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What does it mean to say that logic is formal?
, 2000
"... Much philosophy of logic is shaped, explicitly or implicitly, by the thought that logic is distinctively formal and abstracts from material content. The distinction between formal and material does not appear to coincide with the more familiar contrasts between a priori and empirical, necessary and ..."
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Much philosophy of logic is shaped, explicitly or implicitly, by the thought that logic is distinctively formal and abstracts from material content. The distinction between formal and material does not appear to coincide with the more familiar contrasts between a priori and empirical, necessary and contingent, analytic and synthetic—indeed, it is often invoked to explain these. Nor, it turns out, can it be explained by appeal to schematic inference patterns, syntactic rules, or grammar. What does it mean, then, to say that logic is distinctively formal? Three things: logic is said to be formal (or “topicneutral”) (1) in the sense that it provides constitutive norms for thought as such, (2) in the sense that it is indifferent to the particular identities of objects, and (3) in the sense that it abstracts entirely from the semantic content of thought. Though these three notions of formality are by no means equivalent, they are frequently run together. The reason, I argue, is that modern talk of the formality of logic has its source in Kant, and these three notions come together in the context of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Outside of this context (e.g., in Frege), they can come apart. Attending to this
To appear in the European Journal of Philosophy Benacerraf's Dilemma Revisited
"... One of the most influential articles 1 in the last half century of philosophy of mathematics begins by suggesting that accounts of mathematical truth have been motivated by two quite distinct concerns: (1) the concern for having a homogeneous semantical theory in which the semantics for the statemen ..."
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One of the most influential articles 1 in the last half century of philosophy of mathematics begins by suggesting that accounts of mathematical truth have been motivated by two quite distinct concerns: (1) the concern for having a homogeneous semantical theory in which the semantics for the statements of mathematics parallel the semantics for the rest of the language (2) the concern that the account of mathematical truth mesh with a reasonable epistemology [403] Observing that the two concerns are liable to pull strongly in opposite directions, he proposes two conditions which an acceptable account of mathematical truth should satisfy. One—the semantic constraint—has it that: any theory of mathematical truth [should] be in conformity with a general theory of truth … which certifies that the property of sentences that the account calls 'truth ' is indeed truth [408] The other—the epistemological constraint—is that: a satisfactory account of mathematical truth … must fit into an overall account of
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