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Durham e-Theses
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Existence, knowledge & truth in mathematics

Jones, Stephen Charles Ion (1997) Existence, knowledge & truth in mathematics. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis offers an overview of some current work in the philosophy of mathematics, in particular of work on the metaphysical, epistemological, and semantic problems associated with mathematics, and it also offers a theory about what type of entities numbers are. Starting with a brief look at the historical and philosophical background to the problems of knowledge of mathematical facts and entities, the thesis then tackles in depth, and ultimately rejects as flawed, the work in this area of Hartry Field, Penelope Maddy, Jonathan Lowe, John Bigelow, and also some aspects of the work of Philip Kitcher and David Armstrong. Rejecting both nominalism and physicalism, but accepting accounts from Bigelow and Armstrong that numbers can be construed as relations, the view taken in this work is that mathematical objects, numbers in particular, are universals, and as such are mind dependent entities. It is important to the arguments leading to this conception of mathematical objects, that there is a notion of aspectual seeing involved in mathematical conception. Another important feature incorporated is the notion, derived from Anscombe, of an intentional object. This study finishes by sketching what appears to be a fruitful line of enquiry with some significant advantages over the other accounts discussed. The line taken is that the natural numbers are mind dependent intentional relations holding between intentional individuals, and that other classes of number - the rationals, the reals, and so on - are mind dependent intentional relations holding between other intentional relations. The distinction in type between the natural numbers and the rest, is the intuitive one that is drawn naturally in language between the objects referred to by the so-called count nouns, and the objects referred to by the so-called mass nouns.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Thesis Date:1997
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 15:52

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