Numbers and other mathematical objects are exceptional in having no locations in space or time or relations of cause and effect. This makes it difficult to account for the possibility of the knowledge of such objects, leading many philosophers to embrace nominalism, the doctrine that there are no such objects, and to embark on ambitious projects for interpreting mathematics so as to preserve the subject while eliminating its objects. This book cuts through a host of technicalities that have obscured previous (...) discussions of these projects, and presents clear, concise accounts of a dozen strategies for nominalistic interpretation of mathematics, thus equipping the reader to evaluate each and to compare different ones. The authors also offer critical discussion, rare in the literature, of the aims and claims of nominalistic interpretation, suggesting that it is significant in a very different way from that usually assumed. (shrink)
This is a concise, advanced introduction to current philosophical debates about truth. A blend of philosophical and technical material, the book is organized around, but not limited to, the tendency known as deflationism, according to which there is not much to say about the nature of truth. In clear language, Burgess and Burgess cover a wide range of issues, including the nature of truth, the status of truth-value gaps, the relationship between truth and meaning, relativism and pluralism about truth, and (...) semantic paradoxes from Alfred Tarski to Saul Kripke and beyond. Following a brief introduction that reviews the most influential traditional and contemporary theories of truth, short chapters cover Tarski, deflationism, indeterminacy, realism, antirealism, Kripke, and the possible insolubility of semantic paradoxes. The book provides a rich picture of contemporary philosophical theorizing about truth, one that will be essential reading for philosophy students as well as philosophers specializing in other areas. (shrink)
This is the first systematic survey of modern nominalistic reconstructions of mathematics, and for this reason alone it should be read by everyone interested in the philosophy of mathematics and, more generally, in questions concerning abstract entities. In the bulk of the book, the authors sketch a common formal framework for nominalistic reconstructions, outline three major strategies such reconstructions can follow, and locate proposals in the literature with respect to these strategies. The discussion is presented with admirable precision and clarity, (...) and should be accessible even to readers with only minimal background in logic and mathematics. There will be many who will turn directly to these pages and use them as a brief manual on the state of the art of nominalism in mathematics. But the most intriguing parts of this elegant book—at least in my view—are the introduction and the conclusion, where the authors examine the significance of reconstructive nominalism. (shrink)
While we are commonly told that the distinctive method of mathematics is rigorous proof, and that the special topic of mathematics is abstract structure, there has been no agreement among mathematicians, logicians, or philosophers as to just what either of these assertions means. John P. Burgess clarifies the nature of mathematical rigor and of mathematical structure, and above all of the relation between the two, taking into account some of the latest developments in mathematics, including the rise of experimental mathematics (...) on the one hand and computerized formal proofs on the other hand. Along the way, a great many historical developments in mathematics, philosophy, and logic are surveyed. Yet very little in the way of background knowledge on the part of the reader is presupposed. (shrink)
This volume reprints a dozen of the author’s papers, most with substantial postscripts, and adds one new one. The bulk of the material is on topics in philosophy of language, but there are also two papers on philosophy of mathematics written after the appearance of the author’s collected papers on that subject, and one on epistemology. As to the substance of Field’s contributions, limitations of space preclude doing much more below than indicating the range of issues addressed, and the general (...) orientation taken towards them. As to the style of his writing, it well exhibits the first of the two virtues, clarity and conciseness, that one looks for in philosophical prose. (shrink)
Mathematics tells us there exist infinitely many prime numbers. Nominalist philosophy, introduced by Goodman and Quine, tells us there exist no numbers at all, and so no prime numbers. Nominalists are aware that the assertion of the existence of prime numbers is warranted by the standards of mathematical science; they simply reject scientific standards of warrant.
Philosophical Logic is a clear and concise critical survey of nonclassical logics of philosophical interest written by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. After giving an overview of classical logic, John Burgess introduces five central branches of nonclassical logic, focusing on the sometimes problematic relationship between formal apparatus and intuitive motivation. Requiring minimal background and arranged to make the more technical material optional, the book offers a choice between an overview and in-depth study, and it balances the (...) philosophical and technical aspects of the subject.The book emphasizes the relationship between models and the traditional goal of logic, the evaluation of arguments, and critically examines apparatus and assumptions that often are taken for granted. Philosophical Logic provides an unusually thorough treatment of conditional logic, unifying probabilistic and model-theoretic approaches. It underscores the variety of approaches that have been taken to relevantistic and related logics, and it stresses the problem of connecting formal systems to the motivating ideas behind intuitionistic mathematics. Each chapter ends with a brief guide to further reading.Philosophical Logic addresses students new to logic, philosophers working in other areas, and specialists in logic, providing both a sophisticated introduction and a new synthesis. (shrink)
The form of nominalism known as 'mathematical fictionalism' is examined and found wanting, mainly on grounds that go back to an early antinominalist work of Rudolf Carnap that has unfortunately not been paid sufficient attention by more recent writers.
A new axiomatization of set theory, to be called Bernays-Boolos set theory, is introduced. Its background logic is the plural logic of Boolos, and its only positive set-theoretic existence axiom is a reflection principle of Bernays. It is a very simple system of axioms sufficient to obtain the usual axioms of ZFC, plus some large cardinals, and to reduce every question of plural logic to a question of set theory.
Computability and Logic has become a classic because of its accessibility to students without a mathematical background and because it covers not simply the staple topics of an intermediate logic course, such as Godel's incompleteness theorems, but also a large number of optional topics, from Turing's theory of computability to Ramsey's theorem. This 2007 fifth edition has been thoroughly revised by John Burgess. Including a selection of exercises, adjusted for this edition, at the end of each chapter, it offers a (...) simpler treatment of the representability of recursive functions, a traditional stumbling block for students on the way to the Godel incompleteness theorems. This updated edition is also accompanied by a website as well as an instructor's manual. (shrink)
The source, status, and significance of the derivation of the necessity of identity at the beginning of Kripke’s lecture “Identity and Necessity” is discussed from a logical, philosophical, and historical point of view.
Quine correctly argues that Carnap's distinction between internal and external questions rests on a distinction between analytic and synthetic, which Quine rejects. I argue that Quine needs something like Carnap's distinction to enable him to explain the obviousness of elementary mathematics, while at the same time continuing to maintain as he does that the ultimate ground for holding mathematics to be a body of truths lies in the contribution that mathematics makes to our overall scientific theory of the world. Quine's (...) arguments against the analytic/synthetic distinction, even if fully accepted, still leave room for a notion of pragmatic analyticity sufficient for the indicated purpose. (shrink)
The question, "Which modal logic is the right one for logical necessity?," divides into two questions, one about model-theoretic validity, the other about proof-theoretic demonstrability. The arguments of Halldén and others that the right validity argument is S5, and the right demonstrability logic includes S4, are reviewed, and certain common objections are argued to be fallacious. A new argument, based on work of Supecki and Bryll, is presented for the claim that the right demonstrability logic must be contained in S5, (...) and a more speculative argument for the claim that it does not include S4.2 is also presented. (shrink)
When I first began to take an interest in the debate over nominalism in philosophy of mathematics, some twenty-odd years ago, the issue had already been under discussion for about a half-century. The terms of the debate had been set: W. V. Quine and others had given “abstract,” “nominalism,” “ontology,” and “Platonism” their modern meanings. Nelson Goodman had launched the project of the nominalistic reconstruction of science, or of the mathematics used in science, in which Quine for a time had (...) joined him before turning against him. William Alston, Rudolf Carnap, and Michael Dummett had raised doubts about what the point of Goodman’s exercise could be, and though they had unfortunately been largely ignored, Quine’s contention that the exercise cannot be successfully completed had gained wide publicity as the so-called “indispensability” argument against nominalism. By contrast, two subtle discussions of Paul Benacerraf had been appropriated by nominalists and turned into the so-called “multiple reductions” and “epistemological” arguments for nominalism. (shrink)
One textbook may introduce the real numbers in Cantor’s way, and another in Dedekind’s, and the mathematical community as a whole will be completely indifferent to the choice between the two. This sort of phenomenon was famously called to the attention of philosophers by Paul Benacerraf. It will be argued that structuralism in philosophy of mathematics is a mistake, a generalization of Benacerraf’s observation in the wrong direction, resulting from philosophers’ preoccupation with ontology.
John Burgess is the author of a rich and creative body of work which seeks to defend classical logic and mathematics through counter-criticism of their nominalist, intuitionist, relevantist, and other critics. This selection of his essays, which spans twenty-five years, addresses key topics including nominalism, neo-logicism, intuitionism, modal logic, analyticity, and translation. An introduction sets the essays in context and offers a retrospective appraisal of their aims. The volume will be of interest to a wide range of readers across philosophy (...) of mathematics, logic, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
Saul Kripke has been a major influence on analytic philosophy and allied fields for a half-century and more. His early masterpiece, _Naming and Necessity_, reversed the pattern of two centuries of philosophizing about the necessary and the contingent. Although much of his work remains unpublished, several major essays have now appeared in print, most recently in his long-awaited collection _Philosophical Troubles_. In this book Kripke’s long-time colleague, the logician and philosopher John P. Burgess, offers a thorough and self-contained guide to (...) all of Kripke’s published books and his most important philosophical papers, old and new. It also provides an authoritative but non-technical account of Kripke’s influential contributions to the study of modal logic and logical paradoxes. Although Kripke has been anything but a system-builder, Burgess expertly uncovers the connections between different parts of his oeuvre. Kripke is shown grappling, often in opposition to existing traditions, with mysteries surrounding the nature of necessity, rule-following, and the conscious mind, as well as with intricate and intriguing puzzles about identity, belief and self-reference. Clearly contextualizing the full range of Kripke’s work, Burgess outlines, summarizes and surveys the issues raised by each of the philosopher’s major publications. _Kripke_ will be essential reading for anyone interested in the work of one of analytic philosophy’s greatest living thinkers. (shrink)
Perhaps if the future existed, concretely and individually, as something that could be discerned by a better brain, the past would not be so seductive: its demands would he balanced by those of the future. Persons might then straddle the middle stretch of the seesaw when considering this or that object. It might be fun. But the future has no such reality (as the pictured past and the perceived present possess); the future is but a figure of speech, a specter (...) of thought. (shrink)
There are schools of logicians who claim that an argument is not valid unless the conclusion is relevant to the premises. In particular, relevance logicians reject the classical theses that anything follows from a contradiction and that a logical truth follows from everything. This chapter critically evaluates several different motivations for relevance logic, and several systems of relevance logic, finding them all wanting.
Alan Weir’s new book is, like Darwin’s Origin of Species, ‘one long argument’. The author has devised a new kind of have-it-both-ways philosophy of mathematics, supposed to allow him to say out of one side of his mouth that the integer 1,000,000 exists and even that the cardinal ℵω exists, while saying out of the other side of his mouth that no numbers exist at all, and the whole book is devoted to an exposition and defense of this new view. (...) The view is presented in the book in a way that can make it difficult for the reader to trace the main line of argument: with a great deal of apparatus, and with a great many digressions into subordinate issues. In what follows I will try to stick to what I take to be the essentials, even at the risk of oversimplifying some central but complicated issues, and at the cost of neglecting some interesting but peripheral ones.In chapter 1, the author introduces a distinction between what he calls ‘two aspects of meaning’ and dubs informational content and metaphysical content. Informational content is the aspect of meaning of primary interest to linguists, and the one of which speakers themselves are generally aware, at least upon reflection. Metaphysical content is supposed to be another aspect of meaning primarily of interest to philosophers. The basic idea is that if there are standards of correctness for assertions of a certain kind, then such an assertion may be called ‘true’ when those standards are met, even though the kind of correctness involved is not correctness in representing how the world is. What the world must be like in order for the utterance to be true is the metaphysical content of the assertion, but it need not be part of its …. (shrink)
Recently it has become almost the received wisdom in certain quarters that Kripke models are appropriate only for something like metaphysical modalities, and not for logical modalities. Here the line of thought leading to Kripke models, and reasons why they are no less appropriate for logical than for other modalities, are explained. It is also indicated where the fallacy in the argument leading to the contrary conclusion lies. The lessons learned are then applied to the question of the status of (...) the formula. (shrink)