Numbers, reference and Russellian propositions

Grazer Philosophische Studien 72 (1):95-110 (2006)
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Abstract

Stewart Shapiro and John Myhill tried to reproduce some features of the intuitionistic mathematics within certain formal intensional theories of classical mathematics. Basically they introduced a knowledge operator and restricted the ways of referring to numbers and to finite hereditary sets. The restrictions are very interesting, both because they allow us to keep substitutivity of identicals notwithstanding the presence of an epistemic operator and, especially, because such restrictions allow us to see, by contrast, which ways of reference are not compatible with the simultaneous maintenance of substitutivity of identicals and the classical notions of truth and knowledge. In this paper the difference between the restricted and the unrestricted kind of reference is put in relation with Russell's ideas on naming and it is argued that the latter as well is compatible with a certain Russellian conception of the understanding of sentences. Then it is discussed whether and how numbers could be conceived as objects of acquaintance. Finally a general question about the notion of logical form is raised.

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