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Cantor's Grundlagen and the Paradoxes of Set Theory
"... This paper was written in honor of Charles Parsons, from whom I have profited for many years in my study of the philosophy of mathematics and expect to continue profiting for many more years to come. In particular, listening to his lecture on "Sets and classes", published in [Parsons, 1974], motiva ..."
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This paper was written in honor of Charles Parsons, from whom I have profited for many years in my study of the philosophy of mathematics and expect to continue profiting for many more years to come. In particular, listening to his lecture on "Sets and classes", published in [Parsons, 1974], motivated my first attempts to understand proper classes and the realm of transfinite numbers. I read a version of the paper at the APA Central Division meeting in Chicago in May, 1998. I thank Howard Stein, who provided valuable criticisms of an earlier draft, ranging from the correction of spelling mistakes, through important historical remarks, to the correction of a mathematical mistake, and Patricia Blanchette, who commented on the paper at the APA meeting and raised two challenging points which have led to improvements in this final version
Gödel on Intuition and on Hilbert’s finitism
"... There are some puzzles about Gödel’s published and unpublished remarks concerning finitism that have led some commentators to believe that his conception of it was unstable, that he oscillated back and forth between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 con ..."
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There are some puzzles about Gödel’s published and unpublished remarks concerning finitism that have led some commentators to believe that his conception of it was unstable, that he oscillated back and forth between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, Gödel’s writings represent a smooth evolution, with just one rather small doublereversal, 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 [Gödel, 1938a] and the lecture notes for a lecture at Yale [Gödel, *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 firstorder number theory, P A; but starting in the Dialectica paper
In Defense of the Ideal 2nd DRAFT
"... This paper lies at the edge of the topic of the workshop. We can write down a Π1 1 axiom whose models are precisely the ∈structures 〈Rα, ∈ ∩R2 α〉 where α> 0 and Rα is the collection of all (pure) sets of rank < α. From this, one can consider the introduction of new axioms concerning the size of α. ..."
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This paper lies at the edge of the topic of the workshop. We can write down a Π1 1 axiom whose models are precisely the ∈structures 〈Rα, ∈ ∩R2 α〉 where α> 0 and Rα is the collection of all (pure) sets of rank < α. From this, one can consider the introduction of new axioms concerning the size of α. The question of the grounds for doing so is perhaps the central question of the workshop. But I want to discuss another question which, as I said, arises at the periphery: How do we know that there are structures 〈Rα, ∈ ∩R2 α〉? How do we know that there exist such things as sets and how do we know that, given such things, the axioms we write down are true of them? These seem very primitive questions, but the skepticism implicit in them has deep (and ancient) roots. In particular, they are questions about ideal objects in general, and not just about the actual infinite. I want to explain why I think the questions (as intended) are empty and the skepticism unfounded. 1 I will be expanding the argument of the first part of my paper “Proof and truth: the Platonism of mathematics”[1986a]. 2 The argument in question