Acta Analytica 31 (3):297-318 (2016)

Markus Pantsar
University of Helsinki
In early analytic philosophy, one of the most central questions concerned the status of arithmetical objects. Frege argued against the popular conception that we arrive at natural numbers with a psychological process of abstraction. Instead, he wanted to show that arithmetical truths can be derived from the truths of logic, thus eliminating all psychological components. Meanwhile, Dedekind and Peano developed axiomatic systems of arithmetic. The differences between the logicist and axiomatic approaches turned out to be philosophical as well as mathematical. In this paper, I will argue that Dedekind’s approach can be seen as a precursor to modern structuralism and as such, it enjoys many advantages over Frege’s logicism. I also show that from a modern perspective, Frege’s criticism of abstraction and psychologism is one-sided and fails against the psychological processes that modern research suggests to be at the heart of numerical cognition. The approach here is twofold. First, through historical analysis, I will try to build a clear image of what Frege’s and Dedekind’s views on arithmetic were. Then, I will consider those views from the perspective of modern philosophy of mathematics, and in particular, the empirical study of arithmetical cognition. I aim to show that there is nothing to suggest that the axiomatic Dedekind approach could not provide a perfectly adequate basis for philosophy of arithmetic.
Keywords Frege  Dedekind  Epistemology of arithmetic
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-015-0280-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Cambridge, England: Allen & Unwin.
The Foundations of Arithmetic.Gottlob Frege - 1884/1950 - Evanston: Ill., Northwestern University Press.
Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.

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