This massive two-volume reference presents a comprehensive selection of the most important works on the foundations of mathematics. While the volumes include important forerunners like Berkeley, MacLaurin, and D'Alembert, as well as such followers as Hilbert and Bourbaki, their emphasis is on the mathematical and philosophical developments of the nineteenth century. Besides reproducing reliable English translations of classics works by Bolzano, Riemann, Hamilton, Dedekind, and Poincare, William Ewald also includes selections from Gauss, Cantor, Kronecker, and Zermelo, all translated here (...) for the first time. (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)
Here, Bob Hale and Crispin Wright assemble the key writings that lead to their distinctive neo-Fregean approach to the philosophy of mathematics. In addition to fourteen previously published papers, the volume features a new paper on the Julius Caesar problem; a substantial new introduction mapping out the program and the contributions made to it by the various papers; a section explaining which issues most require further attention; and bibliographies of references and further useful sources. It will be recognized as (...) the most powerful presentation yet of a neo-Fregean program. (shrink)
This book expounds a system of ideas about the nature of mathematics which Michael Resnik has been elaborating for a number of years. In calling mathematics a science he implies that it has a factual subject-matter and that mathematical knowledge is on a par with other scientific knowledge; in calling it a science of patterns he expresses his commitment to a structuralist philosophy of mathematics. He links this to a defense of realism about the metaphysics of (...) class='Hi'>mathematics--the view that mathematics is about things that really exist. (shrink)
Do numbers, sets, and so forth, exist? What do mathematical statements mean? Are they literally true or false, or do they lack truth values altogether? Addressing questions that have attracted lively debate in recent years, Stewart Shapiro contends that standard realist and antirealist accounts of mathematics are both problematic. As Benacerraf first noted, we are confronted with the following powerful dilemma. The desired continuity between mathematical and, say, scientific language suggests realism, but realism in this context suggests seemingly intractable (...) epistemic problems. As a way out of this dilemma, Shapiro articulates a structuralist approach. On this view, the subject matter of arithmetic, for example, is not a fixed domain of numbers independent of each other, but rather is the natural number structure, the pattern common to any system of objects that has an initial object and successor relation satisfying the induction principle. Using this framework, realism in mathematics can be preserved without troublesome epistemic consequences. Shapiro concludes by showing how a structuralist approach can be applied to wider philosophical questions such as the nature of an "object" and the Quinean nature of ontological commitment. Clear, compelling, and tautly argued, Shapiro's work, noteworthy both in its attempt to develop a full-length structuralist approach to mathematics and to trace its emergence in the history of mathematics, will be of deep interest to both philosophers and mathematicians. (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)
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)
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)
It is commonly suggested that evolutionary considerations generate an epistemological challenge for moral realism. At first approximation, the challenge for the moral realist is to explain our having many true moral beliefs, given that those beliefs are the products of evolutionary forces that would be indifferent to the moral truth. An important question surrounding this challenge is the extent to which it generalizes. In particular, it is of interest whether the Evolutionary Challenge for moral realism is equally a challenge for (...) mathematical realism. It is widely thought not to be. In this paper, I argue that the Evolutionary Challenge for moral realism is equally a challenge for mathematical realism. Along the way, I substantially clarify the Evolutionary Challenge, discuss its relation to more familiar epistemological challenges, and broach a number of foundational issues in metaphysics. The paper should be of interest to ethicists because it places pressure on anyone who rejects moral realism on the basis of the Evolutionary Challenge to reject mathematical realism as well. And the paper should be of interest to philosophers of mathematics because it presents a new epistemological challenge for mathematical realism that bears, I argue, no simple relation to Paul Benacerraf's familiar challenge. (shrink)
In recent years, philosophical work directly concerned with the practice of mathematics has intensified, giving rise to a movement known as the philosophy of mathematical practice . In this paper we offer a survey of this movement aimed at mathematics educators. We first describe the core questions philosophers of mathematical practice investigate as well as the philosophical methods they use to tackle them. We then provide a selective overview of work in the philosophy of mathematical practice covering topics (...) including the distinction between formal and informal proofs, visualization and artefacts, mathematical explanation and understanding, value judgments, and mathematical design. We conclude with some remarks on the potential connections between the philosophy of mathematical practice and mathematics education. (shrink)
In the present paper, I go beyond these examples by bringing into play an example that I nd more experimental in nature, namely that of the use of the so-called PSLQ algorithm in researching integer relations between numerical constants. It is the purpose of this paper to combine a historical presentation with a preliminary exploration of some philosophical aspects of the notion of experiment in experimental mathematics. This dual goal will be sought by analysing these aspects as they are (...) presented by some of the protagonists of the eld and discussing them using notions from contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze explores the manner by means of which concepts are implicated in the problematic Idea by using a mathematics problem as an example, the elements of which are the differentials of the differential calculus. What I would like to offer in the present paper is a historical account of the mathematical problematic that Deleuze deploys in his philosophy, and an introduction to the role played by this problematic in the development of his philosophy of difference. (...) One of the points of departure that I will take from the history of mathematics is the theme of ‘power series’ (Deleuze 1994, 114), which will involve a detailed elaboration of the mechanism by means of which power series operate in the differential calculus deployed by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition. Deleuze actually constructs an alternative history of mathematics that establishes a historical continuity between the differential point of view of the infinitesimal calculus and modern theories of the differential calculus. It is in relation to this differential point of view that Deleuze determines a differential logic which he deploys, in the form of a logic of different/ciation, in the development of his project of constructing a philosophy of difference. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the distinction between methods which are mathematically "clever", and those which are simply crude, typically repetitive and computer intensive, approaches for "crunching" out answers to problems. Examples of the latter include simulated probability distributions and resampling methods in statistics, and iterative methods for solving equations or optimisation problems. Most of these methods require software support, but this is easily provided by a PC. The paper argues that the crunchier methods often have substantial advantages from the perspectives (...) of user-friendliness, reliability (in the sense that misuse is less likely), educational efficiency and realism. This means that they offer very considerable potential for simplifying the mathematical syllabus underlying many areas of applied mathematics such as management science and statistics: crunchier methods can provide the same, or greater, technical power, flexibility and insight, while requiring only a fraction of the mathematical conceptual background needed by their cleverer brethren. (shrink)
In order to address to the relation between philosophy and mathematics it is first necessary to distinguish the grand style and the little style. The little style painstakingly constructs mathematics as the object for philosophical scrutiny. It is called the little style for a precise reason, because it assigns mathematics to the subservient role of that which supports the definition and perpetuation of a philosophical specialisation. This specialisation is called the ‘philosophy of mathematics’, where the ‘of’ (...) is objective. The philosophy of mathematics can in turn be inscribed under the area of specialisation that supports the name ‘epistemology and history of science’, an area to which corresponds a specialised bureaucracy in the academic authorities and committees whose role it is to manage the personnel of researchers and teachers. But in philosophy, specialisation is invariably the means by which the little style insinuates itself. In Lacan terms, this occurs through the collapse of the discourse of the Master, which is rooted in the signifier of the same name, the S1 that gives rise to a signifying chain, onto the discourse of the University, that perpetual commentary which adequately represents the second moment of all speech, that is, the S2 which only exists by making the Master disappear under the commentary which exhausts it. The little style of the philosophy of mathematics, and of its epistemology, strives for such a disappearance of the ontological sovereignty of mathematics, its instituting aristocratism, its unrivalled mastery, by confining its dramatic and almost incomprehensible existence to a generally dusty compartment of academic specialisation. (shrink)
The collection Virtual Mathematics: the logic of difference brings together a range of new philosophical engagements with mathematics, using the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze as its focus. Deleuze’s engagements with mathematics rely upon the construction of alternative lineages in the history of mathematics in order to reconfigure particular philosophical problems and to develop new concepts. These alternative conceptual histories also challenge some of the self-imposed limits of the discipline of mathematics, and suggest the (...) possibility of forging new connections between philosophy and more recent developments in mathematics. This component of Deleuze’s work has, to date, been rather neglected by commentators working in the field of Deleuze studies. One of the aims of this collection is to address this critical deficit by providing a philosophical presentation of Deleuze’s relation to mathematics; one that is adequate to his project of constructing a philosophy of difference and to the exploration of some of its applications. This project developed as a result of encounters with an increasing number of researchers who have been working on the mathematical aspects of Deleuze’s work and the key role that these play in his philosophy. By bringing this work together for the first time, this collection makes an important contribution to the emerging body of work that endeavours to explore the broad range of Deleuze’s philosophy. (shrink)
It is possible today to observe in hindsight the epistemological landscape of the twentieth century, and the work of Albert Lautman in mathematical philosophy appears as a profound turning point, opening to a true under- standing of creativity in mathematics and its relation with the real. Little understood in its time or even today, Lautman’s work explores the difficult but exciting intersection where modern mathematics, advanced mathe- matical invention, the structural or unitary relations of mathematical knowledge and, finally, (...) the metaphysical and dialectical tensions underly- ing mathematical activity converge. Well beyond other better-known names in philosophy of mathematics – who are focused above all on ques- tions concerning the logical problem of foundations, important but frag- mentary studies in the vast panorama of modern mathematics – Lautman broaches the emergence of inventiveness in the very broad spectrum of the development of the mathematical real. Group theory, differential geome- try, algebraic topology, differential equations, functional analysis, functions of complex variables and number fields are some of the domains of his preferred examples. He detects in them methods of construction, structu- ration and unification of modern mathematics that he connects to a precise Platonic interpretation in which powerful pairs of ideas serve to organize the edifice of effective mathematics. (shrink)
A common analysis of Edmund Husserl’s early works on the philosophy of logic and mathematics presents these writings as the result of a combination of two distinct strands of influence: on the one hand a mathematical influence due to his teachers is Berlin, such as Karl Weierstrass, and on the other hand a philosophical influence due to his later studies in Vienna with Franz Brentano. However, the formative influences on Husserl’s early philosophy cannot be so cleanly separated into a (...) philosophical and a mathematical pathway. Growing evidence indicates that a Brentanist philosophy of mathematics was already in place before Husserl. Rather than an original combination at the confluence of two different streams, his early writings represent an elaboration of topics and problems that were already being discussed in the School of Brentano within a pre-existing framework. The traditional account understandably neglects Brentano’s own work on the philosophy of mathematics and logic, which can be found mostly in his unpublished manuscripts and lectures, and various works by Brentano’s students on the philosophy of mathematics which have only recently emerged from obscurity. Husserl’s early works must be correctly placed in this preceding context in order to be fully understood and correctly assessed. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. The paper compares the views of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) on mathematics around the turn of the century. The two share a view that mathematics is an independent and theoretical discipline. Both think that it is something unrelated to how we actually think, and hence independent of psychology. For both, mathematics reveals the objective and formal structure of the world, and both think that modern mathematics is a Platonist enterprise. Husserl and (...) Peirce also share a teleological conception of the development of mathematics: both view it to evolve towards a goal. This is where the primary difference between the two can be found: while for Husserl the goal of mathematics is to characterize definite manifolds, for Peirce it is to discover the real potential world as expressed by his conception of continuum. Peirce elaborates the continuum with the notion ‘potential aggregate,’ a totality of the series of uncountable sets (each created by Cantor’s theorem) briefly discussed and compared to Husserl’s notion of definite manifolds. (shrink)
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)
Challenging the myth that mathematical objects can be defined into existence, Bigelow here employs Armstrong's metaphysical materialism to cast new light on mathematics. He identifies natural, real, and imaginary numbers and sets with specified physical properties and relations and, by so doing, draws mathematics back from its sterile, abstract exile into the midst of the physical world.
Mary Leng defends a philosophical account of the nature of mathematics which views it as a kind of fiction. On this view, the claims of our ordinary mathematical theories are more closely analogous to utterances made in the context of storytelling than to utterances whose aim is to assert literal truths.
Ethics and mathematics have long invited comparisons. On the one hand, both ethical and mathematical propositions can appear to be knowable a priori, if knowable at all. On the other hand, mathematical propositions seem to admit of proof, and to enter into empirical scientific theories, in a way that ethical propositions do not. In this article, I discuss apparent similarities and differences between ethical (i.e., moral) and mathematical knowledge, realistically construed -- i.e., construed as independent of human mind and (...) languages. I argue that some are are merely apparent, while others are of little consequence. There is a difference between the cases. But it is not an epistemological difference per se. The difference, surprisingly, is that ethical knowledge, if it is practical, cannot fail to be objective in a way that factual knowledge can. One upshot of the discussion is radicalization of Moore’s Open Question Argument. Another is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension. (shrink)
An Aristotelian Philosophy of Mathematics breaks the impasse between Platonist and nominalist views of mathematics. Neither a study of abstract objects nor a mere language or logic, mathematics is a science of real aspects of the world as much as biology is. For the first time, a philosophy of mathematics puts applied mathematics at the centre. Quantitative aspects of the world such as ratios of heights, and structural ones such as symmetry and continuity, are parts (...) of the physical world and are objects of mathematics. Though some mathematical structures such as infinities may be too big to be realized in fact, all of them are capable of being realized. Informed by the author's background in both philosophy and mathematics, but keeping to simple examples, the book shows how infant perception of patterns is extended by visualization and proof to the vast edifice of modern pure and applied mathematical knowledge. (shrink)
Published in 1903, this book was the first comprehensive treatise on the logical foundations of mathematics written in English. It sets forth, as far as possible without mathematical and logical symbolism, the grounds in favour of the view that mathematics and logic are identical. It proposes simply that what is commonly called mathematics are merely later deductions from logical premises. It provided the thesis for which _Principia Mathematica_ provided the detailed proof, and introduced the work of Frege (...) to a wider audience. In addition to the new introduction by John Slater, this edition contains Russell's introduction to the 1937 edition in which he defends his position against his formalist and intuitionist critics. (shrink)
The human attempts to access, measure and organize physical phenomena have led to a manifold construction of mathematical and physical spaces. We will survey the evolution of geometries from Euclid to the Algebraic Geometry of the 20th century. The role of Persian/Arabic Algebra in this transition and its Western symbolic development is emphasized. In this relation, we will also discuss changes in the ontological attitudes toward mathematics and its applications. Historically, the encounter of geometric and algebraic perspectives enriched the (...) mathematical practices and their foundations. Yet, the collapse of Euclidean certitudes, of over 2300 years, and the crisis in the mathematical analysis of the 19th century, led to the exclusion of “geometric judgments” from the foundations of Mathematics. After the success and the limits of the logico-formal analysis, it is necessary to broaden our foundational tools and re-examine the interactions with natural sciences. In particular, the way the geometric and algebraic approaches organize knowledge is analyzed as a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural issue and will be examined in Mathematical Physics and Biology. We finally discuss how the current notions of mathematical (phase) “space” should be revisited for the purposes of life sciences. (shrink)
This unique book by Stewart Shapiro looks at a range of philosophical issues and positions concerning mathematics in four comprehensive sections. Part I describes questions and issues about mathematics that have motivated philosophers since the beginning of intellectual history. Part II is an historical survey, discussing the role of mathematics in the thought of such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Mill. Part III covers the three major positions held throughout the twentieth century: the idea that (...) class='Hi'>mathematics is logic (logicism), the view that the essence of mathematics is the rule-governed manipulation of characters (formalism), and a revisionist philosophy that focuses on the mental activity of mathematics (intuitionism). Finally, Part IV brings the reader up-to-date with a look at contemporary developments within the discipline. This sweeping introductory guide to the philosophy of mathematics makes these fascinating concepts accessible to those with little background in either mathematics or philosophy. (shrink)
We explore the prospects of a monist account of explanation for both non-causal explanations in science and pure mathematics. Our starting point is the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) for explanations in science, as advocated in the recent literature on explanation. We argue that, despite the obvious differences between mathematical and scientific explanation, the CTE can be extended to cover both non-causal explanations in science and mathematical explanations. In particular, a successful application of the CTE to mathematical explanations requires (...) us to rely on counterpossibles. We conclude that the CTE is a promising candidate for a monist account of explanation in both science and mathematics. (shrink)
I claim that a relatively new position in philosophy of mathematics, pluralism, overlaps in striking ways with the much older Jain doctrine of anekantavada and the associated doctrines of nyayavada and syadvada. I first outline the pluralist position, following this with a sketch of the Jain doctrine of anekantavada. I then note the srrong points of overlaps and the morals of this comparison of pluralism and anekantavada.
This paper is concerned with counterfactual logic and its implications for the modal status of mathematical claims. It is most directly a response to an ambitious program by Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne (2018), who seek to establish that mathematics is committed to its own necessity. I claim that their argument fails to establish this result for two reasons. First, their assumptions force our hand on a controversial debate within counterfactual logic. In particular, they license counterfactual strengthening— the inference from ‘If (...) A were true then C would be true’ to ‘If A and B were true then C would be true’—which many reject. Second, the system they develop is provably equivalent to appending Deduction Theorem to a T modal logic. It is unsurprising that the combination of Deduction Theorem with T results in necessitation; indeed, it is precisely for this reason that many logicians reject Deduction Theorem in modal contexts. If Deduction Theorem is unacceptable for modal logic, it cannot be assumed to derive the necessity of mathematics. (shrink)
From Brouwer To Hilbert: The Debate on the Foundations of Mathematics in the 1920s offers the first comprehensive introduction to the most exciting period in the foundation of mathematics in the twentieth century. The 1920s witnessed the seminal foundational work of Hilbert and Bernays in proof theory, Brouwer's refinement of intuitionistic mathematics, and Weyl's predicativist approach to the foundations of analysis. This impressive collection makes available the first English translations of twenty-five central articles by these important contributors (...) and many others. The articles have been translated for the first time from Dutch, French, and German, and the volume is divided into four sections devoted to (1) Brouwer, (2) Weyl, (3) Bernays and Hilbert, and (4) the emergence of intuitionistic logic. Each section opens with an introduction which provides the necessary historical and technical context for understanding the articles. Although most contemporary work in this field takes its start from the groundbreaking contributions of these major figures, a good, scholarly introduction to the area was not available until now. Unique and accessible, From Brouwer To Hilbert will serve as an ideal text for undergraduate and graduate courses in the philosophy of mathematics, and will also be an invaluable resource for philosophers, mathematicians, and interested non-specialists. (shrink)
The seventeenth century saw dramatic advances in mathematical theory and practice. With the recovery of many of the classical Greek mathematical texts, new techniques were introduced, and within 100 years, the rules of analytic geometry, geometry of indivisibles, arithmatic of infinites, and calculus were developed. Although many technical studies have been devoted to these innovations, Mancosu provides the first comprehensive account of the relationship between mathematical advances of the seventeenth century and the philosophy of mathematics of the period. Starting (...) with the Renaissance debates on the certainty of mathematics, Mancosu leads the reader through the foundational issues raised by the emergence of these new mathematical techniques, including the influence of the Aristotelian conception of science in Cavalieri and Guldin, the foundational relevance of Descartes' Geometrie, the relation between geometrical and epistemological theories of the infinite, and the Leibnizian calculus and the opposition to infinitesimalist procedures. In the process Mancosu draws a sophisticated picture of the subtle dependencies between technical development and philosophical reflection in seventeenth century mathematics. (shrink)
In this ambitious study, David Corfield attacks the widely held view that it is the nature of mathematical knowledge which has shaped the way in which mathematics is treated philosophically and claims that contingent factors have brought us to the present thematically limited discipline. Illustrating his discussion with a wealth of examples, he sets out a variety of approaches to new thinking about the philosophy of mathematics, ranging from an exploration of whether computers producing mathematical proofs or conjectures (...) are doing real mathematics, to the use of analogy, the prospects for a Bayesian confirmation theory, the notion of a mathematical research programme and the ways in which new concepts are justified. His inspiring book challenges both philosophers and mathematicians to develop the broadest and richest philosophical resources for work in their disciplines and points clearly to the ways in which this can be done. (shrink)
This book, written by one of philosophy's pre-eminent logicians, argues that many of the basic assumptions common to logic, philosophy of mathematics and metaphysics are in need of change. It is therefore a book of critical importance to logical theory. Jaakko Hintikka proposes a new basic first-order logic and uses it to explore the foundations of mathematics. This new logic enables logicians to express on the first-order level such concepts as equicardinality, infinity, and truth in the same language. (...) The famous impossibility results by Gödel and Tarski that have dominated the field for the last sixty years turn out to be much less significant than has been thought. All of ordinary mathematics can in principle be done on this first-order level, thus dispensing with the existence of sets and other higher-order entities. (shrink)
One of the most intriguing features of mathematics is its applicability to empirical science. Every branch of science draws upon large and often diverse portions of mathematics, from the use of Hilbert spaces in quantum mechanics to the use of differential geometry in general relativity. It's not just the physical sciences that avail themselves of the services of mathematics either. Biology, for instance, makes extensive use of difference equations and statistics. The roles mathematics plays in these (...) theories is also varied. Not only does mathematics help with empirical predictions, it allows elegant and economical statement of many theories. Indeed, so important is the language of mathematics to science, that it is hard to imagine how theories such as quantum mechanics and general relativity could even be stated without employing a substantial amount of mathematics. (shrink)
Platonism is the most pervasive philosophy of mathematics. Indeed, it can be argued that an inarticulate, half-conscious Platonism is nearly universal among mathematicians. The basic idea is that mathematical entities exist outside space and time, outside thought and matter, in an abstract realm. In the more eloquent words of Edward Everett, a distinguished nineteenth-century American scholar, "in pure mathematics we contemplate absolute truths which existed in the divine mind before the morning stars sang together, and which will continue (...) to exist there when the last of their radiant host shall have fallen from heaven." In What is Mathematics, Really?, renowned mathematician Rueben Hersh takes these eloquent words and this pervasive philosophy to task, in a subversive attack on traditional philosophies of mathematics, most notably, Platonism and formalism. Virtually all philosophers of mathematics treat it as isolated, timeless, ahistorical, inhuman. Hersh argues the contrary, that mathematics must be understood as a human activity, a social phenomenon, part of human culture, historically evolved, and intelligible only in a social context. Mathematical objects are created by humans, not arbitrarily, but from activity with existing mathematical objects, and from the needs of science and daily life. Hersh pulls the screen back to reveal mathematics as seen by professionals, debunking many mathematical myths, and demonstrating how the "humanist" idea of the nature of mathematics more closely resembles how mathematicians actually work. At the heart of the book is a fascinating historical account of the mainstream of philosophy--ranging from Pythagoras, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant, to Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert, Rudolph Carnap, and Willard V.O. Quine--followed by the mavericks who saw mathematics as a human artifact, including Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Mill, Peirce, Dewey, and Lakatos. In his epilogue, Hersh reveals that this is no mere armchair debate, of little consequence to the outside world. He contends that Platonism and elitism fit well together, that Platonism in fact is used to justify the claim that "some people just can't learn math." The humanist philosophy, on the other hand, links mathematics with geople, with society, and with history. It fits with liberal anti-elitism and its historical striving for universal literacy, universal higher education, and universal access to knowledge and culture. Thus Hersh's argument has educational and political ramifications. Written by the co-author of The Mathematical Experience, which won the American Book Award in 1983, this volume reflects an insider's view of mathematical life, based on twenty years of doing research on advanced mathematical problems, thirty-five years of teaching graduates and undergraduates, and many long hours of listening, talking to, and reading philosophers. A clearly written and highly iconoclastic book, it is sure to be hotly debated by anyone with a passionate interest in mathematics or the philosophy of science. (shrink)
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)
Professor Hilary Putnam has been one of the most influential and sharply original of recent American philosophers in a whole range of fields. His most important published work is collected here, together with several new and substantial studies, in two volumes. The first deals with the philosophy of mathematics and of science and the nature of philosophical and scientific enquiry; the second deals with the philosophy of language and mind. Volume one is now issued in a new edition, including (...) an essay on the philosophy of logic first published in 1971. (shrink)
Some have argued for a division of epistemic labor in which mathematicians supply truths and philosophers supply their necessity. We argue that this is wrong: mathematics is committed to its own necessity. Counterfactuals play a starring role.
Offering a collection of fifteen essays that deal with issues at the intersection of phenomenology, logic, and the philosophy of mathematics, this 2005 book is divided into three parts. Part I contains a general essay on Husserl's conception of science and logic, an essay of mathematics and transcendental phenomenology, and an essay on phenomenology and modern pure geometry. Part II is focused on Kurt Godel's interest in phenomenology. It explores Godel's ideas and also some work of Quine, Penelope (...) Maddy and Roger Penrose. Part III deals with elementary, constructive areas of mathematics. These are areas of mathematics that are closer to their origins in simple cognitive activities and in everyday experience. This part of the book contains essays on intuitionism, Hermann Weyl, the notion of constructive proof, Poincaré and Frege. (shrink)
How far should our realism extend? For many years philosophers of mathematics and philosophers of ethics have worked independently to address the question of how best to understand the entities apparently referred to by mathematical and ethical talk. But the similarities between their endeavours are not often emphasised. This book provides that emphasis. In particular, it focuses on two types of argumentative strategies that have been deployed in both areas. The first—debunking arguments—aims to put pressure on realism by emphasising (...) the seeming redundancy of mathematical or moral entities when it comes to explaining our judgements. In the moral realm this challenge has been made by Gilbert Harman and Sharon Street; in the mathematical realm it is known as the 'Benacerraf-Field' problem. The second strategy—indispensability arguments—aims to provide support for realism by emphasising the seeming intellectual indispensability of mathematical or moral entities, for example when constructing good explanatory theories. This strategy is associated with Quine and Putnam in mathematics and with Nicholas Sturgeon and David Enoch in ethics. Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics addresses these issues through an explicitly comparative methodology which we call the 'companions in illumination' approach. By considering how argumentative strategies in the philosophy of mathematics might apply to the philosophy of ethics, and vice versa, the papers collected here break new ground in both areas. For good measure, two further companions for illumination are also broached: the philosophy of chance and the philosophy of religion. Collectively, these comparisons light up new questions, arguments, and problems of interest to scholars interested in realism in any area. (shrink)
First published in 1974. Despite the tendency of contemporary analytic philosophy to put logic and mathematics at a central position, the author argues it failed to appreciate or account for their rich content. Through discussions of such mathematical concepts as number, the continuum, set, proof and mechanical procedure, the author provides an introduction to the philosophy of mathematics and an internal criticism of the then current academic philosophy. The material presented is also an illustration of a new, more (...) general method of approach called substantial factualism which the author asserts allows for the development of a more comprehensive philosophical position by not trivialising or distorting substantial facts of human knowledge. (shrink)
Otávio Bueno* * and Steven French.** ** Applying Mathematics: Immersion, Inference, Interpretation. Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-19-881504-4 978-0-19-185286-2. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198815044. 001.0001. Pp. xvii + 257.
This is an introduction to, and survey of, the constructive approaches to pure mathematics. The authors emphasise the viewpoint of Errett Bishop's school, but intuitionism. Russian constructivism and recursive analysis are also treated, with comparisons between the various approaches included where appropriate. Constructive mathematics is now enjoying a revival, with interest from not only logicans but also category theorists, recursive function theorists and theoretical computer scientists. This account for non-specialists in these and other disciplines.