In this work I study the main tenets of the logicist philosophy of mathematics. I deal, basically, with two problems: (1) To what extent can one dispense with intuition in mathematics? (2) What is the appropriate logic for the purposes of logicism? By means of my considerations I try to determine the pros and cons of logicism. My standpoint favors the logicist line of thought. -/- .
Russell's philosophy is rightly described as a programme of reduction of mathematics to logic. Now the theory of geometry developed in 1903 does not fit this picture well, since it is deeply rooted in the purely synthetic projective approach, which conflicts with all the endeavours to reduce geometry to analytical geometry. The first goal of this paper is to present an overview of this conception. The second aim is more far-reaching. The fact that such a theory of geometry was (...) sustained by Russell compels us to question the meaning of logicism: how is it possible to reconcile Russell's global reductionist standpoint with his local defence of the specificities of geometry? * This paper was first presented at the conference ‘Qu'est ce que la géométrie aux époques modernes et contemporaines?’, organized by the Universität Köln and the Archives Poincaré. I would like to thank Philippe Nabonnand for having enlightened me about the issues relative to projective geometry. I would like also to thank Nicholas Griffin, Brice Halimi, Bernard Linsky, Marco Panza, Ivahn Smadja for their helpful discussions. Many thanks also to the two anonymous referees for their useful suggestions. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This article aims first at showing that Russell's general doctrine according to which all mathematics is deducible 'by logical principles from logical principles' does not require a preliminary reduction of all mathematics to arithmetic. In the Principles, mechanics (part VII), geometry (part VI), analysis (part IV-V) and magnitude theory (part III) are to be all directly derived from the theory of relations, without being first reduced to arithmetic (part II). The epistemological importance of this point cannot be overestimated: (...) Russell's logicism does not only contain the claim that mathematics is no more than logic, it also contains the claim that the differences between the various mathematical sciences can be logically justified?and thus, that, contrary to the arithmetization stance, analysis, geometry and mechanics are not merely outgrowths of arithmetic. The second aim of this article is to set out the neglected Russellian theory of quantity. The topic is obviously linked with the first, since the mere existence of a doctrine of magnitude, in a work dated from 1903, is a sign of a distrust vis-à-vis the arithmetization programme. After having shown that, despite the works of Cantor, Dedekind and Weierstrass, many mathematicians at the end of the 19th Century elaborated various axiomatic theories of the magnitude, I will try to define the peculiarity of the Russellian approach. I will lay stress on the continuity of the logicist's thought on this point: Whitehead, in the Principia, deepens and generalizes the first Russellian 1903 theory. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell's contributions to last century's philosophy and, in particular, to the philosophy of mathematics cannot be overestimated.Russell, besides being, with Frege and G.E. Moore, one of the founding fathers of analytical philosophy, played a major rôle in the development of logicism, one of the oldest and most resilient1 programmes in the foundations of mathematics.Among his many achievements, we need to mention the discovery of the paradox that bears his name and the identification of its logical nature; (...) the generalization to the whole of mathematics of Frege's idea that it is not possible to draw a demarcation line between logic and arithmetic; the programme, carried out with Whitehead, of derivation of mathematics from the logical system of Principia Mathematica ; and the ramified theory of types, devised by Russell to protect the system of PM from the known paradoxes.Although there is an ample literature on these topics, it is quite important to reconsider Russell's contributions to the foundations of mathematics at a time when, as a consequence of the crisis of the classical programmes in the foundations of mathematics, new trends are beginning to develop within the philosophy of mathematics. These are trends which move in a very different direction from that of logicism, intuitionism, and Hilbert's programme.To see this we need to consider that, in spite of profound disagreements on the nature of mathematical activity, on the relationship existing between logic and mathematics, on the causes of and therapies for the paradoxes, etc., logicism, intuitionism, and Hilbert's programme share an important metaphor: the idea that mathematics is an edifice built on unshakable foundations,2 an edifice which makes possible only a cumulative growth of mathematical knowledge.Such a metaphor—which, together with more specific theses belonging to these schools of thought, remained unsupported …. (shrink)
This paper discusses an intriguing, though rather overlooked case of normative disagreement in the history of philosophy of mathematics: Weyl's criticism of Dedekind’s famous principle that "In science, what is provable ought not to be believed without proof." This criticism, as I see it, challenges not only a logicist norm of belief in mathematics, but also a realist view about whether there is a fact of the matter as to what norms of belief are correct.
The aim of the paper is to present the main trends and tendencies in the philosophy of mathematics in the 20th century. To make the analysis more clear we distinguish three periods in the development of the philosophy of mathematics in this century: (1) the first thirty years when three classical doctrines: logicism, intuitionism and formalism were formulated, (2) the period from 1931 till the end of the fifties - period of stagnation, and (3) from the beginning (...) of the sixties till today when new tendencies putting stress on the knowing subject and the research practice of mathematicians arose. (shrink)
The most prominent “schools” or programs for the foundations of mathematics that took shape in the first third of the 20th century emerged directly from, or in response to, developments in mathematics and logic in the latter part of the 19th century. The first of these programs, so-called logicism, had as its aim the reduction of mathematics to purely logical principles. In order to understand properly its achievements and resulting problems, it is necessary to review the (...) background from that previous period. (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)
Abstractionism, which is a development of Frege's original Logicism, is a recent and much debated position in the philosophy of mathematics. This volume contains 16 original papers by leading scholars on the philosophical and mathematical aspects of Abstractionism. After an extensive editors' introduction to the topic of abstractionism, the volume is split into 4 sections. The contributions within these sections explore the semantics and meta-ontology of Abstractionism, abstractionist epistemology, the mathematics of Abstractionis, and finally, Frege's application constraint (...) within an abstractionist setting. (shrink)
After the 1930s, the research into the foundations of mathematics changed.None of its main directions (logicism, formalism and intuitionism) had any longer the pretension to be the only true mathematics.Usually, the determining factor in the change is considered to be Gödel?s work, while Heyting?s role is neglected.In contrast, in this paper I first describe how Heyting directly suggested the abandonment of the big foundational questions and the putting forward of a new kind of foundational research consisting in (...) the isolation of formal, intuitive, logical and platonistic elements within classical mathematics.Furthermore, I describe how Heyting indirectly influenced the abandon?ment of the old directions of foundational research by making out some lists of degrees of evidence that exist within intuitionism. (shrink)
The paper outlines a project in the philosophy of mathematics based on a proposed view of the nature of mathematical reasoning. It also contains a brief evaluative overview of the discipline and some historical observations; here it points out and illustrates the division between the philosophical dimension, where questions of realism and the status of mathematics are treated, and the more descriptive and looser dimension of epistemic efficiency, which has to do with ways of organizing the mathematical material. (...) The paper’s concern is with the first. The grand tradition in the philosophy of mathematics goes back to the foundational debates at the end of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century. Logicism went together with a realistic view of actual infinities; rejection of, or skepticism about actual infinities derived from conceptions that were Kantian in spirit. Yet questions about the nature of mathematical reasoning should be distinguished from questions about realism (the extent of objective knowledge– independent mathematical truth). Logicism is now dead. Recent attempts to revive it are based on a redefinition of “logic”, which exploits the flexibility of the concept; they yield no interesting insight into the nature of mathematics. A conception of mathematical reasoning, broadly speaking along Kantian lines, need not imply anti–realism and can be pursued and investigated, leaving questions of realism open. Using some concrete examples of non–formal mathematical proofs, the paper proposes that mathematics is the study of forms of organization—-a concept that should be taken as primitive, rather than interpreted in terms of set–theoretic structures. For set theory itself is a study of a particular form of organization, albeit one that provides a modeling for the other known mathematical systems. In a nutshell: “We come to know mathematical truths through becoming aware of the properties of some of the organizational forms that underlie our world. This is possible, due to a capacity we have: to reflect on some of our own practices and the ways of organizing our world, and to realize what they imply.. (shrink)
One important achievement Rudolf Carnap claimed for his book, The Logical Syntax of Language, was that it effected a synthesis of two seemingly antithetical philosophies of mathematics, logicism and formalism. Reconciling these widely divergent conceptions had been a goal of Carnap’s for several years. But in the years in which Carnap’s synthesis evolved, important intellectual developments influenced the direction of his efforts and, ultimately, the final outcome. These developments were, first of all, the epoch-making theorems proved by Kurt (...) Gödel, which required the abandonment of several theses central to the aims of logicism and formalism. Of far greater significance, in the present context, are the changes in Carnap’s own philosophical outlook, brought about not only by Gödel’s theorems but concurrent discussions within the Vienna Circle as well as his own researches. Consequently, the exact sense in which Carnap attempted the synthesis of logicism and formalism in the Logical Syntax requires careful examination. In what follows below, the evolution of Carnap’s synthesis will be traced, from the first reconciliation he proposed , through the synthesis that appeared with the publication of The Logical Syntax of Language. The aim is to determine which modifications of Carnap’s synthesis were required by Gödel’s theorems, and which were motivated by changes in his own thinking. Although the characteristic theses of both logicism and formalism required profound modifications because of Gödel’s theorems, the philosophical impulses that originally fueled their programs retained much of their former virulence. But the changes in Carnap’s thought that ocurred in the years he was developing his synthesis especially affected his appreciation of the philosophical motivations underwriting the logicist approach, so that much of the philosophical insight that inspired it is lost, and Carnap’s combination of logicism and formalism is a putative synthesis at best. (shrink)
This is easily the most systematic survey of the foundations of logic and mathematics available today. Although Beth does not cover the development of set theory in great detail, all other aspects of logic are well represented. There are nine chapters which cover, though not in this order, the following: historical background and introduction to the philosophy of mathematics; the existence of mathematical objects as expressed by Logicism, Cantorism, Intuitionism, and Nominalism; informal elementary axiomatics; formalized axiomatics with (...) reference to finitary theory of proof; non-elementary metamathematics, embracing formal syntax and semantics; applications of set theory and topology in metamathematics—especially in the theory of models; recursive function theory; the logical paradoxes; the relation of philosophy of mathematics to general philosophy. This is a mere skeleton of the whole, but it indicates the broad sweep of the work. One unifying feature is the author's use of his "semantic tableau" method of examining the truth or falsity of sentences. Although the author is an Intuitionist, classical metamathematical proof techniques are by no means slighted; they are used throughout much of the book, and are indispensable, of course, when dealing with classical logic. Exercises are scattered throughout and at the end; few of them are trivial. There is a very extensive bibliography, brought up to date from the first edition. This extraordinary book will be of use to logicians as a reference tool and to philosophers trying to survey the field of modern formal logic; its appearance in a fine paper edition is therefore doubly welcome—P. J. M. (shrink)
This volume covers a wide range of topics in the most recent debates in the philosophy of mathematics, and is dedicated to how semantic, epistemological, ontological and logical issues interact in the attempt to give a satisfactory picture of mathematical knowledge. The essays collected here explore the semantic and epistemic problems raised by different kinds of mathematical objects, by their characterization in terms of axiomatic theories, and by the objectivity of both pure and applied mathematics. They investigate controversial (...) aspects of contemporary theories such as neo-logicist abstractionism, structuralism, or multiversism about sets, by discussing different conceptions of mathematical realism and rival relativistic views on the mathematical universe. They consider fundamental philosophical notions such as set, cardinal number, truth, ground, finiteness and infinity, examining how their informal conceptions can best be captured in formal theories. The philosophy of mathematics is an extremely lively field of inquiry, with extensive reaches in disciplines such as logic and philosophy of logic, semantics, ontology, epistemology, cognitive sciences, as well as history and philosophy of mathematics and science. By bringing together well-known scholars and younger researchers, the essays in this collection – prompted by the meetings of the Italian Network for the Philosophy of Mathematics (FilMat) – show how much valuable research is currently being pursued in this area, and how many roads ahead are still open for promising solutions to long-standing philosophical concerns. Promoted by the Italian Network for the Philosophy of Mathematics – FilMat. (shrink)
A reproach has been done many times to post-modernism: its picking up mathematical notions or results, mostly by misrepresenting their real content, in order to strike the readers and obtaining their assent only by impressing them . In this paper I intend to point out that although Alain Badiou’s approach to philosophy starts with taking distance both from analytic philosophy and from French post-modernism, the categories that he uses for labelling logicism, formalism and intuitionism do not reflect the real (...) content of the foundational schools. Hence, a re-thinking from him would be required about them, otherwise he would risk the same reproaches as post-modernists. (shrink)
In his influential book, The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman writes: “In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles.” What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? This chapter argues that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what the chapter calls the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, (...) D—the challenge to justify our D-beliefs—with the reliability challenge for D-realism—the challenge to explain the reliability of our D-beliefs. Harman’s contrast is relevant to the first, but not, evidently, to the second. One upshot of the discussion is that genealogical debunking arguments are fallacious. Another is that indispensability considerations cannot answer the Benacerraf–Field challenge for mathematical realism. (shrink)
Mathematicians often speak of conjectures as being confirmed by evidence that falls short of proof. For their own conjectures, evidence justifies further work in looking for a proof. Those conjectures of mathematics that have long resisted proof, such as Fermat's Last Theorem and the Riemann Hypothesis, have had to be considered in terms of the evidence for and against them. It is argued here that it is not adequate to describe the relation of evidence to hypothesis as `subjective', `heuristic' (...) or `pragmatic', but that there must be an element of what it is rational to believe on the evidence, that is, of non-deductive logic. (shrink)
Some courses achieve existence, some have to create Professional Issues and Ethics in existence thrust upon them. It is normally Mathematics; but if you don’t do it, we will a struggle to create a course on the ethical be.” I accepted. or social aspects of science or mathematics. The gift of a greenfield site and a bull- This is the story of one that was forced to dozer is a happy occasion, undoubtedly. But exist by an unusual confluence (...) of outside cirwhat to do next? It seemed to me I should cumstances. ensure the course satisfied these require- In the mid 1990s, the University of New ments: South Wales instituted a policy that all its • It should look good to students, to staff. (shrink)
We examine the sense in which logic is a priori, and explain how mathematical theories can be dichotomized non-trivially into analytic and synthetic portions. We argue that Core Logic contains exactly the a-priori-because-analytically-valid deductive principles. We introduce the reader to Core Logic by explaining its relationship to other logical systems, and stating its rules of inference. Important metatheorems about Core Logic are reported, and its important features noted. Core Logic can serve as the basis for a foundational program that could (...) be called Natural Logicism, an exposition of which will build on the (meta)logical ideas explained here. (shrink)
Emmy Noether’s many articles around the time that Felix Klein and David Hilbert were arranging her invitation to Göttingen include a short but brilliant note on invariants of finite groups highlighting her creativity and perspicacity in algebra. Contrary to the idea that Noether abandoned Paul Gordan’s style of mathematics for Hilbert’s, this note shows her combining them in a way she continued throughout her mature abstract algebra.
In the early 1900s, Russell began to recognize that he, and many other mathematicians, had been using assertions like the Axiom of Choice implicitly, and without explicitly proving them. In working with the Axioms of Choice, Infinity, and Reducibility, and his and Whitehead’s Multiplicative Axiom, Russell came to take the position that some axioms are necessary to recovering certain results of mathematics, but may not be proven to be true absolutely. The essay traces historical roots of, and motivations for, (...) Russell’s method of analysis, which are intended to shed light on his view about the status of mathematical axioms. I describe the position Russell develops in consequence as “immanent logicism,” in contrast to what Irving (1989) describes as “epistemic logicism.” Immanent logicism allows Russell to avoid the logocentric predicament, and to propose a method for discovering structural relationships of dependence within mathematical theories. (shrink)
Naturalism in Mathematics investigates how the most fundamental assumptions of mathematics can be justified. One prevalent philosophical approach to the problem--realism--is examined and rejected in favor of another approach--naturalism. Penelope Maddy defines this naturalism, explains the motivation for it, and shows how it can be successfully applied in set theory. Her clear, original treatment of this fundamental issue is informed by current work in both philosophy and mathematics, and will be accessible and enlightening to readers from both (...) disciplines. (shrink)
I argue that three main interpretations of the aim of Russell’s early logicism in The Principles of Mathematics (1903) are mistaken, and propose a new interpretation. According to this new interpretation, the aim of Russell’s logicism is to show, in opposition to Kant, that mathematical propositions have a certain sort of complete generality which entails that their truth is independent of space and time. I argue that on this interpretation two often-heard objections to Russell’s logicism, deriving (...) from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and from the non-logical character of some of the axioms of Principia Mathematica respectively, can be seen to be inconclusive. I then proceed to identify two challenges that Russell’s logicism, as presently construed, faces, but argue that these challenges do not appear unanswerable. (shrink)
Mathematicians tend to think of themselves as scientists investigating the features of real mathematical things, and the wildly successful application of mathematics in the physical sciences reinforces this picture of mathematics as an objective study. For philosophers, however, this realism about mathematics raises serious questions: What are mathematical things? Where are they? How do we know about them? Offering a scrupulously fair treatment of both mathematical and philosophical concerns, Penelope Maddy here delineates and defends a novel version (...) of mathematical realism. She answers the traditional questions and poses a challenging new one, refocusing philosophical attention on the pressing foundational issues of contemporary mathematics. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophy’s three main naturalisms are methodological, ontological and epistemological. Methodological naturalism states that the only authoritative standards are those of science. Ontological and epistemological naturalism respectively state that all entities and all valid methods of inquiry are in some sense natural. In philosophy of mathematics of the past few decades methodological naturalism has received the lion’s share of the attention, so we concentrate on this. Ontological and epistemological naturalism in the philosophy of mathematics are discussed more briefly (...) in section 6. (shrink)
David Hilbert’s early foundational views, especially those corresponding to the 1890s, are analysed here. I consider strong evidence for the fact that Hilbert was a logicist at that time, following upon Dedekind’s footsteps in his understanding of pure mathematics. This insight makes it possible to throw new light on the evolution of Hilbert’s foundational ideas, including his early contributions to the foundations of geometry and the real number system. The context of Dedekind-style logicism makes it possible to offer (...) a new analysis of the emergence of Hilbert’s famous ideas on mathematical existence, now seen as a revision of basic principles of the “naive logic” of sets. At the same time, careful scrutiny of his published and unpublished work around the turn of the century uncovers deep differences between his ideas about consistency proofs before and after 1904. Along the way, we cover topics such as the role of sets and of the dichotomic conception of set theory in Hilbert’s early axiomatics, and offer detailed analyses of Hilbert’s paradox and of his completeness axiom (Vollständigkeitsaxiom). (shrink)
In his “The Foundations of Mathematics”, Ramsey attempted to marry the Tractarian idea that all logical truths are tautologies and vice versa, and the logicism of the Principia. In order to complete his project, Ramsey was forced to introduce propositional functions in extension (PFEs): given Ramsey's definitions of 1 and 2, without PFEs even the quantifier-free arithmetical truth that 1 ≠ 2 is not a tautology. However, a number of commentators have argued that the notion of PFEs is (...) incoherent. This response was first given by Wittgenstein but has been best developed by Sullivan. While I agree with Wittgenstein and Sullivan's common conclusion, I believe that even the most compelling of Sullivan's arguments is importantly mistaken and that Wittgenstein's remarks are too opaque to be left as the end of the matter. In this article I uncover the fault in Sullivan's argument and present an alternative criticism of PFEs which is Wittgensteinian in spirit without being too mystifying. (shrink)
Several scholars have argued that Wittgenstein held the view that the notion of number is presupposed by the notion of one-one correlation, and that therefore Hume's principle is not a sound basis for a definition of number. I offer a new interpretation of the relevant fragments on philosophy of mathematics from Wittgenstein's Nachlass, showing that if different uses of ‘presupposition’ are understood in terms of de re and de dicto knowledge, Wittgenstein's argument against the Frege-Russell definition of number turns (...) out to be valid on its own terms, even though it depends on two epistemological principles logicist philosophers of mathematics may find too ‘constructivist’. (shrink)
The use of mathematics in economics has been widely discussed. The philosophical discussion on what mathematics is remains unsettled on why it can be applied to the study of the real world. We propose to get back to some philosophical conceptions that lead to a language-like role for the mathematical analysis of economic phenomena and present some problems of interest that can be better examined in this light. Category theory provides the appropriate tools for these analytical approach.
In this paper, we describe "metaphysical reductions", in which the well-defined terms and predicates of arbitrary mathematical theories are uniquely interpreted within an axiomatic, metaphysical theory of abstract objects. Once certain (constitutive) facts about a mathematical theory T have been added to the metaphysical theory of objects, theorems of the metaphysical theory yield both an analysis of the reference of the terms and predicates of T and an analysis of the truth of the sentences of T. The well-defined terms and (...) predicates of T are analyzed as denoting abstract objects and abstract relations, respectively, in the background metaphysics, and the sentences of T have a reading on which they are true. After the technical details are sketched, the paper concludes with some observations about the approach. One important observation concerns the fact that the proper axioms of the background theory abstract objects can be reformulated in a way that makes them sound more like logical axioms. Some philosophers have argued that we should accept (something like) them as being logical. (shrink)
A little over one hundred years ago , Frege wrote to Russell in the following terms1: I myself was long reluctant to recognize ranges of values and hence classes; but I saw no other possibility of placing arithmetic on a logical foundation. But the question is how do we apprehend logical objects? And I have found no other answer to it than this, We apprehend them as extensions of concepts, or more generally, as ranges of values of functions. I have (...) always been aware that there are difficulties connected with this, and your discovery of the contradiction has added to them; but what other way is there? (shrink)
The interaction between philosophy and mathematics has a long and well articulated history. The purpose of this note is to sketch three historical case studies that highlight and further illustrate some details concerning the relationship between the two: the interplay between mathematical and philosophical methods in ancient Greek thought; vagueness and the relation between mathematical logic and ordinary language; and the study of the notion of continuity.
Visual thinking -- visual imagination or perception of diagrams and symbol arrays, and mental operations on them -- is omnipresent in mathematics. Is this visual thinking merely a psychological aid, facilitating grasp of what is gathered by other means? Or does it also have epistemological functions, as a means of discovery, understanding, and even proof? By examining the many kinds of visual representation in mathematics and the diverse ways in which they are used, Marcus Giaquinto argues that visual (...) thinking in mathematics is rarely just a superfluous aid; it usually has epistemological value, often as a means of discovery. Drawing from philosophical work on the nature of concepts and from empirical studies of visual perception, mental imagery, and numerical cognition, Giaquinto explores a major source of our grasp of mathematics, using examples from basic geometry, arithmetic, algebra, and real analysis. He shows how we can discern abstract general truths by means of specific images, how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible, and how visual means can help us grasp abstract structures. Visual Thinking in Mathematics reopens the investigation of earlier thinkers from Plato to Kant into the nature and epistemology of an individual's basic mathematical beliefs and abilities, in the new light shed by the maturing cognitive sciences. Clear and concise throughout, it will appeal to scholars and students of philosophy, mathematics, and psychology, as well as anyone with an interest in mathematical thinking. (shrink)
The distinction between the discrete and the continuous lies at the heart of mathematics. Discrete mathematics (arithmetic, algebra, combinatorics, graph theory, cryptography, logic) has a set of concepts, techniques, and application areas largely distinct from continuous mathematics (traditional geometry, calculus, most of functional analysis, differential equations, topology). The interaction between the two – for example in computer models of continuous systems such as fluid flow – is a central issue in the applicable mathematics of the last (...) hundred years. This article explains the distinction and why it has proved to be one of the great organizing themes of mathematics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This paper explores the role of aesthetic judgements in mathematics by focussing on the relationship between the epistemic and aesthetic criteria employed in such judgements, and on the nature of the psychological experiences underpinning them. I claim that aesthetic judgements in mathematics are plausibly understood as expressions of what I will call ‘aesthetic-epistemic feelings’ that serve a genuine cognitive and epistemic function. I will then propose a naturalistic account of these feelings in terms of sub-personal processes of (...) representing and assessing the relation between cognitive processes and certain properties of the stimuli at which they are directed. (shrink)
Social revolutions--that is critical periods of decisive, qualitative change--are a commonly acknowledged historical fact. But can the idea of revolutionary upheaval be extended to the world of ideas and theoretical debate? The publication of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962 led to an exciting discussion of revolutions in the natural sciences. A fascinating, but little known, off-shoot of this was a debate which began in the United States in the mid-1970's as to whether the concept of revolution could (...) be applied to mathematics as well as science. Michael Grove declared that revolutions never occur in mathematics, while Joseph Dauben argued that there have been mathematical revolutions and gave some examples. This book is the first comprehensive examination of the question. It reprints the original papers of Grove, Dauben, and Mehrtens, together with additional chapters giving their current views. To this are added new contributions from nine further experts in the history of mathematics, who each discuss an important episode and consider whether it was a revolution. The whole question of mathematical revolutions is thus examined comprehensively and from a variety of perspectives. This thought-provoking volume will interest mathematicians, philosophers, and historians alike. (shrink)
This article looks at recent work in cognitive science on mathematical cognition from the perspective of history and philosophy of mathematical practice. The discussion is focused on the work of Lakoff and Núñez, because this is the first comprehensive account of mathematical cognition that also addresses advanced mathematics and its history. Building on a distinction between mathematics as it is presented in textbooks and as it presents itself to the researcher, it is argued that the focus of cognitive (...) analyses of historical developments of mathematics has been primarily on the former, even if they claim to be about the latter. (shrink)
This paper surveys central justifications and approaches adopted by educators interested in incorporating history of mathematics into mathematics teaching and learning. This interest itself has historical roots and different historical manifestations; these roots are examined as well in the paper. The paper also asks what it means for history of mathematics to be treated as genuine historical knowledge rather than a tool for teaching other kinds of mathematical knowledge. If, however, history of mathematics is not subordinated (...) to the ideas and methods at the heart of the usual mathematical curriculum – algebraic equations, functions, derivatives, analytic geometry – if it becomes an essential subject for mathematics, then the attempt to find a place for history of mathematics requires refining our understanding of the nature of mathematics education itself. Thus, the paper asks not only how can history of mathematics be incorporated into mathematics education but also how the idea of mathematics education may need to be adjusted to accommodate history. (shrink)
In the past century the received view of definition in mathematics has been the stipulative conception, according to which a definition merely stipulates the meaning of a term in other terms which are supposed to be already well known. The stipulative conception has been so absolutely dominant and accepted as unproblematic that the nature of definition has not been much discussed, yet it is inadequate. This paper examines its shortcomings and proposes an alternative, the heuristic conception.
In this paper, I argue that in spite of suggestions to the contrary, Merleau-Ponty defends a positive account of the kind of abstract thought involved in mathematics and natural science. More specifically, drawing on both the Phenomenology of Perception and his later writings, I show that, for Merleau-Ponty, abstract thought and perception stand in the two-way relation of “foundation,” according to which abstract thought makes what we perceive explicit and determinate, and what we perceive is made to appear by (...) abstract thought. I claim that, on Merleau-Ponty's view, although this process can sometimes lead to falsification, it can also be carried out in such a manner that allows mathematics and natural science to articulate what we perceive in a way that is non-distortive and in keeping with the demands of perception itself. (shrink)
These questions arise from any attempt to discover an epistemology for mathematics. This collection of essays considers various questions concerning the nature of justification in mathematics and possible sources of that justification. Among these are the question of whether mathematical justification is _a priori_ or _a posteriori_ in character, whether logical and mathematical differ, and if formalization plays a significant role in mathematical justification.