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Does category theory provide a framework for mathematical structuralism?
 PHILOSOPHIA MATHEMATICA
, 2003
"... Category theory and topos theory have been seen as providing a structuralist framework for mathematics autonomous vis à vis set theory. It is argued here that these theories require a background logic of relations and substantive assumptions addressing mathematical existence of categories themselves ..."
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Category theory and topos theory have been seen as providing a structuralist framework for mathematics autonomous vis à vis set theory. It is argued here that these theories require a background logic of relations and substantive assumptions addressing mathematical existence of categories themselves. We propose a synthesis of Bell’s “manytopoi” view and modalstructuralism. Surprisingly, a combination of mereology and plural quantification suffices to describe hypothetical large domains, recovering the Grothendieck method of universes. Both topos theory and set theory can be carried out relative to such domains; puzzles about “large categories ” and “proper classes ” are handled in a
Russell’s Absolutism vs.(?)
"... Along with Frege, Russell maintained an absolutist stance regarding the subject matter of mathematics, revealed rather than imposed, or proposed, by logical analysis. The Fregean definition of cardinal number, for example, is viewed as (essentially) correct, not merely adequate for mathematics. And ..."
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Along with Frege, Russell maintained an absolutist stance regarding the subject matter of mathematics, revealed rather than imposed, or proposed, by logical analysis. The Fregean definition of cardinal number, for example, is viewed as (essentially) correct, not merely adequate for mathematics. And Dedekind’s “structuralist” views come in for criticism in the Principles. But, on reflection, Russell also flirted with views very close to a (different) version of structuralism. Main varieties of modern structuralism and their challenges are reviewed, taking account of Russell’s insights. Problems of absolutism plague some versions, and, interestingly, Russell’s critique of Dedekind can be extended to one of them, ante rem structuralism. This leaves modalstructuralism and a category theoretic approach as remaining nonabsolutist