FOM: Steve Simpson wanders far afield

Stephen G Simpson simpson at
Thu Feb 11 20:16:29 EST 1999

Martin Davis writes:
 > > Recently and incredibly, a bunch of academics held a pep rally in
 > > defense of Clinton and against impeachment!
 > For what it's worth, I would happily have attended such a pep
 > rally. But whatever has this to do with f.o.m.?

I mentioned the pep rally as a particularly blatant example of the
politicization of science, interpreting `science' broadly to include
all truth-seeking branches of learning.  Clinton's lawyers cited these
`constitutional scholars' (actually they were no such thing) on the
floor of the Senate.  Have a look at David Horowitz's article
`Postmodern Professors and Partisan Politics', which I cited just
after mentioning the pep rally.  I deplore the politicization of
science.  Don't you?

In the next paragraph, I tied it directly to f.o.m.:

 > Tying this in to f.o.m., I would note that even G"odel's
 > incompleteness theorem is often popularly misused by academics and
 > others as an argument against reason and science in general, and
 > even against particular technologies such as nuclear energy and
 > missile defense.  This kind of blatant misuse of f.o.m. is an issue
 > that I think would be very appropriate for discussion on the FOM
 > list.
 > How to combat the politicization of science?  The good guys need to
 > speak out ....

What's your opinion of the politicization of G"odel's incompleteness
theorem?  I deplore it.  I think f.o.m. professionals ought to combat
it.  Don't you?

In the first official FOM message, 9 Oct 1997 09:48:42, which
inaugurated the FOM list, I said:

 > I am hoping for an exciting and serious discussion of foundations of
 > mathematics.  Some possible broad topics:
 >   1. Why are you personally intersted (or uninterested!) in
 >      foundations of mathematics?
 >   2. What is foundations of mathematics?  What is its role within the
 >      broad structure of science, philosophy, and culture?
 >   3. How does foundations of mathematics contribute to pure mathematics?
 >   4. How does pure mathematics contribute to foundations of mathematics?
 >   5. What is the relationship between foundations of mathematics
 >      and applied mathematics?
 >   6. What is the relationship between foundations of mathematics
 >      and philosophy of mathematics?
 >   7. What is the relationship between foundations of mathematics and 
 >      technical work in mathematical logic (model theory, proof theory,
 >      set theory, recursion theory)?

Martin, do you think the role of f.o.m. `within the broad structure of
science, philosophy, and culture' ought to be declared out of bounds
for the FOM list?

-- Steve

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