[FOM] burden of proof

Henrik Nordmark henriknordmark at mac.com
Sun Jun 10 19:29:51 EDT 2007

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> I wonder if the burden of proof argument has been a topic of formal  
> reflection in FOM.
> I would be happy to know some sketch on this topic, for example  
> about the realist - anti-realist debate

I do not know whether "burden of proof" has ever been discussed on  
FOM as a concept per se, nor whether there have been any attempts to  
capture this concept in a *formalized* manner. However, this does  
seem to be a question worthy of reflection.

As for your second question...
Here is a rough sketch of how the burden-of-proof technique is used  
in the realist/anti-realist debate in philosophy of mathematics:

(a) The anti-realist often claims that the burden of proof is on the  
epistemological front and challenges the realist by asking: How is it  
that human beings are able to access information about this  
mysterious platonic universe of atemporal, acausal mathematical objects?

(b) The realist on the other hand, would often like to place the  
burden of proof on explaining the universality of mathematics. If  
mathematics is just a fiction, why is it so useful and universal in  

Both the realist and the anti-realist would like to make us believe  
that answering this question is such an impossible task that the only  
reasonable conclusion is to adopt their point of view. And there are  
probably many more examples of these burden-of-proof type arguments  
in philosophy of mathematics, but these are the first two that came  
immediately to mind.

Best wishes,
Henrik L Nordmark.

Henrik Nordmark
Institute for Logic, Language and Computation
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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