FOM: awe; an unusual recursion theory meeting

Stephen G Simpson simpson at
Thu Jun 10 14:12:35 EDT 1999

Harvey Friedman 8 Jun 1999 11:52:08

 > As you notice, I feel obliged to defend the greatness of the f.o.m.
 > enterprise, and stand in awe of its acheivments and possibilities,
 > as I stand on the shoulders of giants such as Aristotle, Frege and
 > Godel.  Apparently not all subscribers share this awe.

Harvey, I agree with you that some FOM subscribers do not have
appropriate reverence and respect for the achievements and
possibilities of the f.o.m. enterprise.  

However, part of the purpose of the FOM list is to provide a forum for
scholarly criticism of f.o.m.  By bringing these real and imagined
grievances to the light of day, we can get to the bottom of some of
the anti-foundational and anti-f.o.m. trends that seem to be rampant
in today's culture and especially in certain academic circles.

This kind of thing can have a lot of value.  There has already been a
lot of this on FOM.  To name a few: (1) the exchange with van den
Dries regarding general intellectual interest; (2) the exchange with
the ``list 2'' crowd regarding basic mathematical concepts; (3) the
exchange with Shapiro regarding anti-foundationalism.  And I am sure
there will be lots more.

 > I will be preoccupied with an upcoming talk on "The Future of
 > Reverse Mathematics" and will not be very active on the FOM for a
 > while.

I too will give a talk at the same meeting, next week.  Information
about the meeting, including the program and abstracts of all the
talks, is available from Cholak's recursion theory web page at

This looks like being an unusual recursion theory meeting.  Usually,
recursion theorists focus largely on methodological and structural
aspects of certain structures (r.e. degrees, etc) that are of interest
only to hard-core recursion theorists and have little or no general
intellectual interest.  In this meeting, the organizers (Cholak,
Lempp, Lerman, Shore) seem to be trying to place more emphasis than
usual on what they call ``applications'' of recursion theory, i.e. a
wider intellectual landscape, including f.o.m.

I applaud this apparent attempt to broaden the scope of recursion
theory.  I will report further after the meeting.

-- Steve

More information about the FOM mailing list