[FOM] Reply to Friedman on foundations etc.

Alasdair Urquhart urquhart at cs.toronto.edu
Tue Oct 21 16:21:38 EDT 2003

> > That's fine, but part of Corfield's argument is precisely that
> > the whole "f.o.m." orientation has distorted philosophy of mathematics.
> > You may disagree, but that's his argument.
> That's fine, but that is not an argument. That is a statement.

OK, OK, the main point argued for in one of his principal arguments.
Sigh ...
> First of all, f.o.m. doesn't "have philosophy of mathematics". It is
> neutral. 

This is a misunderstanding.  By "f.o.m." I meant the stream of foundational
research emerging from the so-called "foundational crisis" of the early
20th century (a dramatic-sounding phrase for which I think Hermann
Weyl is mainly responsible).  Corfield argues that the philosophy of
mathematics has been distorted by an overly narrow focus on this 
part of philosophy and history.

> E.g., it is not clear to me that it is time for f.o.m. to seriously aim at
> explaining what a good mathematical conjecture is.

I agree, but the aims of philosophy of mathematics could be different.
> OK, so let's start a new FOM thread concerning Bayesianism in mathematics.
> Let's see what the prospects are for serious f.o.m. work along these lines.

Good plan!

> Gxx help us if current philosophy of physics is our guide. No, let me say it
> differently. Even Gxx can't help us if current philosophy of physics is our
> guide. 

> The foundations of physics is in absurd condition even for trivial physics.
> The serious issues are foundational/philosophical and are not going to be
> clarified by mathematical complexities.

> These nonsubjects will get off the ground in a serious way through pondering
> - and only through pondering - just what makes f.o.m. work so well. Of
> course, major additional ideas not present in f.o.m. are needed.

Again, interesting comments.  Could you enlarge?  My own view of the
foundations of physics is not so pessimistic, but since I am not
an expert, I will defer to those who are.

Alasdair Urquhart

More information about the FOM mailing list