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**1 - 3**of**3**### A reprint from American Scientist the magazine of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

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### Mathematical Scepticism: the Debate between Hobbes and Wallis

"... Introduction The label "mathematical scepticism" was coined in Floridi [1998] to refer to the body of sceptical arguments developed against mathematical knowledge, its methodology and nature (e.g. its certainty, reliability, necessity etc.), and hence to a sceptical philosophy of mathemat ..."

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Introduction The label "mathematical scepticism" was coined in Floridi [1998] to refer to the body of sceptical arguments developed against mathematical knowledge, its methodology and nature (e.g. its certainty, reliability, necessity etc.), and hence to a sceptical philosophy of mathematics, not to some form of "mathematised" scepticism. Little is known about mathematical scepticism in modern times. Imre Lakatos once remarked that "in discussing modern efforts to establish foundations for mathematical knowledge one tends to forget that these are but a chapter in the great effort to overcome scepticism by establishing foundations for knowledge in general" (Lakatos [1978], 4). And in a sense he was clearly right: modern thought---with its new discoveries in mathematical sciences, the mathematisation of physics, the spreading of sceptical doctrines, the centrality of epistemological foundationalism, the diffusion of the geometrical method in philosophy and the foundationalist cris

### Foolproof

"... Mathematical proof is foolproof, it seems, only in the absence of fools I was a teenage angle trisector. In my first full-time job, fresh out of high school, I trisected angles all day long for $1.75 an hour. My employer was a maker of voltmeters, ammeters and other electrical instruments. This was ..."

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Mathematical proof is foolproof, it seems, only in the absence of fools I was a teenage angle trisector. In my first full-time job, fresh out of high school, I trisected angles all day long for $1.75 an hour. My employer was a maker of voltmeters, ammeters and other electrical instruments. This was back in the analog age, when a meter had a slender pointer swinging in an arc across a scale. My job was drawing the scale. A technician would calibrate