-tuning. In the light of a fairly tractable case study, it is argued that Kronecker’s main tenet in philosophy of mathematics is not so much an ontological as a methodological one, inasmuch as highly demanding requirements regarding (...) mathematical understanding prevail over mere preemptive reductionism to whole numbers. (shrink)
It is widely known that Aristotle rules out the existence of actual infinities but allows for potential infinities. However, precisely why Aristotle should deny the existence of actual infinities remains somewhat obscure and has received relatively little attention in the secondary literature. In this paper I investigate the motivations of Aristotle’s finitism and offer a careful examination of some of the arguments considered by Aristotle both in favour of and against the existence of actual infinities. I argue that Aristotle (...) has good reason to resist the traditional arguments offered in favour of the existence of the infinite and that, while there is a lacuna in his own ‘logical’ arguments against actual infinities, his arguments against the existence of infinite magnitude and number are valid and more well grounded than commonly supposed. (shrink)
In his paper "Finitism", W.W. Tait maintains that the chief difficulty for everyone who wishes to understand Hilbert's conception of finitist mathematics is this: to specify the sense of the provability of general statements about the natural numbers without presupposing infinite totalities. Tait further argues that all finitist reasoning is essentially primitive recursive. In this paper, we attempt to show that his thesis "The finitist functions are precisely the primitive recursive functions" is disputable and that another, likewise defended by (...) him, is untenable. The second thesis is that the finitist theorems are precisely the universal closures of the equations that can be proved in PRA. /// En su articulo "Finitism", W.W. Tait sostiene que la dificultad principal para quien quiere comprender la concepción hilbertiana de la matemática finitista es ésta: especificar el sentido de la demostrabilidad de enunciados generales sobre los números naturales sin presuponer totalidades infinitas. Además, Tait argumenta que todo razonamiento finitista es esencialmente primitivo recursivo. En este artículo tratamos de mostrar que su tesis "Las funciones finitistas son precisamente las funciones primitivas recursivas" es discutible y que otra, también defendida por él, resulta insostenible. La segunda tesis es que los teoremas finitistas son precisamente las clausuras universales de las ecuaciones que pueden demostrarse en PRA. (shrink)
More than half of Wittgenstein’s writings from the years between his return to philosophy in 1929 and the completion of Part I of the Philosophical Investigations in 1945 are about issues in the philosophy of mathematics. In 1929 he wrote that “There is no religious denomination in which so much sin has been committed through the misuse of metaphorical expressions as in mathematics”. But what sins, and which misuses, was he criticizing in his writings on the philosophy of mathematics? Wittgenstein, (...)Finitism and the Foundations of Mathematics offers a fresh and illuminating way of approaching these basic questions about how to read Wittgenstein’s remarks on mathematics. (shrink)
Many philosophers have argued that the past must be finite in duration because otherwise reaching the present moment would have involved something impossible, namely, the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events. In reply, some philosophers have objected that there can be nothing amiss in such an occurrence, since actually infinite sequences are ‘traversed’ all the time in nature, for example, whenever an object moves from one location in space to another. This essay focuses on one of the two (...) available replies to this objection, namely, the claim that actual infinities are not traversed in nature because space, time, and other continuous wholes divide into parts only in so far as we divide them in thought, and thus divide into only a finite number of parts. I grant that this reply succeeds in blunting the anti-finitist objection, but I argue that it also subverts the very argument against an eternal past that it was intended to save. (shrink)
The unfolding of schematic formal systems is a novel concept which was initiated in Feferman , Gödel ’96, Lecture Notes in Logic, Springer, Berlin, 1996, pp. 3–22). This paper is mainly concerned with the proof-theoretic analysis of various unfolding systems for non-finitist arithmetic . In particular, we examine two restricted unfoldings and , as well as a full unfolding, . The principal results then state: is equivalent to ; is equivalent to ; is equivalent to . Thus is proof-theoretically equivalent (...) to predicative analysis. (shrink)
The background of these remarks is that in 1967, in ‘’Constructive reasoning” , I sketched an argument that finitist arithmetic coincides with primitive recursive arithmetic, P RA; and in 1981, in “Finitism” , I expanded on the argument. But some recent discussions and some of the more recent literature on the subject lead me to think that a few further remarks would be useful.
Dummett's objections to the coherence of the strict finitist philosophy of mathematics are thus, at the present time at least, ill-taken. We have so far no definitive treatment of Sorites paradoxes; so no conclusive ground for dismissing Dummett's response — the response of simply writing off a large class of familiar, confidently handled expressions as semantically incoherent. I believe that cannot be the right response, if only because it threatens to open an unacceptable gulf between the insight into his own (...) understanding available to a philosophically reflective speaker and the conclusions available to one confined to observing the former's linguistic practice; for an observer of our linguistic practice could never justifiably arrive at the conclusion that ‘red’, ‘child’, etc., are governed by inconsistent rules. But the Sorites is not the subject of this paper. The points I hope to have made plausible are: that a generalized intuitionist position cannot be so much as formulated and that even a most local intuitionism, argued for the special case of arithmetic, is hard pressed effectively to stabilize and defend itself; that strict finitism remains the natural outcome of the anti-realism which Dummett has propounded by way of support for the intuitionist philosophy of mathematics; that it is powerfully buttressed by the ideas of the latter Wittgenstein on rule-following; and that there is no extant compelling reason to suppose that its involvement with predicates of surveyability calls its coherence into question. The correct philosophical assessment of strict finitism, and its proper mathematical exegesis, remain absolutely open, almost virgin issues. This is not a situation which philosophers of mathematics should tolerate very much longer. (shrink)
Finitism is given an interpretation based on two ideas about strings (sequences of symbols): a replacement principle extracted from Hilberts class 2 can be justified by means of an additional finitistic choice principle, thus obtaining a second equational theory . It is unknown whether is strictly stronger than since 2 may coincide with the class of lower elementary functions.
There are some puzzles about G¨ odel’s published and unpublished remarks concerning finitism that have led some commentators to believe that his conception of it was unstable, that he oscillated back and forth between different accounts of it. I want to discuss these puzzles and argue that, on the contrary, G¨ odel’s writings represent a smooth evolution, with just one rather small double-reversal, of his view of finitism. He used the term “finit” (in German) or “finitary” or “finitistic” (...) primarily to refer to Hilbert’s conception of finitary mathematics. On two occasions (only, as far as I know), the lecture notes for his lecture at Zilsel’s [G¨ odel, 1938a] and the lecture notes for a lecture at Yale [G¨ odel, *1941], he used it in a way that he knew—in the second case, explicitly—went beyond what Hilbert meant. Early in his career, he believed that finitism (in Hilbert’s sense) is openended, in the sense that no correct formal system can be known to formalize all finitist proofs and, in particular, all possible finitist proofs of consistency of first-order number theory, P A; but starting in the Dialectica paper.. (shrink)
Context: Strict finitism is usually not taken seriously as a possible view on what mathematics is and how it functions. This is due mainly to unfamiliarity with the topic. Problem: First, it is necessary to present a “decent” history of strict finitism and, secondly, to show that common counterarguments against strict finitism can be properly addressed and refuted. Method: For the historical part, the historical material is situated in a broader context, and for the argumentative part, an (...) evaluation of arguments and counterarguments is presented. Results: The main result is that strict finitism is indeed a viable option, next to other constructive approaches, in mathematics. Implications: Arguing for strict finitism is more complex than is usually thought. For future research, strict finitist mathematics itself needs to be written out in more detail to increase its credibility. In as far as strict finitism is a viable option, it will change our views on such “classics” as the platonist-constructivist discussion, the discovery-construction debate and the mysterious applicability problem . Constructivist content: Strict finitism starts from the idea that counting is an act of labeling, hence the mathematician is an active subject right from the start. It differs from other constructivist views in that the finite limitations of the human subject are taken into account. (shrink)
This is a survey of Gödel's perennial preoccupations with the limits of finitism, its relations to constructivity, and the significance of his incompleteness theorems for Hilbert's program, using his published and unpublished articles and lectures as well as the correspondence between Bernays and Gödel on these matters. There is also an important subtext, namely the shadow of Hilbert that loomed over Gödel from the beginning to the end.
In his paper ‘Wang’s Paradox’, Michael Dummett provides an argument for why strict finitism in mathematics is internally inconsistent and therefore an untenable position. Dummett’s argument proceeds by making two claims: (1) Strict finitism is committed to the claim that there are sets of natural numbers which are closed under the successor operation but nonetheless have an upper bound; (2) Such a commitment is inconsistent, even by finitistic standards. -/- In this paper I claim that Dummett’s argument fails. (...) I question both parts of Dummett’s argument, but most importantly I claim that Dummett’s argument in favour of the second claim crucially relies on an implicit assumption that Dummett does not acknowledge and that the strict finitist need not accept. (shrink)
In this paper, elementary but hitherto overlooked connections are established between Wittgenstein's remarks on mathematics, written during his transitional period, and free-variable finitism. After giving a brief description of theTractatus Logico-Philosophicus on quantifiers and generality, I present in the first section Wittgenstein's rejection of quantification theory and his account of general arithmetical propositions, to use modern jargon, as claims (as opposed to statements). As in Skolem's primitive recursive arithmetic and Goodstein's equational calculus, Wittgenstein represented generality by the use of (...) free variables. This has the effect that negation of unbounded universal and existential propositions cannot be expressed. This is claimed in the second section to be the basis for Wittgenstein's criticism of the universal validity of the law of excluded middle. In the last section, there is a brief discussion of Wittgenstein's remarks on real numbers. These show a preference, in line with finitism, for a recursive version of the continuum. (shrink)
The concept of the (full) unfolding of a schematic system is used to answer the following question: Which operations and predicates, and which principles concerning them, ought to be accepted if one has accepted ? The program to determine for various systems of foundational significance was previously carried out for a system of nonfinitist arithmetic, ; it was shown that is proof-theoretically equivalent to predicative analysis. In the present paper we work out the unfolding notions for a basic schematic system (...) of finitist arithmetic, , and for an extension of that by a form of the so-called Bar Rule. It is shown that and are proof-theoretically equivalent, respectively, to Primitive Recursive Arithmetic, , and to Peano Arithmetic,. (shrink)
Some philosophers contend that the past must be finite in duration, because otherwise reaching the present would have involved the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events, which they regard as impossible. I recently developed a new objection to this finitist argument, to which Andrew Ter Ern Loke and Travis Dumsday have replied. Here I respond to the three main points raised in their replies.
Rule following is often made an unnecessary mystery in the philosophy of social science. One form of mystification is the issue of 'rule finitism', which raises the puzzle as to how a learner can possibly extend the rule to applications beyond those examples which have been given as instruction in the rule. Despite the claim that this problem originated in the work of Wittgenstein, it is clear that his philosophical method is designed to evaporate, not perpetuate, such problems. The (...) supposed problem of rule finitism is malformed, deriving from misconceptions about the relation between understanding a rule and making an application of it. (shrink)
Hilbert developed his famous finitist point of view in several essays in the 1920s. In this paper, we discuss various extensions of it, with particular emphasis on those suggested by Hilbert and Bernays in Grundlagen der Mathematik (vol. I 1934, vol. II 1939). The paper is in three sections. The first deals with Hilbert's introduction of a restricted ? -rule in his 1931 paper ?Die Grundlegung der elementaren Zahlenlehre?. The main question we discuss here is whether the finitist (meta-)mathematician would (...) be entitled to accept this rule as a finitary rule of inference. In the second section, we assess the strength of finitist metamathematics in Hilbert and Bernays 1934. The third and final section is devoted to the second volume of Grundlagen der Mathematik. For preparatory reasons, we first discuss Gentzen's proposal of expanding the range of what can be admitted as finitary in his esssay ?Die Widerspruchsfreiheit der reinen Zahlentheorie? (1936). As to Hilbert and Bernays 1939, we end on a ?critical? note: however considerable the impact of this work may have been on subsequent developments in metamathematics, there can be no doubt that in it the ideals of Hilbert's original finitism have fallen victim to sheer proof-theoretic pragmatism. (shrink)
An observation and a thesis: The observation is that, whatever the connection between Kant’s philosophy and Hilbert’s conception of finitism, Kant’s account of geometric reasoning shares an essential idea with the account of finitist number theory in “Finitism”, namely the idea of constructions f from ‘arbitrary’ or ‘generic’ objects of various types. The thesis is that, contrary to a substantial part of contemporary literature on the subject, when Kant referred to number and arithmetic, he was not referring to (...) the natural or whole numbers and their arithmetic, but rather to the real numbers and their arithmetic. (shrink)
In his “Kant and Finitism” Tait attempts to connect his analysis of finitist arithmetic with Kant’s perspective on arithmetic. The examination of this attempt is the basis for a distinctive view on the dramatic methodological shift from Kant to Dedekind and Hilbert. Dedekind’s 1888 essay “Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?” gives a logical analysis of arithmetic, whereas Hilbert’s 1899 book “Grundlagen der Geometrie” presents such an analysis of geometry or, as Hilbert puts it, of our spatial intuition. (...) This shift in the late ninteenth century required a radical expansion of logic: first by the inclusion of principles for “systems” and “mappings”, but second by a structuralist broadening of axioms and inferential principles. The interaction of mathematics and logic in mathematical logic opened, around 1920, fields of investigation with enormous impact on the philosophy of mathematics, promoting a deeper integration of mathematical practice and philosophical reflection. (shrink)
In the 1920s, David Hilbert proposed a research program with the aim of providing mathematics with a secure foundation. This was to be accomplished by first formalizing logic and mathematics in their entirety, and then showing---using only so-called finitistic principles---that these formalizations are free of contradictions. ;In the area of logic, the Hilbert school accomplished major advances both in introducing new systems of logic, and in developing central metalogical notions, such as completeness and decidability. The analysis of unpublished material presented (...) in Chapter 2 shows that a completeness proof for propositional logic was found by Hilbert and his assistant Paul Bernays already in 1917--18, and that Bernays's contribution was much greater than is commonly acknowledged. Aside from logic, the main technical contribution of Hilbert's Program are the development of formal mathematical theories and proof-theoretical investigations thereof, in particular, consistency proofs. In this respect Wilhelm Ackermann's 1924 dissertation is a milestone both in the development of the Program and in proof theory in general. Ackermann gives a consistency proof for a second-order version of primitive recursive arithmetic which, surprisingly, explicitly uses a finitistic version of transfinite induction up to www . He also gave a faulty consistency proof for a system of second-order arithmetic based on Hilbert's &egr;-substitution method. Detailed analyses of both proofs in Chapter 3 shed light on the development of finitism and proof theory in the 1920s as practiced in Hilbert's school. ;In a series of papers, Charles Parsons has attempted to map out a notion of mathematical intuition which he also brings to bear on Hilbert's finitism. According to him, mathematical intuition fails to be able to underwrite the kind of intuitive knowledge Hilbert thought was attainable by the finitist. It is argued in Chapter 4 that the extent of finitistic knowledge which intuition can provide is broader than Parsons supposes. According to another influential analysis of finitism due to W. W. Tait, finitist reasoning coincides with primitive recursive reasoning. The acceptance of non-primitive recursive methods in Ackermann's dissertation presented in Chapter 3, together with additional textual evidence presented in Chapter 4, shows that this identification is untenable as far as Hilbert's conception of finitism is concerned. Tait's conception, however, differs from Hilbert's in important respects, yet it is also open to criticisms leading to the conclusion that finitism encompasses more than just primitive recursive reasoning. (shrink)
Context: Strict finitism is usually not taken seriously as a possible view on what mathematics is and how it functions. This is due mainly to unfamiliarity with the topic. Problem: First, it is necessary to present a “decent” history of strict finitism (which is now lacking) and, secondly, to show that common counterarguments against strict finitism can be properly addressed and refuted. Method: For the historical part, the historical material is situated in a broader context, and for (...) the argumentative part, an evaluation of arguments and counterarguments is presented. Results: The main result is that strict finitism is indeed a viable option, next to other constructive approaches, in (the foundations of) mathematics. Implications: Arguing for strict finitism is more complex than is usually thought. For future research, strict finitist mathematics itself needs to be written out in more detail to increase its credibility. In as far as strict finitism is a viable option, it will change our views on such “classics” as the platonist-constructivist discussion, the discovery-construction debate and the mysterious applicability problem (why is mathematics so successful in its applications?). Constructivist content: Strict finitism starts from the idea that counting is an act of labeling, hence the mathematician is an active subject right from the start. It differs from other constructivist views in that the finite limitations of the human subject are taken into account. (shrink)
The philosolphy of strict finitism is a research programme containing developmental theory and mathematics as its main branches. The first branch is concerned with the ontogenetic and historicaldevelopment of various concepts of infinity. The frame work is Jean Piaget’s genetic epistemology. Based upon these develop mental studies, the mathematical branch introduces a new concept of infinity into mathematics. Cantor propagated the actual infinite, Brouwer and the constructivists the potential infinite. Still more radical is strict finitism, favoring the natural (...) infinite, i.e. the phenomena of the unsurveyable, unfeasible, unreachable. There exist by this time strict finitistic reconstructions for arithmetic, geometry, calculus, and even for infinitistic set theory. (shrink)
This article introduces finitist set theory (FST) and shows how it can be applied in modeling finite nested structures. Mereology is a straightforward foundation for transitive chains of part-whole relations between individuals but is incapable of modeling antitransitive chains. Traditional set theories are capable of modeling transitive and antitransitive chains of relations, but due to their function as foundations of mathematics they come with features that make them unnecessarily difficult in modeling finite structures. FST has been designed to function as (...) a practical tool in modeling transitive and antitransitive chains of relations without suffering from difficulties of traditional set theories, and a major portion of the functionality of discrete mereology can be incorporated in FST. This makes FST a viable collection theory in ontological modeling. (shrink)
David Bloor and Crispin Wright have argued, independently, that the proper lesson to draw from Wittgenstein's so-called rule-following considerations is the rejection of meaning Platonism. According to Platonism, the meaningfulness of a general term is constituted by its connection with an abstract entity, the (possibly) infinite extension of which is determined independently of our classificatory practices. Having rejected Platonism, both Bloor and Wright are driven to meaning finitism, the view that the question of whether a meaningful term correctly applies (...) to a given entity is not determined in advance of anyone's judgement about the matter. I argue that the two views do not form a dichotomy - there is room for a middle position which can account for the correct applications existing in advance of anyone's judgements without being committed to meaning Platonism. Furthermore, I will show how such a middle position arises quite naturally from the view that our competence with semantically basic terms is response-dependent. (shrink)
In his paper `Finitism' , W.W.~Tait maintained that the chief difficulty for everyone who wishes to understand Hilbert's conception of finitist mathematics is this: to specify the sense of the provability of general statements about the natural numbers without presupposing infinite totalities. Tait further argued that all finitist reasoning is essentially primitive recursive. In our paper, we attempt to show that his thesis ``The finitist functions are precisely the primitive recursive functions'' is disputable and that another, likewise defended by (...) him, is untenable. The second thesis is that the finitist theorems are precisely those $\Pi^0_1$-sentences that can be proved in. (shrink)
Michael Dummett's anti-realism is founded on the semantics of natural language which, he argues, can only be satisfactorily given in mathematics by intuitionism. It has been objected that an analog of Dummett's argument will collapse intuitionism into strict finitism. My purpose in this paper is to refute this objection, which I argue Dummett does not successfully do. I link the coherence of strict finitism to a view of confirmation — that our actual practical abilities cannot confirm we know (...) what would happen if we could compute impracticably vast problems. But to state his case, the strict finitists have to suppose that we grasp the truth conditions of sentences we can't actually decide. This comprehension must be practically demonstrable, or the analogy with Dummett's argument fails. So, our actual abilities must be capable of confirming that we know what would be the case if actually undecidable sentences were true, contradicting the view of confirmation. I end by considering objections. (shrink)
After a brief flirtation with logicism around 1917, David Hilbertproposed his own program in the foundations of mathematics in 1920 and developed it, in concert with collaborators such as Paul Bernays andWilhelm Ackermann, throughout the 1920s. The two technical pillars of the project were the development of axiomatic systems for everstronger and more comprehensive areas of mathematics, and finitisticproofs of consistency of these systems. Early advances in these areaswere made by Hilbert (and Bernays) in a series of lecture courses atthe (...) University of Göttingen between 1917 and 1923, and notably in Ackermann's dissertation of 1924. The main innovation was theinvention of the -calculus, on which Hilbert's axiom systemswere based, and the development of the -substitution methodas a basis for consistency proofs. The paper traces the developmentof the ``simultaneous development of logic and mathematics'' throughthe -notation and provides an analysis of Ackermann'sconsistency proofs for primitive recursive arithmetic and for thefirst comprehensive mathematical system, the latter using thesubstitution method. It is striking that these proofs use transfiniteinduction not dissimilar to that used in Gentzen's later consistencyproof as well as non-primitive recursive definitions, and that thesemethods were accepted as finitistic at the time. (shrink)
It is reported that in reply to John Wisdom’s request in 1944 to provide a dictionary entry describing his philosophy, Wittgenstein wrote only one sentence: “He has concerned himself principally with questions about the foundations of mathematics”. However, an understanding of his philosophy of mathematics has long been a desideratum. This was the case, in particular, for the period stretching from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to the so-called transitional phase. Marion’s book represents a giant leap forward in this direction. In the (...) preface, Marion provides a diagnosis for why it has taken such a long time to obtain an accurate picture of Wittgenstein’s ideas in the foundations of mathematics. When the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics came out in 1956 the reception by specialists, such as Kreisel, was negative. This led many Wittgenstein scholars to set aside the issues in the foundations of mathematics and go on with the business of the day, focusing on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language and psychology. However, these early negative appraisals were severely limited by two facts. First of all, the nature of the Remarks was a hindrance to an understanding of what Wittgenstein was up to. The book was edited by Wittgenstein’s literary executors by collating together passages from several manuscripts dating from 1937 to 1944, cutting, however, many passages in between remarks. Second, many of the original manuscripts and typescripts of the transitional phase were not available and thus it was virtually impossible to obtain a balanced picture of Wittgenstein’s development. Finally, a stark contraposition between the early and late Wittgenstein did not encourage people to work seriously on the development of Wittgenstein’s position from the Tractatus through the transitional period to the later writings. (shrink)
This pioneering book demonstrates the crucial importance of Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics to his philosophy as a whole. Marion traces the development of Wittgenstein's thinking in the context of the mathematical and philosophical work of the times, to make coherent sense of ideas that have too often been misunderstood because they have been presented in a disjointed and incomplete way. In particular, he illuminates the work of the neglected 'transitional period' between the Tractatus and the Investigations.
David Hilbert's finitistic standpoint is a conception of elementary number theory designed to answer the intuitionist doubts regarding the security and certainty of mathematics. Hilbert was unfortunately not exact in delineating what that viewpoint was, and Hilbert himself changed his usage of the term through the 1920s and 30s. The purpose of this paper is to outline what the main problems are in understanding Hilbert and Bernays on this issue, based on some publications by them which have so far received (...) little attention, and on a number of philosophical reconstructions of the viewpoint (in particular, by Hand, Kitcher, and Tait). (shrink)
Elementary Recursive Nonstandard Analysis, in short ERNA, is a constructive system of nonstandard analysis with a PRA consistency proof, proposed in around 1995 by Patrick Suppes and Richard Sommer. It is based on an earlier system developed by Rolando Chuaqui and Patrick Suppes. Here, we discuss the inherent problems and limitations of the classical nonstandard framework and propose a much-needed refinement of ERNA, called , in the spirit of Karel Hrbacek’s stratified set theory. We study the metamathematics of and its (...) extensions. In particular, we consider several transfer principles, both classical and ‘stratified’, which turn out to be related. Finally, we show that the resulting theory allows for a truly general, elegant and elementary treatment of basic analysis. (shrink)
ABSTRACTStephen Puryear argues that William Lane Craig's view, that time as duration is logically prior to the potentially infinite divisions that we make of it, involves the idea that time is prior to any parts we conceive within it. He objects that PWT entails the Priority of the Whole with respect to Events, and that it subverts the argument, used by proponents of the Kalam Cosmological Argument such as Craig, against an eternal past based on the impossibility of traversing an (...) actual infinite sequence of events. I argue that proponents of KCA can affirm that time is not discrete, nor is it continuous with actual infinite number of parts or points, but rather that it is a continuum with various parts yet without an actual infinite number of parts or points. I defend this view, and I reply to Puryear's other objections. (shrink)
We propose a new interpretation of objective deterministic chances in statistical physics based on physical computational complexity. This notion applies to a single physical system (be it an experimental set--up in the lab, or a subsystem of the universe), and quantifies (1) the difficulty to realize a physical state given another, (2) the 'distance' (in terms of physical resources) from a physical state to another, and (3) the size of the set of time--complexity functions that are compatible with the physical (...) resources required to reach a physical state from another. (shrink)