@MISC{Tait_indefense, author = {W. W. Tait}, title = {In Defense of the Ideal 2nd DRAFT}, year = {} }

Share

OpenURL

Abstract

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