Brouwer’s Weak Counterexamples and the Creative Subject: A Critical Survey

Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (6):1111-1157 (2020)


I survey Brouwer’s weak counterexamples to classical theorems, with a view to discovering what useful mathematical work is done by weak counterexamples; whether they are rigorous mathematical proofs or just plausibility arguments; the role of Brouwer’s notion of the creative subject in them, and whether the creative subject is really necessary for them; what axioms for the creative subject are needed; what relation there is between these arguments and Brouwer’s theory of choice sequences. I refute one of Brouwer’s claims with a weak counterexample of my own. I also examine Brouwer’s 1927 proof of the negative continuity theorem, which appears to be a weak counterexample reliant on both the creative subject and the concept of choice sequence; I argue that it provides a good justification for the weak continuity principle, but it is not a weak counterexample and it does not depend essentially on the creative subject.

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Informal Rigour and Completeness Proofs.Georg Kreisel - 1967 - In Imre Lakatos (ed.), Problems in the Philosophy of Mathematics. North-Holland. pp. 138--157.
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Varieties of Constructive Mathematics.D. S. Bridges - 1987 - Cambridge University Press.

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