FOM: anti-foundationalism

Pat Hayes phayes at
Tue Mar 30 12:32:22 EST 1999

Re. the discussion between Simpson and Shapiro, I can't help remarking that
civil engineering provides a very apt analogy for FOM. One can, in fact,
build quite securely on sand. Most of Florida consists of sand, and very
large buildings are built here on the very beaches, where there is no
bedrock to be had; yet they survive the worst storms. This is achieved by
paying very careful attention to the foundations. The right way to make a
strong building on sand is to dig many deep holes and fill them with
concrete (or drive many wooden posts deep into the sand), then use those to
firmly secure a platform on which the rest of the building is constructed.
The wider the building, the more posts one needs, and the higher the
building, the deeper they must go. But one never finds bedrock, nor does
one need to. Hilbert thought he could find rock, but Gödel showed that we
must build on sand. But be happy: we *can* build our intellectual fortress
on sand, and still make it as strong as we need.

Best wishes

Pat Hayes

IHMC, University of West Florida		(850)434 8903   home
11000 University Parkway			(850)474 2091   office
Pensacola,  FL 32514			(850)474 3023   fax
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