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Questions tagged [philosophy-of-mathematics]

Philosophy of mathematics asks questions about mathematical theories and practices. It can include questions about the nature or reality of numbers, the ground and limits of formal systems and the nature of the different mathematical disciplines.

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The nature of Nominalist Formalism

In this entry in the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, it is stated that the theory of nominalist formalism deals with the metatheory problem of formalism as follows: Commendably, Goodman and ...
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Is there any physics-model version of Tegmark's hypothesis?

Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis is very interesting (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_universe_hypothesis) but it has virtually no support among physicists because it is too ...
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What kind of randomness is said to be computable? [on hold]

I asked if pure randomness is computable, and some person told me that the answer hinges on how I defined computed and how I defined pure randomness, then out of curiosity what kind of randomness can ...
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What does this Jacques Hadamard quote mean?

What does this Jacques Hadamard quote mean? The shortest path between two truths in the real domain passes through the complex domain. Is this a philosophical statement? what is its mathematical ...
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Must the physical phenomenon of the universe be differentiable?

The use of Calculus for the analysis of real-world phenomenon depends entirely on our universe not only being continuous, but being differentiable. By "real-world phenomenon" I mean things like the ...
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Humility in cleverly taking a mathematical limit [on hold]

Is the following idea true? (Can you show arguments or examples confirming or disproving it?) When somebody wants to calculate a mathematical limit, he may notice that the value of the function ...
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6answers
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Falsification in Math vs Science

In the beginning it was thought that the statement 1+1=0 is false, and necessarily so. However, with the birth of modular arithmetic, it was found that indeed, 1+1 does indeed equal to 0 (in the mod 2 ...
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What was Wittgenstein's argument against Cantor's transfinite numbers and where did he make his objection?

G. E. M. Anscombe had this to say about propositions in Wittgenstein's Tractatus: (page 137) It seems likely enough, indeed, that Wittgenstein objected to Cantor's result even at this date, and ...
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1answer
187 views

Gödel's Results and Philosophy of Mathematics [closed]

Gödel's results essentially conclude that there are True but Unprovable statements in arithmetic. My thoughts are as follows: Axioms form the foundation of mathematics -because we need to assume ...
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What does Wittgenstein mean when he says “there are no numbers in logic”?

From the Tractatus: 5.453 All numbers in logic stand in need of justification. Or rather, it must become evident that there are no numbers in logic. There are no pre-eminent numbers. What does ...
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2answers
187 views

Does philosophy of mathematics affect mathematical research?

I am interested in a special case of the general question about whether the philosophy of X has an effect on the research or practice of X. My special interest is in the area of mathematics. I am a ...
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1answer
163 views

Where to start with the philosophy of mathematics?

This may be a duplicate question. What is the best way to get started with the philosophy of mathematics? Given that I know (from university) the basics that are discussed (Set theory, Russell's ...
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193 views

Are axioms in mathematics comparable to hypotheses in experimental sciences?

Remark: my question deals more particularly with the axioms of set theory, arithmetic, probability theory, etc. I think the status of the axioms in geometry is clearer. The French fictitious ...
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1answer
64 views

Can pure randomness be computed?

Algorithm for randomness usually use seed, and thus having an unique input it cannot be said to be completely random, so can pure randomness be theoretically computed?
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1answer
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Could generalization of scientific theories be possible by just adding an ad hoc hypothesis?

In a seventeenth century world the Newtonian model did mostly very well to describe how gravity works in the universe and did well with most empirical evidence of that time. Of course now we know that ...
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4answers
156 views

Is math arbitrary?

Math at its core begins with calling something true or false and following logic. WE for example call an odd number 2n+1, but what if we called an odd number 2n and flipped it for it to become an even ...
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427 views

What theorems are most important for the foundation of mathematics?

What are the mathematical theorems which are considered as the most important for the mathematics themselves? By importance I mean foundational to mathematics as a whole or foundational to a good ...
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2answers
101 views

Can math be done without syllogisms? [closed]

Question seems self explanatory. Is there anything in mathematics that can be stated to be true without using a logical syllogism? Had a discussion with somebody about this recently. Sorry if this is ...
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1answer
296 views

What is the relevance of applicability to the natural sciences in pure mathematics?

I think I am coming to a good, new understanding of the relationship of pure mathematics to the natural sciences. A major concern of mine is just how reliable is rigorous (characteristically "pure") ...
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4answers
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What are some mathematical fields that can be useful to philosophers?

I am wondering if there's any field in mathematics that can help philosophers define things or help a philosopher make an argument for something. I am just wondering if there's any mathematics that ...
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3answers
214 views

Did any philosopher make the claim that mathematics can be as illusory as visual information?

The Greeks postulated that the world we observe may be just an illusion and Kant based some of his philosophy on that very idea. From that idea, came the idea that mathematical truths are more certain ...
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1answer
165 views

What are some philosophical arguments that explain why mathematics allow us to reach a greater truth than empirical evidences?

Is it really the case? Was there a proof of sort that shows mathematical facts are more certain than empirical facts? What are the arguments for and against that claim?
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Believing in the axiom of Power Set

I am struggling to find a philosophical reason for believing in the axiom of power set, and I was hoping you can give me some justifications. I am not looking for answers of the form "it's convenient ...
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1answer
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The mereological account of sets

So it has come to my attention that David Lewis, David M. Armstrong and others tried a mereological account of sets. James Franklin states it as: Armstrong adopts David Lewis’s proposal that a ...
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If the universe is flat, how can the Earth be round? [closed]

Just another silly question that may deserve a wise answer.
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Are the “laws” of deductive logic empirically verifiable?

"Is Logic Empirical?" strongly suggests a question that I would like very much to get a handle on. That phrase is a title of an article by Hilary Putnam, and, according to synopses/reviews, the ...
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How much platonism do I need to handle the halting property?

I always considered myself as platonist (in contrast to formalist / finitist) but recently I realized (if this is actually true) that you need a bit of platonism to even make sense of questions like '...
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Do picture proofs of the Pythagorean theorem make it empirical?

As I understand it, the Pythagorean Theorem, which defines the metric for Euclidean space, is said to be strictly mathematical in the sense that it is derived from a set of purely theoretical axioms (...
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158 views

Are there clear counter-examples to this definition of mathematics?

Here I'll re-present the question about a definition of mathematics as being about deduction, that I've given in a prior posting, but here I'll further clarify that this might not be what is usually ...
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162 views

Infinity in modern integration theory

The Riemann integral itself doesn't work with infinity (±∞) as “endpoints”, you have to take a detour by calculating the integral for arbitrary endpoints ±z and then take the limit for z→∞, which ...
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184 views

How much this theory fulfills of criteria for a foundational theory of mathematics?

[EDIT] The criteria for a founding theory of mathematics, especially if it uses large cardinal axioms that I want to refer to are those of Harvey Friedman's 2000 criteria given in pages 5-6 of the ...
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220 views

Number, Category and Set

Can it be said that a number is a category is a set? There is such a variety of ideas on numbers, categories and sets that probably anything one says about them will be controversial, but I was ...
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177 views

Is there an alternative to cardinalities that makes proper subsets smaller than their sets?

Cantor defined an infinite set as a set whose subset can be placed in a one-to-one correspondence with its subset. That is, take the set of all natural numbers: {0, 1, 2, 3, 4,...}. From that set, you ...
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1answer
183 views

Is there a natural example of a non-self-referential semantic paradox in philosophy?

A commonly studied paradox is the liar's paradox. The liar's paradox is to determine whether "this statement is false". The usual resolution is to state this the sentence is not actually a statement ...
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Are there counter-examples to this broad characterization of mathematics?

Mathematics can be broadly characterized as the study of non-trivial apriori symbolically displayed axiomatic systems. Or more elaborately the study of non trivial apriori implicit or explicit ...
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What is the difference between depth and surface information?

I was looking for an answer to this question: Was Euclid's method of proof axiomatic? While doing so I ran across an abstract of Jaakko Hintikka for an article "What is the axiomatic method?" ...
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Distinguishing between procedure-like and collection-like mathematical objects

Is it useful/productive to draw a distinction between "active" things with "computational force" (procedure-like) and "passive" things without such force (collection-like)? Does this distinction have ...
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201 views

Does Reflective Set Theory “RfST” fulfill the requirements of founding Category Theory and Mathematics?

On mathoverflow I've posed the question in the title in connection to Muller's 2001 criteria for a founding theory of mathematics, which largely raised in connection to Category theory [see here]. ...
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Similar to Douglas Adam's HGTTG, Is there any philosophy that views human society as a computation?

In Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy, Earth is a supercomputer that is computing the the Ultimate question, whose answer is 42. I was wondering is Douglas Adams was inspired by any ...
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109 views

Does the snake bite its own tail: “Philosophy of philosophy”

I was just philosophizing about the philosophy of mathematics. Then at one point I philosophized: is there a philosophy of philosophy? Is that meta-philosophy, or is that just philosophy again? Can ...
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156 views

Truth in Science vs. Truth in Math

Two scientists independently try to solve a problem to predict a certain phenomenon. The two scientists come up with different answers, but both of their solutions seem logical to each other. How do ...
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3answers
141 views

How can truth exist if every statement is ambiguous? [closed]

I have read online and personally believe that every statement has some degree of ambiguity to it. With this in mind, I was wondering how any propositions can be true. For example, I have heard some ...
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316 views

Mathematics and disagreements

I was just pondering as a mathematics major, is there a particular instance where a mathematician's work doe NOT require agreements among peer scholars of mathematics to determine the quality of the ...
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1answer
224 views

Are there any good philosophical arguments for or against Cantor's theorem, other than the ones that Cantor came up with?

I am looking for philosophical arguments for and against Cantor's theorem other than the ones Cantor came up with, if you know any, can you present them or a link to them? I post this in philosophy ...
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72 views

Can results be predicted?

I wanted to know that, what can we assume as the result of some experiment which we have not conducted on the basis of mathematical proofs? I mean, in general, equations are created after analyzing ...
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Does Tegmark himself include paraconsistent mathematical structures in his mathematical multiverse hypothesis?

Tegmark postulates in his hypothesis that all possible mathematical structures would exist. But does he include also possible mathematical structures described by other types of logic like ...
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1answer
119 views

Is mathematics something real or just an abstraction we created?

Is mathematics something real like something so correlated in our universe which would be different in other theoretically universes or is it just an abstract universe-independent layer/framework we ...
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2answers
107 views

Do mathematicians use logic when adding things up?

I asked a similar question recently, and it was closed. So, bear with me. When two things are materially equivalent we don't add anything to work out how much we have of both together, right? If ...
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652 views

What are the philosophical implications of using inconsistent mathematics?

I have stumbled across the idea of 'inconsistent mathematics' and could not fully understand: why mathematicians would prefer at times to work with inconsistent systems (from which I assume everything ...
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If our world is mathematical، Does not this increase the probability of being complex as well?

Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis, posits that reality is a mathematical structure. This mathematical nature of the universe, Tegmark argues, has important consequences for the way ...