[FOM] quasi-empiricism and anti-foundationalism

praatika@mappi.helsinki.fi praatika at mappi.helsinki.fi
Wed Sep 24 09:54:23 EDT 2003

Simpson and Friedman have again defended "foundationalism" vigorously here 
in FOM. I find the issue mostly verbal: In philosophy, "foundationalism" 
and "foundations of math" have meant something quite different from what 
Simpson and Friedman understand by it, and philosopher's have used it so 
for ages. One can redefine it, but one should be aware of this difference. 

Simpson has also refered to his earlier criticism of Tymoczko's book and 
attack on "quasi-empiricism". What I really wanted to point out is the 

I think that the idea of "quasi-empiricism" (in the philosophy of 
mathematics) was introduced by Hilary Putnam. This is how he explained it 
in the introducution to his Philosophical Papers, VOl. 1. 

"Not surprisingly, I was led to reexamine the history of classical 
mathematics. In this enterprise, aided both by some insightful papers by 
Kurt Godel, ... and by some discussions with the mathematician Martin 
Davis, I was led to the conclusion that the differences and empirical 
science have been vastly exaggerated. That in mathematics too there is an 
interplay of postulation, quasi-empirical testing, and conceptual 
revolutions leading to the formation of contextually a priori 
paradigms... " (etc.)    

That does not sound at all stupid to me. And I don't think that such an 
idea contradicts in any way FOM in the sense that Harvey and Steve 
understand it. Or does it? 



Panu Raatikainen

PhD., Docent in Theoretical Philosophy
Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
University of Helsinki
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
P.O. Box 4
FIN-00014 University of Helsinki

E-mail: panu.raatikainen at helsinki.fi

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