[FOM] polemic, predicativism, and absolute certainty

Timothy Y. Chow tchow at alum.mit.edu
Mon Feb 6 19:18:29 EST 2006

Curtis Franks wrote:
> I'd like to point out that in his earliest descriptions of his 
> foundational program (I'll quote from his 1922 Hamburg paper), David 
> Hilbert articulated the same motivation--"I should like to regain for 
> mathematics the old reputation of incontestable truth"--as an 
> *objection* to foundational programs that involve a restriction of 
> ordinary mathematical techniques. He even specifically picks out 
> Predicativism as a foundational program that jeopardizes the objectivity 
> of mathematics:

This is an interesting historical fact that I for one wasn't aware of, but 
it seems to me that its philosophical importance in the present debate is 
limited by its pre-Goedel date.  Given that Hilbert's vision is impossible 
in its original form, perhaps predicativism is more plausible as a 
candidate for "absolute truth" than it might have seemed before Goedel's 


More information about the FOM mailing list