[FOM] CH and mathematics
blumal at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Jan 20 05:50:26 EST 2008
Is Feferman's question in effect an expression of doubt about the
meaningfulness of CH? Would you say that the same would have been true
of Fermat's last theorem would have been proved independent of the
axioms of arithmetic?
You speak of mathematicians intuitions and refrain from speaking of
mathematical truth. But intuitions about what? Can't all mathematicians
be mistaken? I now quote from H.Jeome Keisler, in the same book:"What
would happen if a contradiction were found in a very weak system on
which we rely, such as primitive recursive arithmetic?"p180
I would rather think that the status of CH as a set theoretic
proposition has not changed over time. We now know that it is
independent of the other axioms but its truth is no more a problem than
is that of any of the ZF axioms or for that matter any other
mathematical proposition; or is it?
Arnon Avron wrote:
>In two recent postings asked:
>>In his recent entry in Philosophy of Mathematics:5 Questions, Solomon
>>Feferman asks: "Is the Continuum Hypothesis a definite mathematical
>>If is not a mathematical problem, what kind of a
>>problem is it?
>If you assume apriorily that CH is a * definite problem*, then
>of course it is a definite mathematical problem.
> For some reason you omitted the crucial word "definite" when you
>formulated *your* problem. But this is the main issue.
> Set-theoretical platonists would say that CH is a definite
>problem. But non-platonists like me, who have always had a
>problem with the concept of "arbitrary set of natural numbers",
>not understanding in what sense such sets "exist", and who
>doubt that the term "P(N)" has a definite (=absolute) meaning,
>necessarily doubt that CH is a definite proposition, with a definite
>truth-value. The fact that CH cannot be decided in the strongest
>systems that the overwelming majority of the mathemaricians
>can claim to have some intuitions about,` casts even stronger
>doubts that CH can be said to have a definite truth value.
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