[FOM] [Fwd: Re: Fictionalism About Mathematics]

Director CPFS director at cpfs.res.in
Mon Mar 12 08:20:38 EDT 2012

At the
risk of missing the boat yet again, may I make two brief
1)      I have not seen any mention or discussion of the Imre Lakatos
dissertation which was published as ‘Proofs and Refutations’,
which offers a constructivist view of mathematical objects in which new
objects are introduced by enlarging the axioms (e.g. dropping the parallel
postulate allows non-Euclidean geometries to be constructed and
generalizing operations such as arithmetical operations from natural
numbers to real numbers, complex numbers and transfinite
2)      As for quantum theory, Niels Bohr often compared the development
of physical concepts to the process of generalization that resulted, for
instance, in complex numbers. The introduction of non-Euclidean geometries
was another pointer in the same direction. The idea is that while the new
concept may be alien to our experience, it is related to yet different
from concepts that are well understood. Hence the counter-intuitive
‘ontology’ of quantum theory is attributed to the fact that
quantum systems are not experienced by us in the everyday world

3)      The alternative to Platonism is not just fictionalism; it could
be structuralism. Mathematics can be viewed as an idealized science of
structure and measure which arose from everyday concerns in the physical
world to encompass wider domains.
Ranjit Nair


Professor Ranjit Nair 
Centre for Philosophy &
Foundations of Science 
Darshan Sadan 
E-36 Panchshila Park 
New Delhi 110017 

Tel. +91 11 65951738 / 46170795
/ 26490667 
Fax +91 11 26495181 
Cell 9810332846 (Delhi) 

director at cpfs.res.in
director at cpfs.in 
director.cpfs at gmail.com

---------------------------- Original Message
Subject: Re: [FOM] Fictionalism About
From: T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk 
Date: Sun, March
11, 2012 12:51 pm 
To: "Foundations of Mathematics"
<fom at cs.nyu.edu> 

It is true that there are people in Philosophy departments who
fictionalism, but i have yet to meet a working mathematician
who does. The 
problem i have with this kind of talk is this:
ficticious objects have real 
counterparts. People in novels, plays
etc, are fictions. We (sort-of) know 
how to deal with this beco's
there are *real* people as well. But if 
mathematical entities are to
be fictions, what real things are they 
fictions of? And if they
aren't, why call them fictions? 

FOM mailing list

FOM at cs.nyu.edu 


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: </pipermail/fom/attachments/20120312/efb6c10f/attachment.html>

More information about the FOM mailing list