[FOM] vagueness in mathematics?

Walt Read walt.read at gmail.com
Sun Feb 12 19:10:04 EST 2017

On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 8:12 PM,  <W.Taylor at math.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:
> Stewart Shapiro <shapiro.4 at osu.edu> raises an interesting point:
>> Mathematics goes to great lengths to avoid any kind of vagueness or
>> indeterminacy. In what sense has it succeeded or not succeeded?
>> Doesn't vagueness enter in to almost every other subject?

> To the second sentence - almost every appearance of vagueness is rapidly
> sorted out by appropriate distinguishing definitions, (as SS goes on to
> say).

I'm not sure how rapidly things get sorted out. Zermelo's notion of
"definite property" seems to have hung on for a while before being
clarified, while still allowing math to be done. And of course
"algorithm" was a central notion long before any rigorous definition
was available.


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