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Title: What structuralism could not be
Author: Ferguson, Stephen
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 1998
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Frege's arithmetical-platonism is glossed as the first step in developing the thesis; however, it remains silent on the subject of structures in mathematics: the obvious examples being groups and rings, lattices and topologies. The structuralist objects to this silence, also questioning the sufficiency of Fregean platonism is answering a number of problems: e.g. Benacerraf's Twin Puzzles of Epistemic and Referential Access. The development of structuralism as a philosophical position, based on the slogan 'All mathematics is structural' collapses: there is no single coherent account which remains faithful to the tenets of structuralism and solves the puzzles of platonism. This prompts the adoption of a more modest structuralism, the aim of which is not to solve the problems facing arithmetical-platonism, but merely to give an account of the 'obviously structural areas of mathematics'. Modest strucmralism should complement an account of mathematical systems; here, Frege's platonism fulfils that role, which then constrains and shapes the development of this modest structuralism. Three alternatives are considered; a substitutional account, an account based on a modification of Dummett's theory of thin reference and a modified from of in re structuralism. This split level analysis of mathematics leads to an investigation of the robustness of the truth predicate over the two classes of mathematical statement. Focussing on the framework set out in Wright's Truth and Objectivity, a third type of statement is identified in the literature: Hilbert's formal statements. The following thesis arises: formal statements concern no special subject matter, and are merely minimally truth apt; the statements of structural mathematics form a subdiscourse - identified by the similarity of the logical grammar - displaying cognitive command. Thirdly, the statements of mathematics which concern systems form a subdiscourse which has both cognitive command and width of cosmological role. The extensions of mathematical concepts are such that best practice on the part of mathematicians either tracks or determines that extension - at least in simple cases. Examining the notions of response dependence leads to considerations of indefinite extensibility and intuitionism. The conclusion drawn is that discourse about structures and mathematical systems are response dependent but that this does not give rise to any revisionary arguments contra intuitionism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BC199.M2F4 ; Frege, Gottlob, 1848-1925 ; Mathematics--Philosophy