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"Clarifying the Nature of the Infinite": the development of metamathematics and proof theory
, 2001
"... We discuss the development of metamathematics in the Hilbert school, and Hilbert's prooftheoretic program in particular. We place this program in a broader historical and philosophical context, especially with respect to nineteenth century developments in mathematics and logic. Finally, we sho ..."
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We discuss the development of metamathematics in the Hilbert school, and Hilbert's prooftheoretic program in particular. We place this program in a broader historical and philosophical context, especially with respect to nineteenth century developments in mathematics and logic. Finally, we show how these considerations help frame our understanding of metamathematics and proof theory today.
Hilbert’s Program Then and Now
, 2005
"... Hilbert’s program is, in the first instance, a proposal and a research program in the philosophy and foundations of mathematics. It was formulated in the early 1920s by German mathematician David Hilbert (1862–1943), and was pursued by him and his collaborators at the University of Göttingen and els ..."
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Hilbert’s program is, in the first instance, a proposal and a research program in the philosophy and foundations of mathematics. It was formulated in the early 1920s by German mathematician David Hilbert (1862–1943), and was pursued by him and his collaborators at the University of Göttingen and elsewhere in the 1920s
The growth of mathematical knowledge: an open world view
 The growth of mathematical knowledge, Kluwer, Dordrecht 2000
"... mathematical knowledge: “The advance of science is not comparable to the changes of a city, where old edifices are pitilessly torn down to give place to new ones, but to the continuous evolution of zoological types which develop ceaselessly and end by becoming unrecognizable to the common sight, but ..."
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mathematical knowledge: “The advance of science is not comparable to the changes of a city, where old edifices are pitilessly torn down to give place to new ones, but to the continuous evolution of zoological types which develop ceaselessly and end by becoming unrecognizable to the common sight, but where an expert eye finds always traces of the prior work of the centuries past ” (Poincaré 1958, p. 14). The view criticized by Poincaré corresponds to Frege’s idea that the development of mathematics can be described as an activity of system building, where each system is supposed to provide a complete representation for a certain mathematical field and must be pitilessly torn down whenever it fails to achieve such an aim. All facts concerning any mathematical field must be fully organized in a given system because “in mathematics we must always strive after a system that is complete in itself ” (Frege 1979, p. 279). Frege is aware that systems introduce rigidity and are in conflict with the actual development of mathematics because “in history we have development; a system is static”, but he sticks
Loss of vision: How mathematics turned blind while it learned to see more clearly
 In B. Löwe and T. Müller (Eds.), Philosophy of Mathematics: Sociological Aspects and Mathematical Practice
, 2010
"... The aim of this paper is to provide a framework for the discussion of mathematical ontology that is rooted in actual mathematical practice, i.e., the way in which mathematicians have introduced and dealt with mathematical ..."
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The aim of this paper is to provide a framework for the discussion of mathematical ontology that is rooted in actual mathematical practice, i.e., the way in which mathematicians have introduced and dealt with mathematical
The Mathematical Infinite as a Matter of Method
, 2010
"... Abstract. I address the historical emergence of the mathematical infinite, and how we are to take the infinite in and out of mathematics. The thesis is that the mathematical infinite in mathematics is a matter of method. The infinite, of course, is a large topic. At the outset, one can historically ..."
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Abstract. I address the historical emergence of the mathematical infinite, and how we are to take the infinite in and out of mathematics. The thesis is that the mathematical infinite in mathematics is a matter of method. The infinite, of course, is a large topic. At the outset, one can historically discern two overlapping clusters of concepts: (1) wholeness, completeness, universality, absoluteness. (2) endlessness, boundlessness, indivisibility, continuousness. The first, the metaphysical infinite, I shall set aside. It is the second, the mathematical infinite, that I will address. Furthermore, I will address mathematical infinite by considering its historical emergence in set theory and how we are to take it in and out of mathematics. Insofar as physics and, more broadly, science deals with the mathematical infinite through mathematical language and techniques, my remarks should be subsuming and consequent. The main underlying point is that how the mathematical infinite is approached, assimilated, and applied in mathematics is not a matter of “ontological commitment”, of coming to terms with whatever that might mean, but rather of epistemological articulation, of coming to terms through knowledge. The mathematical infinite in mathematics is a matter of method. How we deal with the specific individual issues involving the infinite turns on the narrative we present about how it fits into methodological mathematical frameworks established and being established. The first section discusses the mathematical infinite in historical context, and the second, set theory and the emergence of the mathematical infinite. The third section discusses the infinite in and out of mathematics, and how it is to be taken. §1. The Infinite in Mathematics What role does the infinite play in modern mathematics? In modern mathematics, infinite sets abound both in the workings of proofs and as subject matter in statements, and so do universal statements, often of ∀ ∃ “for all there exists” form, which are indicative of direct engagement with the infinite. In many ways the role of the infinite is importantly “secondorder ” in the sense that Frege regarded number generally, in that the concepts of modern mathematics are understood as having infinite instances over a broad range. 1 But
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"... PARTIAL DEFENSE ABSTRACT. Various contributors to recent philosophy of mathematics have taken Richard Dedekind to be the founder of structuralism in mathematics. In this paper I examine whether Dedekind did, in fact, hold structuralist views and, insofar as that is the case, how they relate to the ..."
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PARTIAL DEFENSE ABSTRACT. Various contributors to recent philosophy of mathematics have taken Richard Dedekind to be the founder of structuralism in mathematics. In this paper I examine whether Dedekind did, in fact, hold structuralist views and, insofar as that is the case, how they relate to the main contemporary variants. In addition, I argue that his writings contain philosophical insights that are worth reexamining and reviving. The discussion focusses on Dedekind’s classic essay “Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?”, supplemented by evidence from “Stetigkeit und irrationale Zahlen”, his scientific correspondence, and his Nachlaß. 1.