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What is mathematics about? Does the subject-matter of mathematics exist independently of the mind or are they mental constructions? How do we know mathematics? Is mathematical knowledge logical knowledge? And how is mathematics applied to the material world? In this introduction to the philosophy of mathematics, Michele Friend examines these and other ontological and epistemological problems raised by the content and practice of mathematics. Aimed at a readership with limited proficiency in mathematics but with some experience of formal logic it seeks to strike a balance between conceptual accessibility and correct representation of the issues. Friend examines the standard theories of mathematics - Platonism, realism, logicism, formalism, constructivism and structuralism - as well as some less standard theories such as psychologism, fictionalism and Meinongian philosophy of mathematics. In each case Friend explains what characterises the position and where the divisions between them lie, including some of the arguments in favour and against each. This book also explores particular questions that occupy present-day philosophers and mathematicians such as the problem of infinity, mathematical intuition and the relationship, if any, between the philosophy of mathematics and the practice of mathematics. Taking in the canonical ideas of Aristotle, Kant, Frege and Whitehead and Russell as well as the challenging and innovative work of recent philosophers like Benacerraf, Hellman, Maddy and Shapiro, Friend provides a balanced and accessible introduction suitable for upper-level undergraduate courses and the non-specialist.
This introduction to the philosophy of mathematics focuses on contemporary debates in an important and central area of philosophy. The reader is taken on a fascinating and entertaining journey through some intriguing mathematical and philosophical territory, including such topics as the realism/anti-realism debate in mathematics, mathematical explanation, the limits of mathematics, the significance of mathematical notation, inconsistent mathematics and the applications of mathematics. Each chapter has a number of discussion questions and recommended further reading from both the contemporary literature and older sources. Very little mathematical background is assumed and all of the mathematics encountered is clearly introduced and explained using a wide variety of examples. The book is suitable for an undergraduate course in philosophy of mathematics and, more widely, for anyone interested in philosophy and mathematics.
Bertrand Russell is probably the most important philosopher of mathematics in the 20th century. He brought together his formidable knowledge of the subject and skills as a gifted communicator to provide a classic introduction to the philosophy of mathematics.
In this ambitious study, David Corfield attacks the widely held view that it is the nature of mathematical knowledge which has shaped the way in which mathematics is treated philosophically and claims that contingent factors have brought us to the present thematically limited discipline. Illustrating his discussion with a wealth of examples, he sets out a variety of approaches to new thinking about the philosophy of mathematics, ranging from an exploration of whether computers producing mathematical proofs or conjectures are doing real mathematics, to the use of analogy, the prospects for a Bayesian confirmation theory, the notion of a mathematical research programme and the ways in which new concepts are justified. His inspiring book challenges both philosophers and mathematicians to develop the broadest and richest philosophical resources for work in their disciplines and points clearly to the ways in which this can be done.
Michael Potter presents a comprehensive new philosophical introduction to set theory. Anyone wishing to work on the logical foundations of mathematics must understand set theory, which lies at its heart. Potter offers a thorough account of cardinal and ordinal arithmetic, and the various axiom candidates. He discusses in detail the project of set-theoretic reduction, which aims to interpret the rest of mathematics in terms of set theory. The key question here is how to deal with the paradoxes that bedevil set theory. Potter offers a strikingly simple version of the most widely accepted response to the paradoxes, which classifies sets by means of a hierarchy of levels. What makes the book unique is that it interweaves a careful presentation of the technical material with a penetrating philosophical critique. Potter does not merely expound the theory dogmatically but at every stage discusses in detail the reasons that can be offered for believing it to be true. Set Theory and its Philosophy is a key text for philosophy, mathematical logic, and computer science.
This is a systematic and well-paced introduction to mathematical logic. Excellent as a course text, the book presupposes only elementary background and can be used also for self-study by more ambitious students. Starting with the basics of set theory, induction and computability, it covers propositional and first order logic — their syntax, reasoning systems and semantics. Soundness and completeness results for Hilbert's and Gentzen's systems are presented, along with simple decidability arguments. The general applicability of various concepts and techniques is demonstrated by highlighting their consistent reuse in different contexts. Unlike in most comparable texts, presentation of syntactic reasoning systems precedes the semantic explanations. The simplicity of syntactic constructions and rules — of a high, though often neglected, pedagogical value — aids students in approaching more complex semantic issues. This order of presentation also brings forth the relative independence of syntax from the semantics, helping to appreciate the importance of the purely symbolic systems, like those underlying computers. An overview of the history of logic precedes the main text, while informal analogies precede introduction of most central concepts. These informal aspects are kept clearly apart from the technical ones. Together, they form a unique text which may be appreciated equally by lecturers and students occupied with mathematical precision, as well as those interested in the relations of logical formalisms to the problems of computability and the philosophy of logic. This revised edition contains also, besides many new exercises, a new chapter on semantic paradoxes. An equivalence of logical and graphical representations allows us to see vicious circularity as the odd cycles in the graphical representation and can be used as a simple tool for diagnosing paradoxes in natural discourse.
A comprehensive collection of historical readings in the philosophy of mathematics and a selection of influential contemporary work, this much-needed introduction reveals the rich history of the subject. An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics: A Reader brings together an impressive collection of primary sources from ancient and modern philosophy. Arranged chronologically and featuring introductory overviews explaining technical terms, this accessible reader is easy-to-follow and unrivaled in its historical scope. With selections from key thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume and Kant, it connects the major ideas of the ancients with contemporary thinkers. A selection of recent texts from philosophers including Quine, Putnam, Field and Maddy offering insights into the current state of the discipline clearly illustrates the development of the subject. Presenting historical background essential to understanding contemporary trends and a survey of recent work, An Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics: A Reader is required reading for undergraduates and graduate students studying the philosophy of mathematics and an invaluable source book for working researchers.

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