[FOM] On the Expression “only in a Pickwickian sense” [Nominalism and Pragmatism]

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Thu Apr 5 00:00:04 EDT 2012

Re: Re: Margaret MacDougall
At: http://www.cs.nyu.edu/pipermail/fom/2012-March/016373.html

Hi Margaret,

My plane leaves tomorrow morning and I haven't packed yet,
so just the first thoughts off the cuff for now.  Peirce was
a realist about mathematical objects and universals in general,
and I would personally regard that as being the working attitude
that we adopt in mathematics, despite the denials that some folks
like to make when not actually doing math.  See this blog post on
Hypostatic Abstraction for a number of pertinent ideas about that:

• http://inquiryintoinquiry.com/2008/08/08/hypostatic-abstraction/

Quine affected to take a pragmatic attitude, but I think he meant
that in a much different sense than Peirce.  Peirce's critique of
Cartesian philosophy included this advice: "Let us not pretend to
doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts."  I think
that Peirce might say that it's our fastidious but false pretense
to doubt the reality of numbers and their ilk that is Pickwickian.



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