FOM: ph.o.m. must impact on f.o.m.

Robert Tragesser RTragesser at
Sun Jan 18 11:38:24 EST 1998

        I deeply agree with Harvey Friedman
that work in ph.o.m. is to be measured by
its impact on m,  certainly,  and -- I'd say --
        Three remarks.  
        (1) A just out book on the ph.o.m. by
J.J.Katz (dedicated to Putnam and Benacerraf)
explicitly and pointedly insists that the
ph.o.m. is its own special discipline with
its own mode of knowledge in some sense absolved
of responsibility to mathematics. For example,
he maintains that the truths of mathematics
are necessary truths. . and gives one or two
light examples.  I am at a loss about
what is gained. . .without the ideas being pushed
hard enough to speel out their implications for
how we ought to frame mathematics in a way that 
makes this "necessity" explicit. . .amd also have
thereby in hand a means of checking the adequacy of
this framing.
        (2)  The major of my energies these days
are spent on the foundations of biology.  It is
astonishing how far removed the writings of
philosophers are from the fundamental problems;
conversely,  we have the spectacle of life scientists,
sensing powerfully the need for philosophy,  and finding no 
(academic) philosophers addressing their issues,  try to fill
the gap with the most appalling thinking they think
is philosophy.  (In general,  philosophy has been so
out of tune with the genuinely deep problems of hard
science that we have the spectacle of physicists,  astro-
physicists,  etc. needing to fill the gap and thinking/reasoning
so very badly that one wonders about how well thought out their
 "professional" work is. . .what standards of reasoning were
at work there. . .one could understand loosening one's stadards a 
bit. . .but so extremely?
        The APA has a lot to answer for.
                robert tragesser 

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