I contend that mathematical domains are freestanding institutional entities that, at least typically, are introduced to serve representational functions. In this paper, I outline an account of institutional reality and a supporting metaontological perspective that clarify the content of this thesis. I also argue that a philosophy of mathematics that has this thesis as its central tenet can account for the objectivity, necessity, and atemporality of mathematics.
Stereotypes of social construction suggest that the existence of social constructs is accidental and that such constructs have arbitrary and subjective features. In this paper, I explore a conception of social construction according to which it consists in the collective imposition of function onto reality and show that, according to this conception, these stereotypes are incorrect. In particular, I argue that the collective imposition of function onto reality is typically non-accidental and that the products of such imposition frequently have non-arbitrary (...) and objective features. These conclusions are interesting in and of themselves since they debunk important aspects of our socially constructed conception of social construction. Yet, additionally, they have important implications for the viability of mathematical social constructivism since resistance to such constructivism is frequently grounded in the observation that mathematics is non-accidental, non-arbitrary, and objective. As a secondary focus, I explore these implications in this paper. (shrink)
I discuss a puzzle that shows there is a need to develop a new metaphysical interpretation of mathematical theories, because all well-known interpretations conflict with important aspects of mathematical activities. The new interpretation, I argue, must authenticate the ontological commitments of mathematical theories without curtailing mathematicians' freedom and authority to creatively introduce mathematical ontology during mathematical problem-solving. Further, I argue that these two constraints are best met by a metaphysical interpretation of mathematics that takes mathematical entities to be constitutively constructed (...) by human activity in a manner similar to the constitutive construction of the US Supreme Court by certain legal and political activities. Finally, I outline some of the philosophical merits of metaphysical interpretations of mathematical theories of this type. (shrink)
In this article, I articulate and defend an account of corporations motivated by John Searle’s discussion of them in his Making the Social World. According to this account, corporations are abstract entities that are the products of status function Declarations. They are also connected with, though not reducible to, various people and certain of the power relations among them. Moreover, these connections are responsible for corporations having features that stereotypical abstract entities lack (e.g., the abilities to take actions and make (...) profits). (shrink)
Two topics figure prominently in recent discussions of mathematical structuralism: challenges to the purported metaphysical insight provided by sui generis structuralism and the significance of category theory for understanding and articulating mathematical structuralism. This article presents an overview of central themes related to these topics.
I respond to a challenge by Dieterle (Philos Math 18:311–328, 2010) that requires mathematical social constructivists to complete two tasks: (i) counter the myth that socially constructed contents lack objectivity and (ii) provide a plausible social constructivist account of the objectivity of mathematical contents. I defend three theses: (a) the collective agreements responsible for there being socially constructed contents differ in ways that account for such contents possessing varying levels of objectivity, (b) to varying extents, the truth values of objective, (...) socially constructed contents are constrained to be what they are, and (c) typically, socially constructed mathematical contents are objective and possess truth values that are highly constrained by the intended applications of the mathematical facets of reality that they represent. (shrink)
1.1 ContextIn the period following the demise of logicism, formalism, and intuitionism, contributors to the philosophy of mathematics have been divided. On the one hand, there are those who tend to focus on such issues as: Do mathematical entities exist? If so, what type of entities are they and how do we know about them? If not, how can we account for the role that mathematics plays in our everyday and scientific lives? Contributors to this school—let us call it the (...) analytic school—do not, on the whole, concern themselves with careful analyses of important historical developments in mathematics. On the other hand, there are those who contribute to an historical school in the philosophy of mathematics. Contributors to this school tend to concern themselves almost exclusively with detailed historical analyses of important developments in mathematics. They are typically interested in answering questions concerning the growth of mathematical knowledge.In recent years, interest in the historical school has been growing, as has its influence on the analytic school. This book marks another stride in this direction. Oliveri aims to employ tools developed for use within the historical school to address one of the major issues investigated by the analytic school, i.e., whether we should be realists or anti-realists about mathematics. This is a laudable objective, since even a successful partial integration of these two schools would be valuable to contributors within both.1.2 Noteworthy ContributionsIn attempting a partial integration of these two schools, Oliveri makes several noteworthy contributions. The most significant is his development of a new type of argument for structural realism about mathematics. This argument exploits tools for theorizing about mathematics that were developed by Imre Lakatos  in his work on scientific research programs . It focuses attention on the progressive mathematical research program that started with …. (shrink)