Volume 113, Issue 5/6, May/June 2016
Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics
On Tait on Kant and Finitism
In his “Kant and Finitism” Tait attempts to connect his analysis of finitist arithmetic with Kant’s perspective on arithmetic. The examination of this attempt is the basis for a distinctive view on the dramatic methodological shift from Kant to Dedekind and Hilbert. Dedekind’s 1888 essay “Was sind und was sollen die Zahlen?” gives a logical analysis of arithmetic, whereas Hilbert’s 1899 book “Grundlagen der Geometrie” presents such an analysis of geometry or, as Hilbert puts it, of our spatial intuition. This shift in the late ninteenth century required a radical expansion of logic: first by the inclusion of principles for “systems” (sets) and “mappings” (functions), but second by a structuralist broadening of axioms and inferential principles. The interaction of mathematics and logic in mathematical logic opened, around 1920, fields of investigation with enormous impact on the philosophy of mathematics, promoting a deeper integration of mathematical practice and philosophical reflection.