An observation and a thesis: The observation is that, whatever the connection between Kant’s philosophy and Hilbert’s conception of finitism, Kant’s account of geometric reasoning shares an essential idea with the account of finitist number theory in “Finitism”, namely the idea of constructions f from ‘arbitrary’ or ‘generic’ objects of various types. The thesis is that, contrary to a substantial part of contemporary literature on the subject, when Kant referred to number and arithmetic, he was not referring to the natural (...) or whole numbers and their arithmetic, but rather to the real numbers and their arithmetic. (shrink)
The last section of “Lecture at Zilsel’s” [9, §4] contains an interesting but quite condensed discussion of Gentzen’s ﬁrst version of his consistency proof for P A , reformulating it as what has come to be called the no-counterexample interpretation. I will describe Gentzen’s result (in game-theoretic terms), ﬁll in the details (with some corrections) of Godel's reformulation, and discuss the relation between the two proofs.
Restricted to ﬁrst-order formulas, the rules of inference in the Curry-Howard type theory are equivalent to those of ﬁrst-order predicate logic as formalized by Heyting, with one exception: ∃-elimination in the Curry-Howard theory, where ∃x : A.F (x) is understood as disjoint union, are the projections, and these do not preserve ﬁrstorderedness. This note shows, however, that the Curry-Howard theory is conservative over Heyting’s system.
There are some puzzles about G¨ odel’s published and unpublished remarks concerning finitism that have led some commentators to believe that his conception of it was unstable, that he oscillated back and forth between different accounts of it. I want to discuss these puzzles and argue that, on the contrary, G¨ odel’s writings represent a smooth evolution, with just one rather small double-reversal, of his view of finitism. He used the term “finit” (in German) or “finitary” or “finitistic” primarily to (...) refer to Hilbert’s conception of finitary mathematics. On two occasions (only, as far as I know), the lecture notes for his lecture at Zilsel’s [G¨ odel, 1938a] and the lecture notes for a lecture at Yale [G¨ odel, *1941], he used it in a way that he knew—in the second case, explicitly—went beyond what Hilbert meant. Early in his career, he believed that finitism (in Hilbert’s sense) is openended, in the sense that no correct formal system can be known to formalize all finitist proofs and, in particular, all possible finitist proofs of consistency of first-order number theory, P A; but starting in the Dialectica paper.. (shrink)
This paper contains a defense against anti-realism in mathematics in the light both of incompleteness and of the fact that mathematics is a ‘cultural artifact.’. Anti-realism (here) is the view that theorems, say, of aritltmetic cannot be taken at face value to express true propositions about the system of numbers but must be reconstrued to be about somctliiiig else or about nothing at all. A ‘bite-the-bullet’ aspect of the defease is that, adopting new axioms, liitherto independent, is not. a matter (...) of recognizing trutlis wliich had previoasly been unrecognized, but of extending the domain of what is true. (shrink)