FOM: Why Hersh can't

Kanovei kanovei at
Thu Jan 22 11:18:56 EST 1998

<From: "Shipman, Joe          x2845" <shipman at>
<My peak rating is 2405 (Senior Master) 

Are you sure you understand the Hersh's notion of 
CONSENSUS adequately ? 

It is quite clear that this cannot be 
understood as any sort of conscious voting (in 
direct or indirect meaning) among mathematicians 
(say by unanimous decision of an annual conference 
of AMS). 

I would understand CONSENSUS as something like 
"established consistency with the basic laws of mathematics". 

Here: CONSISTENCY is to be established by concrete 
mathematicians, just in the same way as phisicists 
"prove" their theories (however by different tools).

On the other hand, BASIC LAWS OF MATHEMATICS is 
something more stable, which, on the one hand, 
has been elaborated in the course of the long 
history of mathematics (since Greeks), while on 
the other hand implicitly goes back to measurements 
and forms observation, having therefore both social 
and (indirectly) physical nature. 

Vladimir Kanovei

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