FOM: "Unreasonable effectiveness..."; CAT vs. SET wtait at
Thu Jan 29 23:01:33 EST 1998

Sol Feferman wrote

>I would like to propose a one-week moratorium (voluntary) on the CAT
>vs. SET controversy.  

Although I probably appreciate the motives for this proposal---I have 
certainly felt that no new ground has recently been cultivated and, 
besides, the rhetoric has tended on both sides to be more unpleasant that 
is conducive to rational discussion. 

But even with the word `voluntary',. I think that this kind of proposal 
smacks too much of policing. We have a moderator to make judgements about 
quality, which makes sense. But pressure to avoid topics, even for a 
week, that are legitimately in the field seems wrong. Goodness, Sol: 
suppose someone actually had something really new to say about the 
subject, that would get things rolling in an interesting direction. Why 
should that person feel compelled to wait a week just because one of us 
(not primarily involed in the CAT/SET debate) proposed it?

The loss in so restricting what others feel free and comfortable to 
discuss far out weighs the gain: it is after all very easy to scan and 
decide what is likely to be of interest.

My counter proposal is that we (voluntarily) agree not make proposals to 
restricting the subject matter of the postings. 

In his Grundlagen, Canter wrote that no one need police mathematics 
against the creation of bad mathematics; if it is bad, no one will pay it 
heed and it will just die away.  (I think it was directed at Kronecker, 
at least.) We know that this is very much less true of philosophy in 
general; but let's be optimistic and hope that it works sufficiently on 

Bill Tait

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