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Torkel Franzn







Provability and Truth

Akademisk avhandling som fr avlggande av filosofie doktorsexamen vid Stockholms Universitet, offentligen frsvaras i hrsal 7, hus D, Frescati fredagen den 18 september 1987 kl 10.00 av Torkel Franzn Fil kand Filosofiska institutionen, Stockholm 1987 sid 81, ISBN 91-22-01158-7, ISSN 0491-0877

ABSTRACT According to mathematical realism, the truths or facts of mathematics are not dependent on human knowledge, and in particular not on being provable. In the words of the mathematician G.H.Hardy, "Mathematical theorems are true or false; their truth or falsity is absolute and independent of our knowledge of them." Mathematical anti-realism has it that all mathematical truth must in some way or another come down to the concrete realities of rules, meaning, human practices and inclinations: "For after all, in the end every question about the expansion of V2 must be capable of formulation as a practical question concerning the technique of expansion." (Ludwig Wittgenstein) The thesis poses two questions: what is the role in our thinking of mathematical realism, and how are we to understand the natural appeal of the anti-realistic view? These questions are considered in relation to elementary arithmetic, where mathematical realism is generally recognized as having a particularly strong hold on our thinking. The answers given in the thesis are based on a characterization of realism as consisting in a certain use of mathematical statements in non-mathematical contexts, rather than on the usual association of mathematical realism with the use of classical logic in mathematical reasoning. It is argued that mathematical realism thus conceived does play an essential role in our thinking about rules, machines, possibilities, formal systems. The appeal of anti-realism is held to spring from certain natural metaphysical predilections which we cannot expect to eliminate, but on which we may profitably reflect The exposition draws a great deal on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, although with no exegetical ambitions. It is also indebted to the work by Michael Dummett and Dag Prawitz on meaning theories, and contains a number of critical remarks on the association of realism with the concept of a theory of meaning.



Torkel Franzn



ABSTRACT According to mathematical realism, the truths or facts of mathematics are not dependent on human knowledge, and in particular not on being provable. In the words of the mathematician G.H.Hardy, "Mathematical theorems are true or false; their truth or falsity is absolute and independent of our knowledge of them." Mathematical anti-realism has it that all mathematical truth must in some way or another come down to the concrete realities of rules, meaning, human practices and inclinations: "For after all, in the end every question about the expansion of ^2 must be capable of formulation as a practical question concerning the technique of expansion." (Ludwig Wittgenstein) The thesis poses two questions: what is the role in our thinking of mathematical realism, and how are we to understand the natural appeal of the anti-realistic view? These questions are considered in relation to elementary arithmetic, where mathematical realism is generally recognized as having a particularly strong hold on our thinking. The answers given in the thesis are based on a characterization of realism as consisting in a certain use of mathematical statements in non-mathematical contexts, rather than on the usual association of mathematical realism with the use of classical logic in mathematical reasoning. It is argued that mathematical realism thus conceived does play an essential role in our thinking about rules, machines, possibilities, formal systems. The appeal of anti-realism is held to spring from certain natural metaphysical predilections which we cannot expect to eliminate, but on which we may profitably reflect The exposition draws a great deal on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, although with no exegetical ambitions. It is also indebted to the work by Michael Dummett and Dag Prawitz on meaning theories, and contains a number of critical remarks on the association of realism with the concept of a theory of meaning.

1987, Torkel Franzn ISBN 91-22-01158-7 ISSN 0491-0877 Printed in Sweden by Akademitryck AB Edsbruk

I Introduction Proofs and provability in Realism IV Realism and meaning V Anti-realism

The metaphysically-minded person feels that the actual world is made up solely of positive, specific, determinate, concrete, contingent, individual, sensory facts, and that the appearance of a penumbra of fictional, negative, general, indeterminate, abstract, necessary, super-individual, physical facts is somehow only an appearance due to a lack of penetration upon our part John Wisdom: Metaphysics and Verification


In the philosophy of mathematics, classical mathematics is often associated with mathematical realism or Platonism, according to which the numbers, functions, and so on, of mathematics belong to a mathematical reality existing independently of human thought. A closely related view, also called Platonistic, is that mathematical truth is independent of our mathematical knowledge, so that e.g. Poincar's conjecture has a determinate truth value, whether or not the conjecture is ever settled. There are obvious grounds for associating some such metaphysics with classical mathematics. In analogy to the designation "constructive mathematics", classical mathematics may be called "descriptive mathematics". The real numbers, for example, are described or characterized as constituting a complete ordered field. The quantifiers used in this description - "for every real number", "for every set of real numbers" - are not given any special interpretation or justification. Apparently it is assumed that real numbers and sets of real numbers are objects to which we may refer using ordinary language with as much justification as when we speak of past events, molecules, or far galaxies. We reason about the real numbers in the same descriptive spirit. Two examples of such reasoning will be noted here for later reference. If M is an infinite subset of a closed bounded interval I, then I contains an accumulation point of M. We can see this by subdividing I=Io according to the following prescription: let I^+i be the left half of 1^ if this half contains infinitely many points of M, otherwise the right half. A sequence <Xn> where x^ lies in 1^ will converge to an accumulation point of M. The existence of this sequence is plain only if we grant that which of the two cases in the prescription obtains is determined, as it were, by the mathematical facts. Our knowledge, if any, of the matter does not enter into the reasoning. Indeed there is no assumption in the argument that M is in any way describable or definable. The second example is the use of the axiom of choice in the argument proving that there is a non-measurable subset of the interval I=[0,1], We partition the interval by putting and y in the same equivalence class if x-y is rational. Now let M be a set containing a representative from each of the uncountably many equivalence classes: M cannot be measurable, since I is the union of the countably many disjoint translations M+r (mod 1) of M. The existence of this set M is not at all evident if we take the existence of sets of real numbers to depend on their being in any way defined or constructed.

It seems, then, that to accept at face value the language and modes of reasoning used in ordinary mathematics is to take mathematics to be the study of an objective realm of infinite objects. Although some mathematicians - e.g. Hermite and Hardy - have explicitly embraced this Platonistic view, it is probably true that few mathematicians regard themselves as committed to it. And indeed the use of classical logic and classical infinitistic concepts and methods in mathematics is perfectly compatible with very different views of the subject matter of mathematics. We may for example take the view that mathematics is, in the words of Paul Bemays, "the theoretical phenomenology of structures"^ and justify our modes of reasoning in terms of the way in which we conceive of these structures, without thereby denying that the structures conceived of are phenomenal or fictitious or merely posited, and statements made about them true only in so far as they can be seen to be true. The question of the truth or falsity of Poincar's conjecture, for example, is then a question of what we can make convincing or even compelling to ourselves and others concerning these entirely fictitious or imaginary objects. Such a view of classical mathematics I will call a "distancing view". This term means simply that the language and modes of reasoning of classical mathematics are not taken at face value outside mathematics itself. An extreme distancing view is that the things we say in mathematics are strictly speaking meaningless, that only statements of the results of formal computations or derivations can be taken at face value. This view, although occasionally expressed, is generally recognized as inadequate and will not be considered here. I believe, however, that the distancing view sketched in the preceding paragraph corresponds rather closely to the attitude of many mathematicians. A comparison with intuitionistic mathematics is instructive. Intuitionistic mathematics is explicitly separated from the idea of a mathematical reality analogous to the physical world. Brouwer puts it as follows: in intuitionistic mathematics "the criterion of truth or falsehood of a mathematical assertion is confined to mathematical activity itself, without appeal either to logic or to a hypothetical omniscient being".^ We may apply this view to classical mathematics as well, without precluding our using classical logic (or any classical mathematical methods) in attempting to solve a mathematical problem: intuitionistic and classical problems differ only in that different notions of proof and evidence are involved, and not in the ontological status of their subject matter. For example, the truth or falsity of the axiom of constructibility is, on this view, no more and no less objectively determinate than that of the intuitionistic version of Church's thesis. It is true that the concepts of intuitionistic logic and mathematics are systematically
^ Bemays [1], p.528. ^ Brouwer [1], p.552.

explained and motivated in terms of proofs in an abstract and theoretical sense (and thus in terms of hypothetical mathematical activity), whereas there is no systematic explanation and motivation in such terms of the methods and notions of classical non-finitistic mathematics. The obstacles to such an interpretation in the case of classical mathematics are well known. The ordering relation between real numbers, for example, cannot be explained by saying how a<b is proved for given a and b, if only because real numbers cannot in general be given at all. Nor has the evidence for the axiom of choice (as used in the argument above) anything to do with possibilities of proof. That there is no explanation of classical mathematics in such terms means that there is no integral connection between classical mathematics and the distancing view of the subject matter of mathematics. More precisely, this view does not suggest any coherent interpretation of mathematical notions or any illumination of mathematical evidence in the classical case, but has the character of a general metaphysical doctrine or premiss - as when a confirmed atheist holds that the whole of human religious experience and religious practice must admit an explanation compatible with the non-existence of deities. Not indeed an explanation in the sense of something that can be used to initiate people into the practice or experience, but a hypothetical reckoning or analysis that leaves out nothing that must, from the atheist's point of view, be counted as a hard fact or a genuine question. It may seem inapposite to call classical mathematics "descriptive mathematics" if, to put it simply, the things it purports to describe do not exist. But then, neither are the objects of constructive mathematics actually "constructed". In both cases we speak of mathematics in terms that agree with a general conception or interpretation of mathematics, in a vague and broad sense. The classical conception of mathematics as descriptive derives from many sources - physics, geometry, set-theoretical intuition, to name but a few. For a better understanding of the nature of the "mathematical reality" of classical mathematics, we will have to widen our philosophical perspective to take these sources into account.

The view of mathematics sketched above will now be expounded a bit further. We might as well put a name to it and call it "classical eclecticism". As the name suggests, the various ingredients of classical eclecticism can be found here and there in the literature (and outside it), but it will not be assumed that there are any adherents of the doctrine as a whole.3
^ In the logical and philosophical literature, ideas congenial to classical eclecticism can be found e.g. in the works by Kreisel, Gdel, Wang, Bernays, Myhill cited in the bibliography.

From the point of view of classical eclecticism, proofs, or "mathematical activity", do not enter into the explanation of mathematical statements at any level. The assumption that Poincar's conjecture is true is understood, in a mathematical context, as an assumption concerning the phenomenal or imaginary world of mathematics. A very different context is created if we put the following question: supposing the conjecture to be true, is there any guarantee that it can be shown to be true? A common reaction among mathematicians is to shy away from such questions. Often the question will be met with misgivings concerning the use of the word "true" (misgivings which do not arise in a mathematical context). The nature of these misgivings is best brought out by eliminating the word "true" and putting the question in the form "assuming that..., is there any guarantee that it can be shown, i.e. proved, that...?" (where a formulation of Poincar's conjecture takes the place of the dots). From the distancing point of view of classical eclecticism, this is an odd question since it apparently presupposes an ontological or metaphysical criterion for the truth or falsity of the conjecture, one that is independent of provability. The formulation of this criterion is no different from the formulation of the conjecture itself: the difference is that we are invited to take this formulation at face value outside mathematics. We are asked to assume that Poincar's conjecture is "in fact" true, without being asked to assume anything concerning the provability of the conjecture. If provability here has its most general sense, this is unacceptable. The world of mathematics being phenomenal or imaginary, there is no other fact of the matter concerning the truth or falsity of Poincar's conjecture than that which has been or (more problematically) can be arrived at by mathematical reasoning. Similar situations abound in and outside philosophy. A particularly transparent case is that of discussions of indubitably fictitious worlds. The assumption that Sherlock Holmes was bom in Shropshire makes good sense in the context of Sherlockian studies. In a wider context, this assumption can only be understood as tantamount to the assumption that it is stated in, or can be inferred from, the canonical writings that Holmes was bom in Shropshire. That is, the general view of things, even among Sherlockians, is such that they take a distancing view of their investigations outside certain recognizably special contexts. Less transparent cases are usually more controversial. In ethics, it is a traditional view that questions of what is morally right or wrong can be meaningfully posed and answered only within a cultural setting; that it makes no sense, in a wider context, to assume that this or that ethical doctrine is tme and others false. Equally traditional is the opposite view that there is no context so wide, no perspective so objective or scientific, that ethical questions and distinctions do not arise with the same force as in our ordinary parochial perspective. In physics, some take a strongly distancing view of theoretical speculations conceming e.g. strange particles or the geometry of space-time, and explain that such

questions pertain only to a mathematical model and have no direct bearing on what the non-mathematical world is like. Others do not hesitate to translate the theories, questions, and speculations into non-mathematical terms and relate them to concems outside physics. The view that mathematical questions and assertions do not refer to any mathematical reality, but rather to the products of the fertile mathematical imagination of human beings, leaves largely open the question of the nature of mathematical problems and mathematical knowledge. In particular nothing follows concerning the sources or the scope of this imagination. The remarkable fact that the generally accepted methods of classical mathematics are formally encompassed within such systems as ZFC has prompted the attitude (which seems fairly widespread among mathematicians) that no mathematical problem of truth or falsity remains when a question is known to be undecidable in these systems. The continuum problem is a well-known example. The contrary view that this problem has not been solved is often assumed to go together with a Platonistic conviction that the continuum has a determinate cardinality. But (as was emphasized by Gdel) no Platonistic conviction need be involved. The attitude of classical eclecticism is that there is no reason to regard certain formal systems as laying down limits for mathematical knowledge. It is not surprising that most mathematicians prefer to leave aside problems known to be unsolvable in current mathematics. Long before the independence results. Hardy contrasted Goldbach's conjecture that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes - "a strictly mathematical question to which all questions of logic or philosophy seem irrelevant" - with the continuum hypothesis:^ This again appears to be a mathematical question; one would suppose that, if a proof were found, its kernel would lie in some sharp and characteristically mathematical idea. But the question lies much nearer to the borderline of logic, and a mathematician interested in the problem is likely to hold logical and even philosophical views of his own. Hardy's suspicions have since been formally verified. Whether we still regard the continuum hypothesis as something to be settled depends on our degree of confidence in the concepts of set theory, and optimism conceming the possibility of extending the range of acceptable principles. There is of course no guarantee that the continuum hypothesis can be settled. Indeed in this context the very notions of solution, decision, and proof are largely indeterminate. The simple reason why this is not in itself discouraging is that the introduction of new convincing principles and definitions has been a part of mathematics so far. The attitude of classical eclecticism as regards the justification of the present methods and concepts of mathematics must also be briefly considered. How do we explain or
4 Hardy [l],p.2.

justify the use of classical logic and of such concepts as "set of real numbers"? What grounds do we have for using the axiom of choice and other set-theoretical principles in proofs? Essentially, we can at present do no better than present these methods and principles as convincing in the light of our informal descriptions or visualizations of the world of mathematics. Classical logic is used as a matter of course, since the mathematical world is conceived of as analogous to the physical world. We may or may not go on to claim (with Hardy and Hermite) that we are describing or investigating an objective realm, but such claims add nothing immediately apparent to our explanations or justifications. The axiom of choice illustrates several points concerning explanation and justification. Having accepted the conception of sets as extensional totalities, independent of constructions and definitions, we find this axiom eminently convincing and pleasing to the intellect. This can be elaborated in different ways. We may for example say that we can imagine picking out one element from each set in the collection, or that any possibility of selection is realized as a set in the full set-theoretical universe. There is nothing either profound or compelling in such justifications. Those who do not find the axiom (as used in the proof above) at all convincing will be far from satisfied. Mathematicians, when pressed for comments, usually play down the intuitively evident character of the axiom of choice and emphasize instead its demonstrable consistency (relative to other axioms) and usefulness in proofs. This attitude, it has often been remarked, does not seem to be in harmony with mathematical practice, in which the also demonstrably consistent and even more useful axiom of constructibility occurs only as an explicit hypothesis, if at all. Also it has been proved (by Solovay) that the countable axiom of choice is compatible with the non-existence of non-measurable subsets of R, but this is essentially a curiosity and has not prompted the development of alternative forms of analysis. It is of course difficult to draw any definite conclusions from such observations concerning current practice, or to predict the future course of mathematics. Classical eclecticism, at any rate, recognizes the distinction between evident principles such as the axiom of choice and highly doubtful (even if powerful and interesting) ones such as the axiom of constructibility. To give a theoretical analysis of this distinction is another matter. The emphasis so far has been on the distancing aspect of classical eclecticism. The mathematical reality described and investigated by mathematicians has been viewed as phenomenal or fictitious. No other criterion for the truth of a mathematical statement has been invoked than its acceptability to mathematicians - whatever the nature of the processes by which statements are accepted as evident, plausible, or proved in mathematics. The point has been made that Platonism is neither necessary nor in any obvious way helpful in explaining, understanding, or justifying classical mathematics. On the other hand we find on reflection that we do not in fact take a distancing view of

all mathematics. In particular, the properties of the natural numbers are normally regarded as objectively determinate. We don't know whether there are finitely or infmitely many twin primes, but the actual number of such primes will, in any ordinary context, be taken to be ontologically determined. It takes an effort to consider the view that the number of twin primes, if at all determinate, depends on what is or can be made convincing to the human intellect. It is not surprising that Hardy and others use arithmetical examples when presenting a realistic view of mathematics. This realistic view of an indeterminate ran^e of elementary mathematics will be taken to form part of classical eclecticism. As a consequence, we can no longer express a distancing view of highly infinitistic or abstract mathematics in the easy terms used previously. The fact that such mathematics has consequences in the realm of elementary mathematics means that there is after all an ontological condition to impose on abstract axioms, namely that these elementary consequences should be true. The following philosophical aside in a paper on set theory illustrates:^ Of course, as with any axiom, an initial act of faith is required conceming the consistency: we assume that the existence of, say, an inaccessible cardinal does not lead to a contradiction with ZFC... It is the author's viewpoint that consistency is the only point at issue here, and that the question as to the "existence" of inaccessible cardinals is totally meaningless. To us, large cardinal theory is a (worthwhile) structure theory, no more. The author's attitude towards the question of consistency is notably realistic: we assume, as an act of faith, that e.g. the theory ZFI (ZFC plus the axiom "there is an inaccessible cardinal") is in fact consistent. "In fact" because even if we are correct in this assumption, there is no guarantee that a consistency proof can be given. The question whether there exists an inaccessible cardinal, on the other hand, is dismissed as "totally meaningless". Perhaps what is intended is only the natural and reasonable view that questions conceming the existence of large cardinals of various kinds are not questions of fact, but questions of what can be made plausible or convincing on the basis of our (developing) conception of the set theoretical universe in combination with technical results. We know, however, that large cardinal axioms have consequences for sets of low rank, and even for the hereditarily finite sets. It therefore seems arbitrary to say that consistency is the only point at issue when the question of the acceptability of inaccessible cardinals is raised. If, for example, ZFI is consistent but it is provable in ZFI that ZFI is inconsistent, then there is no inaccessible cardinal. On a resolutely formalistic view of set theory according to which it has no epistemological significance there is of course no reason to reject axioms with false
^ Devlin, p.93.

arithmetical consequences, since questions in set theory are regarded as posing only combinatorial problems of derivability or pseudo-algebraic ones concerning models of theories. It is difficult to say what interest the study of large cardinals has on such a view. The attitude of classical eclecticism is very different. Even "theological" set theory belongs with other extensions of the methods and concepts of mathematics, for example the introduction of the real and complex numbers, functional analysis, non-Euclidean geometry. By these extensions we seek to deepen our knowledge and understanding of older parts of mathematics as well as introduce new fields of thought and topics of investigation. Both new proofs of known theorems and proofs of new theorems in known fields using these extensions have very great interest, whereas isolating a part of mathematics and attempting to invest it with merely formal significance is sterile and boring. Of course this attitude is not tied to realism or the particular methods of classical mathematics but applies equally to finitistic or intuitionistic mathematics. My present point is only that given this attitude (which is that of classical eclecticism) and a realistic view of elementary mathematics we find that the existence of large cardinals - whatever the nature of the concepts involved - is not wholly a matter of what is "pleasing to the intellect" or otherwise accepted by or acceptable to mathematicians, but is linked to arithmetical matters of fact. The description of the world of mathematics as a product of the imagination, a creative field in which the mathematician need not defer to any external reality, captures an important aspect of mathematics. In Brouwer's resounding phrase, mathematics is an "autonomic interior constructional mental activity"; Cantor more simply characterizes pure mathematics as free mathematics. In its distancing view, classical eclecticism emphasizes this aspect of mathematics. But of course this is far from being the whole story. Both the description of mathematics as the language of nature and the observation that the world of mathematics has a reality of its own are also founded in the experience of mathematicians and users of mathematics. The patent objectivity of an elementary part of mathematics has been introduced above as a particularly simple corrective to the distancing view. It is a part of mathematics that allows us to indulge wholeheartedly in the traditional terminology of Platonism. It does not necessarily follow that restricting Platonism to arithmetic is a way of capturing its essential insights.

3 To complete the description of classical eclecticism, it remains to comment on the eclectic attitude towards non-classical mathematics. Non-classical mathematics in practice means some kind of constructivist mathematics. Intuitionistic and constructivistic concepts and theories are associated with interpretations and justifications which are

inappropriate in the case of classical mathematics. In particular, proofs enter into the interpretation of mathematical statements, and the objects of mathematics are thought of as constructed rather than described in our mathematical activity. Traditional (Brouwerian) intuitionism introduces objects and principles that have no counterpart in classical mathematics (choice sequences, continuity principles); all forms of systematic constructivism introduce a reinterpretation of logic. According to one well-represented tradition there is a conflict, in some formulations a "battle", between classical and non-classical mathematics. This is often the view of those constructivists who regard classical mathematics as ill-founded or senseless or a "scandal" or otherwise unsatisfactory and look forward, in Errett Bishop's words, to "the inevitable day when constructive mathematics will be the accepted norm".^ The obvious contrary view, which is that of classical eclecticism, is that the battle is one-sided. Classical and non-classical mathematics both make mathematical sense. Indeed, to those who are even moderately pluralistically minded it seems that new forms of mathematics should, generally speaking, be sought and encouraged. In one sense the conflict is undeniable. "There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who.say that there isn't." There are many points of conflict between the attitudes associated with classical eclecticism and the views of e.g. Bishop or Brouwer. But this is not a conflict between classical and non-classical mathematics as such, and the eclectic view is that there is no obstacle to our feeling at home in different types of mathematics. This is not to deny that there are genuine issues regarding the place of constructivism in mathematics. One type of issue concems the usefulness and efficiency for the purposes of computer programming or numerical mathematics of (i) the consistent use of constructive logic or other forms of non-classical mathematics and (ii) the constructive tradition of classical mathematics. For of course the interest of constructive methods and results (sharp bounds, explicit solutions, algorithms, etc.) has always been recognized in classical mathematics. Philosophical disputes over meaning and existence in mathematics contribute nothing to these issues and no position on them will be counted as part of classical eclecticism.

^ Bishop, Preface.

The views and impressions presented above as "classical eclecticism" are, I believe, both natural and plausible, and they will on the whole be upheld in the following. Clearly they do not amount to any "philosophy of mathematics". In the following chapters, they will serve as background and starting point for an examination of certain aspects of realism and anti-realism. Indeed the term "classical eclecticism" was introduced only for convenience in sketching this background. By (mathematical) realism, I mean the metaphysical doctrine that the statements of mathematics have a determinate truth value, or that they refer to an objective mathematical reality, or that mathematical truth is independent of provability. "Doctrine" is not perhaps an apt word, since there is no canonical formulation or detailed development associated with mathematical realism. It lives rather as a view or attitude: like other traditional philosophical or metaphysical views it is rooted in the strong impressions of many people. The range of these impressions varies: some take a realistic view of large cardinals, nearly everybody is a realist (in the present sense) where elementary computations are concerned. By (mathematical) anti-realism I mean the no less profound and influential impression that there can be no other truth of the matter when a mathematical question is raised than that which is explicit or (in a more or less problematic sense) implicit in rules, in meaning, in human actions and inclinations. Again the range of impressions of this kind varies from one individual to another. The terms "realism" and "anti-realism" are perhaps not understood in quite the same way by any two writers on this topic. It should be noted in particular that I have taken over the convenient term "anti-realism" from the work of Michael Dummett without following his usage in any detail. Some such convenient term is needed to denote the attitude of mathematical anti-realism. There are traditional philosophical terms with a more specific content which are usually associated with anti-realistic views, e.g. "verificationism", "reductionism", "phenomenalism", "conventionalism". But these more specific terms are not applicable in this context. On an anti-realistic view of mathematics, we cannot accept the apparent facts, truths, objects, questions of mathematics at face value: whatever facts, truths, objects, questions are associated with mathematics must in some way or another come down to realities: human institutions, inclinations, actions, rules. "For after all in the end every question about the expansion of V2 must be capable of formulation as a practical question concerning the technique of expansion.This does not imply that mathematical truth is in any sense a matter of convention, or that it is at all possible to reduce mathematics to anything else. Anti-realistic views may or may not
^ Wittgenstein [1], V-9.

lead to more specific schemes and doctrines as to the nature of mathematics, but such schemes and doctrines are not my concem here. Realism and anti-realism, as these terms are understood here, are standard ingredients in everybody's everyday thinking, although not necessarily in connection with mathematics. In accordance with Bradley's description of metaphysics as the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, realism (in mathematics and elsewhere) rests very largely on shared inclinations and natural predilections. We take a realistic view of past events, molecules, and far galaxies as it were by default. At the same time we are vividly aware of the metaphysical distinctions without which a realistic view would have no leverage: we are all to some extent "metaphysically-minded" in Wisdom's sense. Realism and anti-realism can only be understood as two sides of the same coin. Two questions concerning mathematical realism and anti-realism will be raised and answered in the following chapters. The first question is: What essential role, if any, does realism play in our thinking in or about mathematics? Since Brouwer, one influential view has been to ascribe to mathematical realism the important role of supporting or justifying the use of classical logic and other nonconstructive notions in mathematics. In accordance with the ideas of "classical eclecticism", this view will be rejected below. Chapter 4 contains a critical examination of another view which has been influential in recent years, viz. the association of realism with a "realistic theory of meaning", and hence with large claims concerning meaning and understanding in mathematics. Another widespread opinion is that the realistic conception of mathematical reality has only heuristic value and importance and that realism as a metaphysical doctrine has no essential role to play. Here a different view of the matter will be argued. Again in accordance with the general impressions sketched above, it will be argued in chapter 3, which is devoted to this issue, that realism does play an important, indeed essential, role in our thinking in and about elementary mathematics and its associated concepts such as rules, machines, and possibilities. This should not be a surprising claim since the controversy over realism has always centered on just these elementary mathematical concepts, where realism has its strongest hold on our thinking. To describe or pinpoint this role is not a simple matter. One of the useful aspects of Wittgenstein's writings, on which I draw throughout the essay, is that they are concerned with bringing out the influence of realism (Wittgenstein does not use this word, but speaks e.g. of "the extensional viewpoint") in contexts where it is not obvious.

The second question to be dealt with is the following: How are we to understand the metaphysical allure of anti-realism? Chapter 5 is devoted wholly to this question. The answer given consists in an exposition and examination of certain ideas and trains of thought which can be held to underlie antirealism. The view taken in chapter 5 is that these ideas arise naturally and are at least as rewarding to study as, say, such traditional philosophical topics as our ideas of time and space or of the nature of knowledge. Again Wittgenstein is an important source, and much attention is given to his reflections on rules, although without any claims to exegetical correctness. The ideas underlying anti-realism are usually presented as correcting misconceptions or unjustified beliefs inherent in realistic views: the treatment in chapter 5 is critical of anti-realism in the sense that such claims are rejected. As has been emphasized above, there is no necessary connection between anti-realism and the view that mathematics can or should be pursued along constructivistic lines. This latter view will not be taken up for consideration. The choice of questions is guided by the general attitudes of "classical eclecticism". No attempt will be made to justify by arguments a realistic view of elementary mathematics. In my opinion there can be no stronger justification than a convincing demonstration that it does play an essential role in "our" thinking, i.e. in the mainstream of at least some significant areas of human thought. Naturally such a demonstration is no proof of the correctness or inescapability of a certain view, but it is easy to underestimate what is required of a truly "revolutionary" change of ideas. Proofs and provability enter into the two questions in several ways, and chapter 2 has been set aside for a number of comments on these notions preliminary to the discussion of the main questions in later chapters. There is no recondite, detailed, or technical investigation of proofs or the concept of proof in chapter 2. In fact the whole of the chapter is directed towards substantiating a claim which is probably not very controversial, viz. that provability, taken in its most general epistemological sense, is an essentially open notion.


1 In the year 1900, David Hilbert made a famous affirmation:^ Take any definite unsolved problem, such as the question as to the irrationality of the Euler-Mascheroni constant C, or the existence of an infinite number of prime numbers of the form 2n+l However unapproachable these problems may seem to us, and however helpless we stand before them, we have, nevertheless, the firm conviction that their solution must follow by a finite number of purely logical processes. ...This conviction of the solvability of every mathematical problem is a powerful incentive to the worker. We hear within us the perpetual call: There is the problem. Seek its solution. You can find it by pure reason, for in mathematics there is no ignorabimus. This is one formulation of Hilbert's "non ignorabimus". The role and interpretation of the "non ignorabimus" in Hilbert's thought varied over the years, and my comments in the following are not to be taken as exegetical. The "non ignorabimus" is most naturally read as non-theoretical, as expressing and instilling an optimistic attitude. Then the firm conviction is irrefutable (though it may peter out) and its justification consists in pointing out, as Hilbert did, that many long intractable problems have eventually been solved. On this reading there is no question of Hilbert being right or wrong in his affirmation, only of his attitude being vindicated to a greater or lesser extent by the development of mathematics. But the "non ignorabimus" has also been regarded as a controversial claim which may be open to theoretical justification or refutation. Brouwer in particular has emphasized, with reference to the "non ignorabimus", that "there is not a shred of proof for the conviction, which has sometimes been put forward that there exist no unsolvable mathematical problems."^ Before considering the "non ignorabimus" from this latter point of view, we must ask
^ Quoted in Browder. 9 Brouwer [3], p.109.

to what kind of problem it is to be taken to apply. Most of the famous open problems in mathematics are of the "true or false"-variety. That is, the problem is to decide whether or not a certain statement or conjecture is true. To solve such a problem is to prove or disprove the statement; the solution is correct if the proof is correct. The problems mentioned by Hilbert are of this kind, and I shall assume in the following that the "non ignorabimus" refers only to "true or false"-problems and to definite "what is"-problems. By the latter I mean a problem of the form "What is...?"" which calls for an answer in a sharply defined range of answers. For example, "What is the number of Fermat primes?" calls for either the answer "There are infinitely many Fermat primes" or an answer of the form "There are k Fermat primes". There are mathematical problems of many other kinds. One may for example pose the problem of finding useful sufficient conditions for something, of explaining a strange coincidence or phenomenon, of characterizing or classifying mathematical objects, of extending a theory, improving an approximation, finding a definition. Solutions to such problems are not just proofs, and it is not a straightforward matter to say what makes a solution correct or adequate. There is little hope of making any theoretical observations conceming the solvability or unsolvability of mathematical problems in this general sense. Can the "non ignorabimus" be justified? A mathematician's conviction that a problem is solvable may be based on experience. The problem does not look intractable, he has an inkling, or even a good idea, of how to attack it. In such a case he has good grounds for his conviction even if he cannot articulate them, so he is not just expressing optimism or general confidence. Or perhaps his conviction that a particular problem is solvable may be well-founded even though he has no idea how to solve it. The "non ignorabimus", however, being abstract and general, cannot be justified by invoking the impressions of experts. It may also be the case that a given problem is seen to belong to a class of problems for which there is a known uniform method of solution. Such methods - algorithms form part of mathematics since antiquity. For example, the problem of finding the greatest common divisor of two integers is solvable for any pair of integers using Euclid's algorithm. More generally, uniform methods apply - at least in principle - to any explicitly computational problem involving only finite domains and objects and algorithmically defined operations and relations. There are also algorithms for classes of problems conceming infinite objects and domains - e.g. Sturm's algorithm (1829) for finding the number of real zeroes of a polynomial with real coefficients. The formalization of mathematics led to the possibility of radically extending the class of problems demonstrably solvable by specified means. If a formalized theory T is recognized as sound, i.e. if the formal derivations in T have an interpretation as valid

proofs, then one way of proving that a problem is solvable is to prove that a solution to the problem is derivable in T. If the theory T is proved to be complete, the "non ignorabimus" will have been proved for the class of problems that can be formulated in the language of T. Since strong theories T adequate for the formulation and derivation of existing mathematics were known around 1910, the idea of establishing the "non ignorabimus" in this way for all ordinary problems was not unreasonable. Today we know that such a mathematical justification of the "non ignorabimus" can be given for some quite extensive classes of problems - an example being Tarski's extension of Sturm's algorithm to the elementary theory of the field of real numbers - but not (according to Gdel's incompleteness theorem and later refinements) for elementary arithmetic, and in particular not for the class of problems of the form "Does the Diophantine equation p(xi,...xji)=0 have a solution?". Of course, Gdel's theorem applies only to recursively axiomatizable theories, and the conclusion that there is no uniform method for solving all arithmetical problems depends on Church's thesis. It has been suggested that Church's thesis is incontrovertible only if we require a uniform method to be mechanically applicable, that there may be other uniform (and uniformly successful) methods that require non-mechanizable insight or intuition. This possibility cannot be ruled out, but it is at present wholly insubstantial. It must be noted that the kind of justification of the "non ignorabimus" provided by in principle applicable algorithms or complete formalizations does not in fact adequately support Hilbert's declaration quoted above. For example, the solution to a problem of the form "Is 2^+1 a prime?" follows by a finite number of purely logical processes - if computations are counted as such - but not necessarily in any way that is of any use to us if we want to solve the problem. The problem is only known to be solvable in principle. The conviction that a problem is solvable in this sense can hardly serve as a powerful incentive to somebody who wants to actually solve the problem. But we have no theory at all of actual solvability, so in seeking to make a theoretical claim of the "non ignorabimus" we must inte ret it as a claim that every problem is solvable in principle.

It is generally agreed that the "non ignorabimus" has no known justification if it is taken to include the problems of elementary arithmetic. But does it follow (as Brouwer's remark suggests) that some such problems may be unsolvable in an absolute sense? The view to be argued here is that this suggestion cannot at present be taken seriously - not because there are grounds for optimistic faith in the solvability of all arithmetical

problems, but because of the lack of substance of the notion of absolutely unsolvable problems. A "true or false"-problem is unsolvable if the statement or conjecture at issue is undecidable: neither the statement, nor its negation can be proved. All proofs in current standard mathematics are believed to be formalizable in theories such as ZFC. If we had no idea how to extend ZFC, we would have at least some grounds for speaking of statements undecidable in ZFC as absolutely undecidable. But we do know how to extend ZFC. Gdel's proof introduced one method of extending any formal axiom system recognized as sound, viz. by reflection principles. Another open-ended series of extensions of the axioms of set theory is given by the strong axioms of infinity. Indeed it has been suggested that any statement in arithmetic is decidable by some recognizable axiom of infinity. This is aptly characterized by Cohen as "a rather vague article of faith" but there is nothing absurd about it. More generally, we have no idea of any kind of theoretical bound on what can be achieved by way of extending the methods, principles, and concepts of mathematics. This openness or indeterminateness of the notion of proof has another aspect. There is surely nothing impossible about our regarding any given problem as solved. If we envisage the possibility of an arithmetical statement being absolutely undecidable, what we have in mind is that no valid or correct or conclusive proof can be given by which the statement is settled. But it is highly doubtful whether the distinction between valid proofs and inconclusive arguments can carry the weight put on it when we speak of absolutely undecidable statements. To take a simple case: if a recognizable axiom of infinity is shown to imply an arithmetical statement, the statement need not thereby be proved, for we may have no reason or inclination to accept the axiom. On reflection, we may come to regard the axiom as convincing and the statement as proved. Talk of absolutely unsolvable problems presupposes an absolute and general distinction between axioms that are really evident or well-founded and such as are accepted merely on the basis of "familiarity passing for evidence".One need not hold that the distinction between the evident and the merely familiar is illusory or radically subjective to recognize that this presupposition is highly problematic. In the literature one finds the following argument for the existence of absolutely
Cohen [1], p.l52. Berkeley [1], 21: Men learn the elements of science from others: and every learner hath a deference more or less to authority, especially the young learners, few of that kind caring to dwell long upon principles but inclining rather to take them upon trust: And things early admitted by repetition become familiar: And this familiarity at length passeth for evidence.

undecidable statements: ...the statements that can be proved from axioms which are evident to us can only be a recursively enumerable set (unless an infinite number of irreducibly different principles are at least potentially evident to the human mind, a supposition I find quite incredible). Why is this argument inconclusive? First, if a principle is not formal, its consequences do not form a recursively enumerable set. Informal principles have no definite set of consequences at all, but only applications (formal principles among them) which are more or less direct, far-fetched, imaginative, convincing, etc. Mach's principle and the settheoretic reflection principle ("anything true in the universe is true in some set") are examples of such informal principles. In the same vein one may object that there is no definite number at all of principles potentially evident to the human mind, any more than there is a definite number of potential scientific theories or works of art. Or, to make a weaker assertion: we know of no such determinate range of principles. Finally, it seems only too likely that any principle at all is potentially acceptable to the human mind. The distinction between what is evident and what is merely accepted is dubious when applied to hypothetical principles. From an intuitionistic point of view, Brouwer's remark that "there is not a shred of proof for the conviction...that there exist no unsolvable mathematical problems" has another problematic aspect. Consider the problem of the truth or falsity of Goldbach's conjecture. If there is a counterexample to the conjecture, then this problem is solvable - at least in principle. So if the problem is absolutely unsolvable, then there is no counterexample and the conjecture is true although unprovable. But intuitionistically the conjecture must be provable if true. Hence, intuitionistically, the problem cannot be unsolvable. This conclusion is strictly correct if "the problem of the truth or falsity of A is unsolvable" is interpreted intuitionistically as "-i(A v lA)". It will then be true that intuitionistically there are no unsolvable problems, though this does not imply that every problem is solvable. So Brouwer's remark should be amended, from an intuitionistic point of view, to the observation that there is not a shred of proof for the conviction that every mathematical problem is solvable. The formulation Brouwer happened to use is appropriate only if one thinks of unsolvability in realistic terms. That is, "the problem of the truth or falsity of A is unsolvable" means that there is some essential obstacle to solving the problem, an obstacle which we may or may not be capable of understanding or discovering. In terms of provability, this means that there could be some essential obstacle to proving an
Putnam [1], p.63.

arithmetical statement, an obstacle other than the statement being false. If we take a realistic view of arithmetic ("mathematical truth is independent of provability") there is no absurdity in speaking of Goldbach's conjecture as possibly true but in this sense unprovable. Indeed the possibility of there being unprovable mathematical truths of this kind has sometimes been regarded as an important consequence of a realistic view. According to the comments above, however, talk of absolutely unsolvable arithmetical problems or, equivalently, absolutely unprovable arithmetical truths, has no substance at all, whether or not we take a realistic view of arithmetic. The formula "mathematical truth is independent of provability" will be given a different explanation in chapter 3.

3 Two notions of proof, with corresponding notions of provability, have figured in the above discussion of the "non ignorabimus": actual proofs (just "proofs" for short) and formal derivations. By "actual proofs" I mean written or spoken proofs such as those given in textbooks, papers, and talks. This is not to say that proofs are to be identified with written or spoken presentations - we speak of different presentations of the same proof, of the history and essence and analysis of particular proofs, and so on, and it also makes sense to speak of proofs that exist only as a train of thought in somebody's mind. In these respects proofs are no different from ideas, arguments, theories, stories, and other such abstract objects. The essential point is that actual proofs are the actual arguments and procedures which we use to prove mathematical statements. For a statement to have been proved, there must exist a written or spoken or mumbled presentation of an actual proof of the statement; for a statement to be actually provable (just "provable" for short) it must be actually possible to produce such a proof. This is the provability Hilbert had in mind in his exhortation. Proofs were described above as "arguments and procedures". In fact it is not a simple matter to say what goes into an actual proof. For example, proofs often contain reports on the results of computations ("Solving this equation, we obtain..."). These reports cannot nowadays always be replaced by actual protocols of the computations. As is well known, this is not feasible in the case of the Appel-Haken proof of the four color theorem. Keeping in mind that the actual proof is the actual mathematical verification of a theorem, what is the proof of the four color theorem? It is not just (the contents of) a number of pages of print, but includes the actual procedure of performing lengthy calculations using a computer. Or we may count the calculations not as part of the proof, but as part of checking the proof. In the present context it is not necessary to decide just how the term "proof is to be applied, as long as it is clear that to ask for the actual proof is to ask how

we actually come to regard a statement as mathematically verified. My use of the word "we" calls for a comment. Proofs have different audiences. A proof in a mathematical joumal may well be comprehensible only to a handful of experts; the rest of us accept the theorem as proved on their authority. By definition, actual proofs are relative to a mathematical community: they are the proofs pointed to or dragged out for inspection when the assertion that a certain statement is a theorem is to be justified. From the epistemological point of view, it should be noted, checking proofs is an important aspect of theorem-proving. Checking and cross-checking proofs serves both to increase our confidence in the conclusion and to improve the epistemological standing of the proof. The role and character of such checks and cross-checks has not been investigated in traditional philosophy of mathematics, but must be taken into account in any genuine mathematical epistemology. Again the Appel-Haken proof provides an example: to dispose of the rumor that there is something wrong with the proof, its originators "try to explain the intuition of the proof and let the reader understand how the proof was obtained and why the type of errors that crop up in the details do not affect the robustness of the proofThis explanation is not part of the proof in the ordinary sense, and traditionally has no place at aU in mathematical epistemology; but to those who have tried to follow the proof it may clearly be of crucial importance in helping to establish the theorem. The difficulties and uncertainties associated with actual proofs are illustrated by the proposed proof of Poincar's conjecture announced in September 1986. One of the originators of the proof held it to be "cut and dried" and took the view that it was a question of waiting for the proof to "sink into people's subconscious", whereas according to another mathematician "he's given some evidence that the proof is truly there" and yet others were convinced that the proof was inconclusive.^"^ Corresponding to actual proof is the notion of actual provability. In the following the word "provable" will be used in a way that does not accord with ordinary mathematical usage. In mathematics one would not ordinarily speak of axioms or logical principles as provable. In the present context, however, no distinction will be made between statements provable in a respectable mathematical way and trivial consequences of logical or mathematical axioms, or those axioms themselves. Thus "provable" in the following stands for "provable or evident". Another way of putting it is that "provable" stands for "mathematically verifiable". The use of the word "evident" here is noncommittal: nothing is presupposed concerning the nature of such mathematical evidence. The evident principles and axioms are merely those which are accepted as correct and used in proofs
Appel & Haken, p.lO. Article in the New York Times, September 30, 1986.

without themselves admitting or requiring mathematical proof. What is assumed is that we may appropriately speak of proofs and statements as correct, evident, valid, true, acceptable, and so on - i.e. apply the terminology of traditional epistemology (without necessarily having any opinion or theory concerning the nature of mathematical knowledge or mathematical truth). If, on the contrary, we regard some part of mathematics as having no more than formal significance, we cannot easily apply the above terminology. For example, many would hold that it makes little sense to inquire into the provability in the sense of "mathematical verifiability" of statements in abstract set theory: we can only ask whether they are derivable using specified rules and axioms, which themselves lack epistemological significance. On the other hand, practically everybody would be at ease with the question whether the Appel-Haken proof is corrects not in the sense of conforming to some set of formal rules, but as a demonstration of the truth of the four-color conjecture. In the following the range of such epistemologically meaningful mathematics will be left open. The first notion of provability to emerge, then, is actual provability. The only indisputable principle as regards actual provability is that if a statement A has been proved, then A is actually provable. Whether or not a statement A has been proved is, as noted above, sometimes hard to say. Also, as the case of the four color theorem shows, technology is not irrelevant to actual provability. For these and other reasons it is standard practice in philosophy to consider instead the "provability in principle" that has already been touched on in connection with the "non ignorabimus". To understand this notion, we must first look at formal derivations. Formal derivations are certain sequences, terms, trees, and so on, associated with formal systems of various kinds. Predicate logic theories such as ZFC are the prime examples. The distinguishing property of formal derivations in this context is that they are themselves mathematical objects - they are sequences, terms, trees in the mathematical sense. That a statement A is formally derivable in a theory T is accordingly a mathematical existence assertion. Strictly speaking, not statements, but some kind of formulas - mathematical objects are derivable in formal systems. However, for a formal system to have any epistemological significance, at least some of the formulas must be interpreted as mathematical statements. Inte reted formal systems will be referred to as "theories", and the notation #A will be used for a formula expressing the mathematical statement A. A is provable in a formal system T if there exists a derivation of #A in T. T will be assumed to satisfy further the condition that formulas and derivations are finite objects, and the set of derivable formulas recursively enumerable. Systems which

do not satisfy these conditions may well have epistemological relevance, but the relation between proofs and formal derivations will be more remote. This gives us the second notion of provability: provability in T, for a specified theory T. In contrast to actual provability, this is a mathematical concept: in fact, "A is provable in T" will be a statement of elementary arithmetic, by the conditions imposed on T. The epistemological significance of such provability will depend on the theory T. If T is a formalization of mathematical and logical principles (in the form of rules and axioms) which we accept as valid, the statements provable in T are, in the usual phrase, "provable in principle". The idea behind this terminology is that only limitations of time and space and various human frailties prevent statements provable in principle from being actually provable. This observation is in itself incontrovertible. Still, from an epistemological point of view such provability in principle is of doubtful interest. This is apparent already in the fact that every computational statement is in principle decidable, whereas from the point of view of human knowledge such statements are no more easily decided that any others. That is, a field of knowledge with a rich and intricate structure collapses into triviality in a proposed idealization. The striking and useful kind of application of formal derivability in epistemology is rather the negative one in which statements are established as not decidable (provable) in certain theories, and therefore not actually decidable (provable) by certain specified means. The third and last notion of provability to be introduced is theoretical provability, by which I mean provability in some provably valid theory. This again is not a mathematical concept, since there is no mathematically definable range of provably valid theories. Theoretical provability is the notion commonly employed in philosophical discussions and doctrines concerning "provability in principle", although not perhaps defined in just these terms. The essential point is that theoretical provability refers to what lies within the theoretical range of principles "potentially evident to the human mind", to borrow Putnam's phrase. The weaknesses of this notion, already touched on above, will be commented on further in 5.

4 In the literature on intuitionistic mathematics occurs a variously conceived notion of "canonical proof. Canonical proofs are neither actual proofs, nor formal derivations. Instead they enter into the very meaning of mathematical statements: it is usually said that to explain a statement is to say what counts as a canonical proof of it. As a consequence any true statement will have a canonical proof. An actual proof is, in this terminology, normally a "demonstration" showing how (in principle) to obtain a canonical proof.

The relation between canonical proofs and actual proofs or formal derivations depends on how the canonical proofs are conceived. In one version, the canonical proofs form an open and evolving family of (idealized) arguments and procedures, as do actual proofs; as a consequence, the meaning of mathematical statements will be similarly open and evolving. In another version, the canonical proofs are essentially mathematical constructs, the existence (in an appropriate sense) of which guarantees the truth of the corresponding statements. To tie the meaning of mathematical statements to canonical proofs of the latter kind is not in itself to say anything about the acceptability of realism or anti-realism. To clarify this point, I will give an analog of intuitionistic canonical proofs for classical elementary arithmetic. We are to explain the statements of elementary arithmetic by saying what is meant by a (canonical) proof and a (canonical) refutation of an arithmetical statement. This explanation proceeds by induction on the complexity of the statement (assumed to be formulated, as usual, in predicate logic), as follows (s and t stand for closed terms, and is the numeral with value n):

A proof of s=t is a computation reducing s and t to the same numeral. A refutation of s=t is a computation reducing s and t to different numerals. A proof of A=)B is a function taking proofs of A to proofs of B. A refutation of A=)B is a pair consisting of a proof of A and a refutation of B. A proof of -lA is a refutation of A. A refutation of - is a proof of A. A proof of VxA(x) is a function taking each to a proof of A(n). A refutation of VxA(x) is a refutation of A(n) for some n. A proof of 3xA(x) is a proof of A(n) for some n. A refutation of 3xA(x) is a function taking each to a refutation of A(n).

On the basis of these clauses, we can establish by induction that the rules of first order arithmetic are correct in the sense that all theorems of first order arithmetic have canonical proofs. For example, the classical rule of negation elimination is trivially correct since a canonical proof of - is the same thing as a canonical proof of A. To verify the rule of negation introduction, we need to establish by induction that A is provable if and only if it is not refutable (using, of course, classical logic in the inductive argument). An actual proof of an arithmetical statement is, from this point of view, not a canonical proof, but a

demonstration showing that the statement has a canonical proof. Nothing is gained by this explanation of arithmetic. Nevertheless it is perfectly analogous to similar intuitionistic schemes. The analogy extends to the relation between demonstrations and canonical proofs: in both cases the demonstration establishes the existence of a canonical proof. There is a difference in that the intuitionistic demonstration gives a recipe for constructing or obtaining (in principle) a canonical proof of the statement. This difference in the notion of mathematical existence is not an epistemological difference which breaks the analogy, since the canonical proof, e.g. of an existential arithmetical statement, has as a rule no epistemological significance at all.^^ I have introduced these classical canonical proofs only to emphasize that the use of canonical proofs to explain mathematical statements is compatible with a realistic interpretation of those statements. For example, if Goldbach's conjecture is true in its intuitionistic interpretation, then the conjecture has a canonical intuitionistic proof. Indeed, to assume that the conjecture is true can only mean, from the intuitionistic point of view, to assume that there is such a canonical proof. But the same thing can be said on a realistic interpretation: the conjecture is true if and only if it has a canonical proof. In order to bring out the difference between a realistic and a non-realistic interpretation, we must go beyond the notion of canonical proofs as truth-guaranteeing constructs. In particular, there is nothing in this notion to support the idea that Goldbach's conjecture is theoretically provable if true - the motivation for this idea must be sought elsewhere.

5 The notions of actual and theoretical provability have, according to the preceding argument, an essential openness or indeterminateness. This point will be important in later chapters and deserves closer consideration. The following comments will be restricted to theoretical provability and to problems of elementary arithmetic such as those mentioned by Hilbert in the quoted passage. In the philosophical literature it is widely agreed that theoretical provability cannot be identified with provability in any particular formal system. The usual argument is that any provably valid theory can be extended, e.g. by reflection principles as shown by Gdel, to yield a stronger provably valid theory. The basic reflection principle for a theory T is
There are nowadays striking illustrations of the gulf between actual proofs and canonical proofs. A theorem proved by Friedman (see Harrington et al.) states that a certain existential arithmetical statement which is provable in a few pages in ZFC has no proof in predicative analysis (and a fortiori no computational proof) shorter than 21000] symbols, where the brackets indicate an exponential tower of twos of height 1000.

the assertion that all statements A (here: of elementary arithmetic) provable in T are true. This is not a metaphysical but a mathematical principle, expressible in the schema (R) if #A is derivable in T, then A.

Each instance of (R) is a mathematical statement, in fact a statement of elementary arithmetic, given the restriction to arithmetical statements A and the conditions imposed on T in 3 above. One form of Gdelian extension of T is obtained by adding the instances of (R) as new axioms. Assuming the theory T to be a formalization of evidently valid principles - an example would be Peano arithmetic - the validity of (R) follows from the observation that it only makes explicit our acceptance of the principles embodied in T. It is notable that mathematicians are reluctant to accept arguments along these lines call them arguments by reflection - which have no ordinary mathematical content whatsoever, but yield mathematical conclusions. They are certainly not proofs in the ordinary sense, and if we call (R) provable, the word must be understood in the general sense of 3, i.e. as "mathematically verifiable" or "mathematically knowable". Even so, it is common enough for mathematicians to claim that not even arithmetic is known to be consistent. Since the rules and axioms of Peano arithmetic are not in the least controversial, there is at least an apparent disagreement here concerning the epistemological status of Gdelian extensions. The extent of this disagreement is difficult to estimate because of the prevalence of ritualistic attitudes regarding consistency. Generally speaking, it is not unreasonable to accept a theory in a tentative or more or less pragmatic way without being prepared to assert (R). The reflection principle makes a large global claim for the theory T and is evident only if we have a corresponding global insight into the theory. What I mean by this is illustrated by the axiom schemas of ZFC. The evidence for these schemas derives from the very abstract second order principles: if we have no confidence in these principles, the first order schemas will appear as logically immensely complicated assumptions. On the basis of our familiarity with the use of the schemas we may well regard them, in a tentative way, as acceptable mathematical tools, without being prepared to hold that they are in any sense demonstrably consistent. From a formal point of view, nothing in Gdel's theorem excludes the possibility that the set of theoretically provable statements of elementary arithmetic is recursively enumerable. In the terminology of the debates where this point arises: we may yet be Turing machines. However, the indeterminateness of provability means that there is no well-defined "set of theoretically provable statements", and this is the aspect of provability which is of present concem. The possibility of new concepts and methods being introduced into mathematics is the first source of the indeterminateness of theoretical provability. That this possibility is real

is shown by the growth of mathematics e.g. since Goldbach's conjecture was first formulated. We cannot circumscribe these concepts and methods in any way; they have the same character of invention, creation, and revelation as work in other fields of art and science. This does not by itself imply any indeterminateness in the notion of theoretical provability: we need to invoke Gdel's theorem again to establish that not only actual but theoretical provability has all the indefiniteness of the possible paths of human invention. To speak of the range of mathematical invention is to draw immediate attention to the second source of the indeterminateness of theoretical provability: the non-existence of any absolute standards of evidence for rules and axioms. This point is fully illustrated by the divergent attitudes towards currently formulated principles. There is a standard spectrum of formalized mathematical theories, of increasing degrees of abstraction. At one end we have primitive recursive arithmetic which formalizes "finitary" reasoning; at the other end we have set theories with strong axioms of infinity, often spoken of as "theological". Considering one of these theories T as a machinery for producing arithmetical conclusions, we ask: how convincing is the reflection principle (R), and what kind of justification can we give for it? This question can occasionally be answered by a Hilbert style reduction of T to a weaker theory (at least for some range of arithmetical statements A), the eliminability of the axiom of choice being a well-known example. Another instance of this is the eliminability of classical logic from proofs of arithmetical V3statements. In general, however, (R) has no technical justification, and the informal ("philosophical", "semantical") justifications are rudimentary even when (R) is wholly convincing. On anybody's view, there will be cases where (R) is wholly convincing, or fairly convincing, or not implausible, or highly problematic: there is no theory of mathematical evidence to apply to such cases, and no apparent way of resolving differences of opinion as regards what is or is not evident or acceptable. The point here at issue is whether such differences of opinion can be held to concern questions of fact. For example, is it a question of fact whether we know that ZFC is consistent (albeit without any apodictic certainty) or merely believe it to be so on the basis of "familiarity passing as evidence", a mistaken assimilation of the infinite to the finite, or something similar? Without arguing the point I submit that it is not; that standards of knowledge, in mathematics no less than elsewhere, can and must be understood and discussed without presupposing a timeless or absolute distinction, founded in the nature of things, between what is known and what is merely accepted. This being so, the question whether a statement A can be known, i.e. is provable in the widest sense, need not in general have any determinate answer, known or unknown. It was suggested in 1.4 that it is uncontroversial that provability is an essentially open notion. This remark must now be qualified. There is general agreement that provability is an open concept in the sense that there is no well-defined totality of

allowable methods and principles to be used in proofs. This corresponds to what I called the first source of the indeterminateness of theoretical provability. In a similar vein, it has often been observed in other contexts that we cannot in any informative way circumscribe the possibilities of solving theoretical or technical problems, or of obtaining new knowledge. There is also wide agreement that there are no absolute standards of evidence in mathematics. On the other hand it is not unusual for philosophers or mathematicians to speak about proofs in notably objectivistic and absolute terms, especially when putting forth the view that truth in mathematics means provability. Thus Prawitz suggests that we may reasonably assume an "objective realm of proofs" in terms of which we can understand ordinary references to the truth or falsity of mathematical statements. For example, the hypothesis or postulate that the arithmetical theorems of ZFC are true is taken to mean that each such theorem "can be proved" in the sense of having a proof in this objective realm. The proofs are here "canonical proofs", and as noted in 4, the philosophical import of this scheme depends on how the canonical proofs are conceived. If they are themselves formally defined mathematical objects, nothing in my previous comments contradicts the description of the totality of canonical proofs as forming an "objective realm of proofs". Prawitz's canonical proofs are not of this kind; they are "related to our recognitional capacities". In particular, a proof of an arithmetical statement VxP(x) is not a mere function or algorithm which yields a proof of P(n) given n, but a "method for which it recognized that" it yields a proof of P(n) given n. As an example, consider the proof by reflection that every numerical equation provable in ZFC is true. The function or algorithm involved is trivial: given a derivation in ZFC of a numerical equation, we obtain a proof of its truth by carrying out the computation. To have a "method" we must recognize that this function does what is required; i.e. the whole substance of the canonical proof lies in the unspecified "recognition". Hence the idea that such proofs can be thought of as forming an "objective realm", and that the truth or falsity of mathematical statements, understood in such terms, is timeless depends heavily on (among other things) the notion that there is an objective and timeless distinction between genuine insight or recognition and mere conviction or acceptance. In support of the view that it is makes good sense to quantify over a timeless domain of canonical proofs, Prawitz cites as an example of similar quantification over "methods" the observation that there may exist "a specific method for curing cancer, which we may discover one day, but which may also remain undiscovered". Now in practice it is a very delicate and difficult question whether or not something is a method for curing cancer, but the natural view is certainly that it is a question of fact. In justification of this natural view I would point to the distinction between having cancer and not having cancer: this is a perfectly objective distinction (in the metaphysical sense of being independent of what, if anything, we think about the matter) and a genuine method for curing cancer is a
Prawitz, 7.

procedure by which an organism is transformed from the first state to the second. In the case of the "methods" that constitute canonical proofs the situation is very different. A genuine method would serve to transform an organism, e.g. me, from a state of ignorance or unjustified affirmation to a state of knowledge and insight: the distinction between these states is not (according to the remarks above) an objective one in the strong metaphysical sense here at issue.

6 The considerations of 5 have no application in problem solving. Take for example the classical problem mentioned by Hilbert regarding the existence of infinitely many Fermat primes (primes of the form 2n+l). In seeking a solution to this problem we have no need to stop and reflect on the lack of any absolute standards of evidence, or on the essential openness of mathematical proof. Certainly we do not, in seeking a proof, presuppose that the existence or validity of proofs is an objectively determinate matter. Our business in solving the problem is to find, or invent, or construct - each term is equally acceptable - a proof by which the problem is settled. Once a proof has been found we may appropriately consider its epistemological merits or problematic aspects. It would be surprising if the problem of the Fermat primes turned out to require problematic principles for its solution, but there is no point in speculating on this interesting possibility in advance of having any proof. A practically minded mathematician may well wonder, therefore, what is supposed to be the point of emphasizing the openness and indeterminateness of provability. The point is a simple one: I want to bring out our realistic preconceptions or attitudes by contrasting truth and provability. Whether or not it is provable that there are infinitely many Fermat primes is, in the sense indicated above, a question which may have no other answer than that which we decide to give it (and thus perhaps none). Whether or not there are infinitely many Fermat primes, on the other hand, is quite independent of the obscure and more or less subjective questions of what is evident or valid: it is, quite simply, a question of mathematical fact, and there is nothing subjective or indeterminate about it So, at least, goes the realistic view. And to the extent that we incline to this view, we distinguish between truth and provability in mathematics in a realistic way. The role and importance of this realistic attitude in our thinking is the subject of the next chapter.


In speaking of realism and anti-realism as metaphysical doctrines or attitudes, I use the word in an imprecise but I believe standard sense. Metaphysics, particularly in its ontological aspect, is concerned with the question of what there is, what is real or objective, what belongs to the nature of things and what is human invention, imagination or convenience. Today few philosophers seek or expect a comprehensive answer to this metaphysical question, and many prefer to frame their metaphysical concerns in more sober and perhaps scientific terms. Still, I believe most people would agree that recognizably metaphysical views play an important role in both everyday and philosophical or scientific concerns. In this chapter an attempt will be made to substantiate the claim that (a modest and limited form of) mathematical realism plays such a role. The words "true" and "truth" figure very largely in debates over realism and indeed in philosophical discussion in general. In this essay the words "true" and "false" will always be understood as though explained through Tarskian equivalences #A is true if and only if A, #A is false if and only if it is not the case that A, where A is a statement and #A an expression designating A. This is a kind of minimal use of "true" and "false". In any standard use of these words, the Tarskian equivalences will hold; in the minimal use, they fully explain the terms. In so far as the word "truth" is not interpretable as "true statement" it will be explained in context in the following. This policy is not based on any "redundancy theory of truth" or on any kind of theory. My motives are wholly practical. The philosophical use of the terms "true" and "truth" is very convenient, very natural, and imbued with countless associations. It is never very clear just what is at issue when one relies on these associations in philosophical discussions. To avoid the free use of this terminology is not to dismiss or resolve any of the "problems of truth", "theories of truth", "notions of truth", etc, but to try to force the treatment of these problems, theories, notions into a less facile mold.

I will give a few examples of what I regard as the drawbacks of the free use of "true" and its cognates. The convenient term "truth conditions" is often used. When one speaks of the "truth conditions" of a statement "obtaining" or "not obtaining" there is the suggestion of some background matrix of factual circumstances or states of affairs in terms of which the statement is to be understood. In the Tractatus the states of affairs are explicitly postulated, and every meaningful statement has truth conditions, determined by its relation to elementary propositions. In ordinary philosophical usage, the term is used without any explicit commitment to a metaphysics modelled on the propositional calculus, but with a definite ontological slant Inspection reveals that the use of the term is guided by tacit restrictions on the allowable "conditions" together with the requirement that a specification of the truth conditions of a statement should allow us to make immediate sense of the negation of the statement in terms of those same conditions. This requirement is not explicitly stated, but is implicit in the terminology: "the truth conditions of A do not obtain" is the obvious negation of "the truth-conditions of A obtain". Thus one "specifies truth conditions" by giving equivalences subject to these restrictions, and when such equivalences are hard to find there is said to be a problem concerning the truth conditions of the statements in question (e.g. ascriptions of responsibility or belief statements). What is usually missing is any explicit consideration of what restrictions apply to the "conditions" and why the statements at issue should have truth conditions. Thus guiding assumptions are left unarticulated and unexamined and act through a terminology which is used as though it were self-explanatory. Again, consider the debates over whether "the notion of truth" has a place in physics, or ethics, or mathematics. Such debates often rely heavily on unstated formal or traditional attributes of "the notion of truth". Simply because of the form of "A is true", it is apparently incumbent on us, if we use this locution, to be able to make equally good sense of "A is not true", "if A is true...", "A is known to be true" etc. Also there is a traditional suggestion that "truths" properly so-called are in some sense statements of fact; that the question "is A true?", if at all admissible, must admit a clearcut answer. Here too a number of ill-defined and unargued requirements are expressed in a too convenient way. It is not surprising that scientists tend to shy away from talk of truth. Bondi's remark that "my own inclination is that science has nothing to do with truth" is not untypical, and sometimes such declarations are made with a great deal of satisfaction in spite of being quite absurd. If science has nothing to do with truth there can be no conflict - so one would imagine - between e.g. astronomical and geological history and cosmology and other stories of what the world is and was like. This is not in practice the attitude of scientists, but the easy dismissal of "truth" is not usually accompanied by any more illuminating (and demanding) reflections on what is and is not claimed for science. This negative reliance on the terms "true" and "truth" is just as unsatisfactory as the idea that
Bondi, p.3.

the mere use of the term "true" allows one to put meaningful and important questions about scientific theories ("is the theory of relativity true"?). I am not proposing to reject such questions as "What is mathematical truth?" or formulations of metaphysical views such as "mathematical truth is independent of provability". My point is that we need to unpack these formulations and be explicit both about the unstated constraints and assumptions suggested by the terminology, and about the problems addressed.

The more specific definition of what constitutes a realistic interpretation or use of mathematical statements to be given in 3 has three general characteristics: (i) The emphasis is on undecided statements, rather than on theorems or assertions; (ii) realism is taken to begin with computational (finite) mathematics; (iii) realism is not taken to be tied to any particular analysis or explanation of mathematical statements. In the next few pages some motivation will be given for these characteristics. In his Apology, Hardy comments as follows: It may be that modem physics fits best into some framework of idealistic philosophy -1 do not believe it, but there are eminent physicists who say so. Pure mathematics, on the other hand, seems to me a rock on which all idealism founders: 317 is a prime, not because we think so, or because our minds are shaped in one way rather than another, but because it is so, because mathematical reality is built that way. These comments are open to criticism. No idealist would claim that 317 is a prime because we think so; that 317 is a prime "because it is so" is on the face of it a vacuous observation. But Hardy's remarks have a point that has been frequently overlooked. Consider the classical question - intensively treated in the philosophical literature - of the status of the equation "7+5=12". Is this equation conventional or factual, analytic or synthetic, a truth of logic, a regulative principle, a rule concerning the use of signs? The lengthy and intricate investigations of such questions can presumably be extended to cover "317 is a prime". Clearly these investigations are a great deal more sophisticated and informative than Hardy's remark. Yet it seems to me that they fail to come to grips with the substance of the observation that 7+5 equals 12 or 317 is a prime "because it is so, because mathematical reality is built that way". The reason for this failure is that they ignore the question of the status of extremely lengthy computations or of computational statements not known to be decidable. "7+5=12" and "317 is a prime" are special in being
Hardy [2], p.l30.

easily verified - as is e.g. the statement "the Statue of Liberty is larger than a banana". In practice such statements may function as "rules of language", but does this tell us anything about the metaphysical status of arithmetical equations or size comparisons? I don't believe it does: it is only when we turn to contexts where the truth or falsity of a computational statement is more or less an open question that we can properly appreciate Hardy's remark. For a formulation of a realistic view, therefore, we replace "317 is a prime" with the statement 5 5 r-RN 5 5 7 +7 7 7 + 1 is a prime.

The realistic attitude expressed by Hardy must now be worded a bit differently: whether or not (B) is true is quite independent of what we believe about it; it is a question of mathematical fact. If we ask what makes it true (if true) or false (if false) we can only give some variant of this trivial answer: the mathematical facts. "Mathematical reality is built that way." This is the realistic attitude towards computational statements. It has nothing to do with any insistence on the impossibility or irrationality of denying arithmetical truths, or on the certainty or incorrigibility of mathematical knowledge. It is largely independent of whether the rules of arithmetic are characterized as conventional or factual, analytic or synthetic, since the truth or falsity of (B) is an open question whatever the character of those rules. According to a widespread line of thought there is no metaphysically essential difference between (B) and "317 is a prime", since (B) is after all decidable in principle if not in fact. This view is associated with the traditional doctrine that there is a great metaphysical gulf between the finite and the infinite. The accompanying tendency to dismiss distinctions within the realm of the finite as inessential makes it difficult to appreciate the highly abstract character of (B). R.O.Gandy highlights this abstract character in dramatic terms in his remark that "statements such as (B) bear a closer resemblance to, say, the continuum hypothesis than they do to '2+2=4'.Dramatic terms are not uncalled for, since there is a tradition among constructivistically inclined philosophers of not only minimizing but ignoring the difference between actual and theoretical decidability. This tradition was initiated by Brouwer, who simply stated that "in so far as only finite discrete systems are introduced, the investigation whether an embedding is possible or not can always be carried out and admits a definite result", and continued e.g. by Dummett, who remarks in passing that we can "if we choose" or "at
Gandy, p.l32.

will" determine the truth value of (in principle) decidable statements.^^ Hence there is every reason to reiterate the simple point that a computational statement such as (B) is no easier to settle and no more guaranteed to be decidable than any other mathematical statement. The essential difference between (B) and "317 is a prime" in the present context is that a claim such as "whether or not 317 is a prime is a question of mathematical fact" can be replaced by a computation showing that 317 w a prime. The computation is concrete and more convincing than any philosophical argument. A realistic attitude towards (B) cannot be backed up in this way; we cannot pass from words to deeds. To say that we can do so "in principle" is pointless. Consider the following parable: a box is found. X expresses a conviction that the box contains a banana. Challenged to support this conviction he opens the box, and it proves to contain a banana. Another box is spotted on the moon; X expresses a conviction that it contains an apple. True, he can't back up this conviction by opening the box and exhibiting the apple, but, he argues, since he could in principle do so, there is no essential difference between the two cases. The reflection that we could in principle back up our realistic attitude towards (B) by means of a computation has a circularity analogous to that of X's argument, since it is merely invokes our realistic attitude towards a mathematical reformulation of (B). Computational statements can be formulated in different ways. It suffices to consider an example here (rather than systematic formulations of arithmetic). The statement "k is a prime" can be interpreted (with a suitable algorithm or set of rules): it is not the case that there exist two natural numbers m and smaller than k such that m*p=k; it is mathematically impossible to divide k apples equally between fewer than k individuals; a computation in accordance with the algorithm , would, if carried out, yield the result "k is a prime"; "k is a prime" is a consequence of the rules . These different formulations are not only mathematically but metaphysically equivalent. It is true that philosophers have attached great significance to formulations of arithmetical statements in terms of rules or possibilities, and not without justification. To mention just
20 Brouwer [3], p.l09; Dummett [1], p.374, p.385; [2], p.lOl. Brouwer adds in a footnote: "This investigation can even in every case be made by a machine or by a trained animal, it does not require the basic intuition of mathematics, living in a human mind,"

one point, the reformulations make it clear that a preoccupation with the question of the existence of the natural numbers is unlikely to improve our philosophical understanding of arithmetic. From the point of view of anti-realism, however, or to the "metaphysicallyminded", all formulations are equally problematic if interpreted realistically. For example, the third formulation must not be interpreted to mean that an actual attempt to carry out the computation would yield any result at all. The hypothetical computation which establishes whether or not k is a prime is (for large k) as much an abstract mathematical object as the series of natural numbers smaller than k. That such computations "admit a definite result" or yield a determination of the truth value of "k is a prime" is only another formulation of the assertion that the truth or falsity of "k is a prime" is settled by the mathematical facts. Considered from the point of view of realism, the different formulations are also interchangeable. In saying that the truth or falsity of (B) is settled by the mathematical facts, we need not impose any particular analysis on (B). To do so would be arbitrary, since there is nothing in the realistic attitude which either depends on or makes use of the differences between different natural formulations of mathematical statements. Of course, this is true not only of computational statements, but of mathematical statements in general, although there are fewer natural reformulations of more abstract statements. One of the convenient aspects of formulating metaphysical views as claims concerning the nature of mathematical truth is that it allows us to put forward e.g. a realistic view without having to presuppose any analysis of mathematical statements. Hardy exploits this aspect to the limit in the following passage:^^ It seems to me that no philosophy can possibly be sympathetic to a mathematician which does not admit, in one manner or another, the immutable and unconditional validity of mathematical truth. Mathematical theorems are true or false; their truth or falsity is absolute and independent of our knowledge of them. In some sense, mathematical truth is part of objective reality. In asserting that different formulations - modal, ontologicai, hypothetical - of mathematical statements are equivalent from the point of view of mathematical realism, I follow this inclination to separate the realistic attitude from realistically inspired interpretations of mathematical statements, theories of mathematical objects, etc. One consequence of this separation is of course that realism does not even have the appearance of a theory of mathematics.

21 Hardy [1], p.4.

In order to isolate some type of context in which a realistic view plays an essential role, consider again the argument concerning unsolvability at the end of 2.2. It was noted there that a consistently intuitionistic interpretation of mathematical statements is not easily joined to the notion of an essential obstacle to solving a mathematical problem. This was the conclusion drawn from the apparent demonstration that Goldbach's conjecture cannot be intuitionistically undecidable. A closer examination of the argument reveals what I believe to be a crucial manifestation of a realistic view. The central point of the argument is the observation that (*) if there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture, then the conjecture is in principle decidable. It is this observation (*) that is incompatible, not only with a consistently intuitionistic interpretation of arithmetic, but with any thoroughgoing anti-realism. Of course (*) taken out of context can be interpreted in different ways. In particular we may apply the usual intuitionistic interpretation of implications: a proof that there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture can be transformed into a proof that the conjecture is in principle decidable. Such implications are considered in the "theory of the creative subject". On this interpretation (*) is presumably valid, independently of the logical form of Goldbach's conjecture. A second possible interpretation of (*) consists in equating it with the mathematical observation that Goldbach's conjecture (because of its logical form) is refutable in a simple formal theory if false. In the argument of 2,2, however, the statement "there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture" occurs as a factual assumption. This is the notion now to be explained, and to be used in the following to spot manifestations of a realistic view. There are two characteristics of the use of a mathematical statement as a factual assumption in the present sense. First, the statement is presented as having nonmathematical consequences or, more generally speaking, as having a bearing on nonmathematical matters. Examples of what this means will be given below. Second, the statement is assumed to be true without being assumed to be (actually) provable. "Assumed" is used here in a wide sense. The statement may be used as the antecedent of a hypothetical statement; it may be entertained as a possibility; it may be introduced as a background assumption or in explicit justification or explanation of some assertion or procedure. In the argument of 2.2, one assumes that there exists a counterexample to

Goldbach's conjecture and concludes that the procedure of systematically searching for such a counterexample will eventually succeed. The same kind of reasoning is found in the justification for Markov's principle: having excluded the possibility that all numbers lack (the decidable) property P, one concludes that a number with property can be found. Intuitionistically, this reasoning fails on several counts. For an explanation of why I take the use of factual assumptions to be the hallmark of realism, consider the distancing view described in 1.2, On this view, there is no problem with an assumption made in the course of a mathematical argument. For example (moving to "theological" mathematics for emphasis), the assumption that there is a strongly compact cardinal makes perfectly good sense as a mathematical assumption, i.e. one whose consequences and (in this case) degree of mathematical acceptability are to be explored. In a mathematical context it would be out of place to introduce the assumption that the existence of a compact cardinal can be proved - indeed such an assumption is highly problematic since no ordinary notion of proof applies to such statements. The case is different if the assumption is made outside mathematics. Since the world of sets is purely "theological" or fictitious, the existence of a strongly compact cardinal cannot sensibly be assumed to have an impact on the real world. The assumption that there is such a cardinal must be understood, in such a non-mathematical context, as tantamount to an assumption that the existence of such a cardinal is in some sense mathematically acceptable. To justify taking the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions to be a characteristic manifestation of a realistic view is a different matter. In order to impose some structure on the argument, I will make the central role of factual assumptions a matter of stipulation: a realistic view in the sense here considered is by definition manifested in the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions. The explicit formulations of realistic views that have appeared above - e.g. the remarks appended to the statement (B) of 2 - now appear as views or impressions naturally put forward in defense or explanation of the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions. This is the "modest and limited" mathematical realism to be considered here. Naturally the interest of mathematical realism in this sense depends on its relations to other more or less well-defined ideas associated with "realism". For convenience below, the term "strong realism" will also be used. For the use of a mathematical statement as a factual assumption to manifest a strongly realistic view, it is required that the statement is not assumed to be theoretically provable. Note that this "strong" realism is still a subspecies of what I have called a "modest and limited" form of realism. The use of existential statements such as "there is a counterexample to Goldbach's

conjecture" as factual assumptions is not ordinarily regarded as objectionable from the point of view of constructivism. To avoid the possibilities of confusion generated by the fact that (*) is itself about provability in principle, consider instead the observation (**) even if there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture, it may be too large ever to be found. This is normally taken to be an unobjectionable observation from a constructivistic point of view. The justification for this is that the existence of a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture can be assumed in (**) to be provable in principle. Standard constructivistic thinking is thus realistic in the present sense, not only with regard to computational statements, but also in observations such as (**). For another example of a statement of this kind (deriving from Wittgenstein), consider (***) if ZF is inconsistent, there is a fundamental error in our thinking, although not necessarily one that affects mainstream mathematics. This reasonable observation again contains a factual assumption of the same logical form as (N). While the observation (*) is usually regarded as constructivistically acceptable, the natural continuation of this observation, (#) if, on the other hand, Goldbach's conjecture is true, then there is no guarantee that it is decidable in principle,

is not, since the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true cannot in (#) be understood as tantamount even to the assumption that it is theoretically provable. In the terminology introduced above: (#) can only be understood as a strongly realistic claim. Consider as a second example the statement (##) if Goldbach's conjecture is true, then no counterexample will ever be found. This statement is again one that is constructivistically unobjectionable. Indeed according to Bishop's version of constructivism, "there are mathematical statements of immediate empirical validity, which say that certain performable operations will produce certain observable results: for instance, the theorem that every positive integer is the sum of four

s q u a r e s . T h e terminology of "immediate empirical validity" will be recognized as a manifestation of the Brouwerian tradition mentioned in 2 above. According to my definition, (##) is a realistic observation if it is not assumed in (##) that Goldbach's conjecture is actually provable, so Bishop's view is probably realistic in this sense. A variant of (##) is the observation that (##)* the fact that no counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture has been found is most simply explained by the assumption that the conjecture is true. For a final example, consider again a part of the comments quoted in 1.2: (###) Of course, as with any axiom, an initial act of faith is required concerning the consistency: we assume that the existence of, say, an inaccessible cardinal does not lead to a contradiction with ZFC. There is nothing in this statement which explicitly excludes that the theory ZFC+"there is an inaccessible cardinal" is assumed to be provably consistent. In the context where it occurs, (###) is nevertheless clearly realistic. The idea is that proofs in the theory ZFI lack significance if the theory is inconsistent. The assumption that the theory is consistent enters into the motivation for pursuing the subject, even though there is no hope of giving any proof of its consistency - hence the "act of faith". As in the case of (##), there is a variant of (###), viz. the observation that z/ZFI is consistent, or more generally, if those axiomatic set theories which we find "pleasing to the intellect" are in fact consistent, then this is a remarkable fact which in some sense must admit an explanation. The statements (*)-(***) and (#)-(###) illustrate the ways in which mathematical statements used as factual assumptions can be presented as having non-mathematical consequences, or a bearing on non-mathematical matters. Two points should be noted. These consequences do not follow by purely logical or mathematical reasoning - naturally enough, since they are non-mathematical in content. They do not involve any action or influence of mathematical objects on our minds, or on the external world.

Bishop, p.l.

4 How essential to our thinking is the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions? It is not a simple matter to answer such questions. Wittgenstein claims that our whole thinking is permeated by the idea of "arithmetic as the natural history (mineralogy) of numbers".^ In an impressionistic way, we can appreciate the justice of this remark simply by reflecting on what sounds natural and familiar to us. Very many such ideas can be formulated. In order to find out in less impressionistic terms how they shape or influence our thinking we must, among other things, be prepared to study special fields of knowledge, consider alternative ideas, take actual history into account. When one is working in the philosophical tradition it is perhaps particularly easy to fall into one or both of two complementary errors. The first is to assume too readily that certain ideas are indispensable foundations or deep convictions or essential assumptions e.g. of "science" or "common sense" or "realism" or "constructivism" or "classical mathematics". The complementary and often concurrent error is to dismiss in a too simple way standard concepts or ideas as philosophically untenable and propose sketchy and untested substitutes. The tendency in both cases is to neglect the actual role of methods and ideas as (perhaps) half-truths or heuristic aids or instruments of interpretation, orientation, and discovery in a complicated world or complicated subject. This said, I must admit that the question posed above will be approached here in a simple and traditional, but I believe not totally inadequate way. To some extent I will rely on an assumed consensus as to the need for realism. This applies in particular to computational statements. The emphasis will be on a consideration of the consequences of ruling out the strongly realistic use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions in the non-finite case, specifically in the case of consistency statements. There are several reasons why consistency statements are important for testing the role of realism. They play an important role in our thinking in non-mathematical contexts, and it has often been noted that it is difficult to take a non-realistic view of them. Frege, in his criticism of the formalist analogy between chess and arithmetic, was perhaps the first to exhibit the mathematical properties of rules (consistency of a formal theory; the unsolvability of a problem in chess) as calling for a realistic interpretation. Wittgenstein (apparently alone among philosophers) was alive to the crucial importance of Frege's criticism and considered the anti-realistic interpretation of consistency statements at length.^"^ Gdel's
23 Wittgenstein [1],IV-11.

second theorem further increases the interest of consistency statements when the relation between mathematical truth and provability is at issue. Perhaps it should be explicitly stated that the preoccupation with consistency statements in the following is not based on the idea that consistency is a sufficient criterion for the adequacy of mathematical theories, or that consistency proofs are important for mathematics. One way of ruling out the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions is to disallow the use of mathematical statements as such in the relevant contexts. Thus in the case of the observation (###) we would have to replace the assumption that ZFI is consistent by the non-mathematical assumption (or act of faith) that no inconsistency in ZFI will ever be encountered. In the same spirit one may embark on an expedition or performance or project on the assumption that nothing will go disastrously wrong. But note that we cannot add that the reason (we assume) why no inconsistency will be encountered is that none exists, for this would be to introduce a mathematical assumption. Similarly we cannot reflect that the simplest explanation of the fact that no inconsistency has emerged is that the theory is consistent. The criticism that an inconsistency may fortuitously escape detection - because it is hard to find or because our mathematical activities are cut short - must be rejected as resting on an attempt to use a mathematical assumption in a non-mathematical context. Or, to take a different but closely related example, the assumption or act of faith that a computer program is correct must be replaced by the assumption that no incorrect result will be computed, and nothing can be made of the criticism that the program may contain a deep hidden error. It is difficult to imagine how we could in practice go about thus relegating mathematical statements to a sphere in which there is no question of their truth or falsity having a bearing on non-mathematical matters. The mathematical properties of rules and machines, procedures and patterns, are too intimately connected with their practical and theoretical interest, utility, and importance. I will return to this point below, but for the moment let us just take for granted that we want to use mathematical statements as assumptions (in the wide sense of 3) in non-mathematical contexts. So the question is what will be the consequences of ruling out the second component of the use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions, i.e. the separation (in the sense explained above) of truth from provability. Turning to the question how observations like (###) fare on a consistently nonrealistic view, some preliminary remarks are in order. It is an essential point that what is at issue is not a strengthening of the assumption that ZFI is ("in fact") consistent to the assumption that ZFI is provably consistent. Consider the question of the existence of an inaccessible cardinal, which was rejected as "meaningless" in the passage from which (###) was taken. This rejection does not mean that the question is regarded as
See in particular Wittgenstein [2], McGuinness, but also Wittgenstein [5].

mathematically meaningless. On the contrary, the assumption that there exists an inaccessible cardinal makes good sense as a mathematical assumption in a mathematical context. On the other hand we cannot assume (according to this view) that an inaccessible cardinal exists and on this basis justify a preoccupation with the theory ZFI. Such a use of the assumption that an inaccessible cardinal exists would be "meaningless" since the objects of infinitistic set theory are mere figments or posits. The assumption that an inaccessible cardinal exists, in such a context, can only be understood as an assumption that inaccessibles can be made palatable or acceptable. We are not strengthening but rejecting the bare assumption that inaccessible cardinals do exist. Similarly in the case of the consistency statement. To reject the realistic use of the assumption that ZFI is consistent is to take the view that this assumption must be replaced by, or must be understood as, an assumption that ZFI can be proved consistent. If we do not appreciate this we will naturally take a dim view of an anti-realistic emendation of (###). Since we neither need, nor have any faith in the assumption that ZFI is provably consistent, why should we not simply assume that ZFI is consistent? It is just this bare assumption of consistency that is acceptable only on a realistic view. Now the assumption that ZFI can be proved consistent, in the sense that the consistency of ZFI is theoretically provable, has a very different character from the (realistically interpreted) assumption that ZFI is consistent. This was the central point of chapter 2. There is a very natural tendency even among those who profess non-realistic views to take for granted that the uncertainties surrounding the notion of proof have no consequences for the interpretation of mathematical statements in ordinary nonmathematical contexts. A reflection such as (###) will not in practice be met by any questions conceming how ZFI can be proved consistent. While natural, this tendency is quite unjustifiable if we reject the realistic use of mathematical statements. If we are to take a consistently non-realistic view, we must be careful in our use of "provably consistent" and "can be proved to be consistent" to avoid the realistic distinction between being consistent and being provably consistent. It would indeed be out of place in a mathematical context to replace the assumption that ZFI is consistent by the assumption that ZFI is provably consistent. The latter assumption is not even a mathematical statement, and cannot be used in any ordinary mathematical argument. (This holds whether or not we adopt a foundational analysis of mathematical statements in terms of proofs.) In (###), however, the consistency of ZFI is not assumed in the course of a mathematical argument, but presented as a necessary condition, assumed to be satisfied, for a preoccupation with the theory to be worthwhile. The fact that we use the consistency statement with ease, and understand it perfectly weU, in a mathematical argument does not imply that we know what this assumption amounts to, any more than a familiarity with set theory implies that we can take in our stride the factual assumption that there exists an inaccessible cardinal. If we now take the non-realistic view that mathematical truth means provability, i.e. that the assumption that ZFI is consistent must here be understood as an

assumption that there is or can be given a consistency proof for ZFI (in the sense of theoretical provability), the consistency assumption becomes heir to all the questions that surround the notion of provability. From a non-realistic point of view, there is of course no reason to deny that we have a very vivid and in practice quite unproblematic conception of searching through the natural numbers or the derivations in ZFI and either coming or not coming across a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture or a contradiction. But we cannot invoke this conception in justification of the factual assumption that ZFI is consistent, any more than we can appeal to a vivid imagination as justifying a realistic view of questions about Sherlock Holmes. Before Gdel it would not have been unreasonable to suppose that an arithmetical Vstatement, if provable, has a proof in some circumscribable and essentially unproblematic class of proofs. Today we know that there is no such relation between proofs and the syntactical form of statements. This point is sometimes obscured by the introduction of canonical proofs, which are defined by recursion on syntactical form. Insofar as canonical proofs are not just truth-guaranteeing constructs, but have the epistemological function of ("in principle") establishing to the satisfaction of an idealized mathematician that a statement is true, the uncircumscribable, subjective, and indefinite aspects of provability have merely been tucked away in the (often tacit) conditions on the "functions" or "methods". Of course, adherents of the notion of canonical proof are well aware of this, but may still occasionally make an unwarranted appeal to canonical proofs in order to justify the natural view that there is nothing indefinite about the assumption that ZFI is consistent. The observation (###) is (in its original context) incompatible with a non-realistic interpretation in a very direct way: it is assumed, as an "act of faith", that ZFI is consistent, but it is not assumed that ZFI is provably consistent. In the following, (###) will be considered together with the following two less obviously realistic reflections: () the fact that no inconsistency in ZFI has been found is most simply explained by the assumption that no inconsistency exists, i.e. that ZFI is consistent; () if theories such as ZFI are in fact consistent, this can hardly be an accident, but indicates that infinitistic set theory embodies some kind of insight. Most mathematicians who express views similar to (###) - that the consistency of our theories is essentially something we take on faith - would, I believe, be understandably reluctant to assume that ZFI can be proved consistent. There are simply no grounds for such an assumption. It is of course perfectly possible to take the view that the consistency

of ZFI has been proved, viz. by a reflection argument, but the point is that we may or may not want to say this. Many would say that the reflection argument makes it more or less plausible that ZFI is consistent; that the argument does not amount to a proof; that no more conclusive argument is to be expected. If we adopt a non-realistic interpretation of consistency statements, the relation between the use and invention of formal rules and the mathematical properties of those rules takes on unfamiliar aspects. Consider the observation (). Whatever our interpretation of mathematics, it will surely be an unproblematic reflection (one supposes) that the simplest explanation of the fact that no inconsistency in ZFI has been found is that none exists. But if we are not to take a realistic view, the assumption that no inconsistency exists must be understood as an assumption that ZFI is provably consistent. It may appear that this complication is superfluous and unwarranted; that questions of proof are irrelevant to the assumed explanation. On the common view that allows a realistic interpretation of computational statements this will be true if we make an adjustment in the observation: the fact that no inconsistency has been found is most simply explained by the assumption that no inconsistency exists among the theorems provable in fewer than 10^^ steps. The modified observation has its dubious aspects, but if we accept a realistic interpretation of computational statements we can at least understand it without reference to epistemological questions. Thus in standard constructivistic thinking, the "possibility in principle" of making an exhaustive search is all we need to take into account in interpreting the assumption that no inconsistency can be derived in fewer than 10^^ steps. The assumption that no inconsistency can be derived in any number of steps is not open to this interpretation, but must be understood in terms of general theoretical provability. The apparent innocuousness and transparency of () is therefore illusory from the non-realistic point of view here assumed. It is not unproblematic after all to explain the fact that no inconsistency has been found by the assumption that none exists. "If no inconsistency exists, none will be found" is indeed an unproblematic observation in the sense that we can and will make room for it as a trivial truth whatever our interpretation of mathematical statements. In the same sense it is trivially true that if no inaccessible cardinal exists, none will be proved to exist. But this does not mean that it makes any sense to explain the fact that nobody has been able to prove that there are inaccessible cardinals by the assumption that there is no such cardinal. The existence of an inaccessible cardinal is not an ontologicai (i.e. non-epistemological) necessary condition for such a proof to be possible; on the contrary, the assumption that such a cardinal exists can only be understood (again, in a non-mathematical context) as an assumption that its existence is in some sense provable. Hence the proposed explanatory assumption that there is no inaccessible cardinal can be interpreted (according to what we take to be the

scope of the negation) either as an assumption that the existence of an inaccessible cardinal cannot be proved or as an assumption that inaccessible cardinals can be proved not to exist. In either case we are faced with an assumption of doubtful import. So with the use in () of the assumption that ZFI is consistent, i.e. that ZFI can be proved consistent. In a suitable context, the observation () admits a fairly natural non-realistic interpretation: if ZFI can be proved consistent, this must be because its concepts admit a satisfactory interpretation, at least in part. This indeed is a common line of thought among constructivists who propose to salvage whatever is valuable and correct (although poorly presented) in classical abstract mathematics: the genuine insights of classical mathematics can be reformulated as constructive mathematics. But here I have in mind a different context for (). Few people believe that the consistency of strong set theories can be proved, i.e. established by conclusive argument. There are however informal and semiformal justifications and explorations of set-theoretic existence principles in the light of which some principles appear more convincing than others. Cohen (while rejecting settheoretical realism) speaks in this connection of "developing our mystical feeling for which axioms should be accepted".^^ Now if what we (i.e a fairly stable set-theoretical community) find convincing is in fact consistent (and more generally, has only true arithmetical consequences), then we are faced with a remarkable natural phenomenon, a use of mysticism as a source of knowledge. It is not perhaps too far-fetched to compare the contemplation of large infinities to other controversial sources of knowledge not recognized in standard scientific canons (clairvoyance, telepathy, attunement to cosmic forces, etc). In these other cases it will be agreed that i/the conclusions arrived at by such means are (in most cases) true, then some remarkable form of perception or influence is at work, one that may or may not admit an explanation in theoretical terms. But of course this hypothetically worded reflection presupposes that the truth or falsity of the conclusions is an objective matter and conceptually independent of the mysticism. For example, if somebody claims to be able to repeat verbatim every sentence ever spoken by Plato, we agree that this is very remarkable if true. A similar claim concerning Sherlock Holmes is in a different case, since no historical facts determine whether or not Sherlock Holmes actually uttered the undocumented words "Watson, there is a boiled egg in my slipper". Also, somebody who claims to be able to tell the color of people's souls at a glance will evoke littie interest if we are disinclined to believe that the distinction between red souls and green souls has any foundation in fact. So what are we to say about the case of large set-theoretical infinities? Realistically, and in the observation (), the assumption that the convincing theories are in fact consistent is taken to imply that infinitistic set theory is a source of knowledge or insight (however ill-understood). There is an analogy with the case of clairvoyance etc in that
25 Cohen [2], p.l5.

there is no guarantee whatsoever that the steps involved in gaining this knowledge can be made clear to us or are amenable to theoretical treatment From a non-realistic viewpoint, we must remember that the assumption that ZFI is consistent can only mean that the consistency statement can be proved to the satisfaction of an idealized mathematician, and the question of what is to be counted as a proof here includes the question of the acceptability of various axioms of infinity. That is, since there is no other truth of the matter regarding the consistency or inconsistency of ZFI than that which follows from mathematical principles which we accept as valid (e.g. reflection principles), the comparison with the use of clairvoyance to predict the weather (or of quantum mechanics to explain macroscopic effects) is quite inappropriate. The claim here put forward is that the statements (###), (), () are representative of a realistic outlook on consistency statements - what Wittgenstein called "the extensional viewpoint" - which is in practice universal. Because this outlook is so firmly established it is difficult to estimate the consequences or feasibility of abandoning it. My claim for the present exposition is chiefly to have put the question of what realism amounts to on a more satisfactory footing than is afforded by standard formulas regarding the applicability of classical logic. At the outset of the discussion of the last few pages, I introduced and set aside a purportedly especially radical non-realistic view which would disallow the use of mathematical statements as such in the contexts at issue. In view of the preceding argument, what is characteristic of this first view, as set out above, is rather that the mathematical statements are replaced by empirical ones ("no inconsistency will be encountered", "all computations will yield the expected results"). For the non-realistic interpretation considered in subsequent pages requires that mathematical assumptions must be understood as provability assumptions, and, as has been noted previously, the statement "ZFI is provably consistent" is not after all a mathematical statement A final matter which must be touched on here is the special place of (mathematical statements inte retable in) elementary arithmetic in realistic thinking. It is not difficult to find contexts in which non-arithmetical mathematical statements are presented as having a bearing on non-mathematical matters. The properties of differential equations are routinely related to actual events; mathematical hypotheses are invoked in explanation of cosmological observations. Since provability is seldom relevant in such contexts, they are prima facie instances of a realistic use of mathematical statements. In these cases, however, we perceive a "mathematical model" which, we believe, more or less adequately represents events in the physical world. Thus in the observation that whether or not the solar system is stable depends on the properties of a set of mathematically defined trajectories, we are tacitly saying "according to the present model", and do not suppose that the truth or falsity of a mathematical statement bears directly on the physical world. In

the case of elementary arithmetic, the "mathematical model" is all but inseparable from the non-mathematical side of things, and appears to us only as an obvious "idealization". The mathematical model of the rules by which we actually perform computations or program computers or derive conclusions is no more than an explicit formulation of the rules which we or the machines follow; the mathematical existence, possibility, and impossibility of results and combinations correspond to theoretical possibilities of and inescapable constraints on any actions that conform to these rules. As noted by Putnam, these notions are closely tied to a "mathematical model" of future time as containing an sequence of moments.^^ These mathematical representations of rules, machines, and possibilities thus occupy a special place in our thinking and are naturally interpreted in a realistic way. Still, the precise force of the intervening qualification "according to the present model" in the non-arithmetical case is a matter for further investigation, and it may well be that there is an essential realistic use of non-arithmetical mathematical statements in science.

5 No reference has been made above to reliance on or acceptance of classical logic or the law of excluded middle as a manifestation of a realistic view. This is because I hold the view that the connection between logic and realism is both obscure and doubtful. Some remarks in explanation and defense of this view follow. For the scope of these remarks, I revert to an informal use of the term "realism". The customary justification for identifying realism with an acceptance of the law of excluded middle is found in the fact that one very natural way of expressing a realistic view is to affirm that a statement is true or false. An example is given by Hardy's remark quoted earlier, or Russell's observation that when we embark upon an investigation, we assume that the propositions concerning which we are enquiring are either true or false; we may find evidence, or we may not. ...At present, we do not know whether there is life elsewhere in the universe, but we are right to feel sure that there either is or is not. Here a tautology - "there either is or is not life elsewhere in the universe" - is used to express what Russell regards as a substantial conviction. This affords no justification for associating the metaphysical conviction with the use of classical logic. In expressions of a fatalistic view of the future one finds assertions of the form "if A then A", but this is not usually taken as indicating that logic rests on fatalism. The two cases may well be
Putnam [2], p.25. Russell, Ch. 10.

different, but we must establish that they are. Merely to rely on the wording of Russell's claim is to stay on the level of Count Korzybski's criticism of such truths of "Aristotelian logic" as "all cows are cows" (no two cows are alike). The criticism may well contain valuable insights, but the association of the criticized views with "logic" is arbitrary. Logic, according to one traditional conception here to be assumed, is a means of drawing conclusions, a tool for reasoning. The question of the validity or acceptability of logical principles is a question of the correctness of arguments in which they are used. This need not be taken to mean that the principles derive their validity from the correctness of the arguments. The point is just that applying logic is not a matter of asserting tautologies; that we must look to the use of logic in reasoning to be able to speak in any sensible way about the validity, intelligibility, or justifiability of classical or intuitionistic or any other logic. Just what is required for an argument to be correct, justifiable or intelligible will depend on how we interpret the statements involved, on background knowledge and assumptions, and on other factors. As a corrective to the identification of tautologies with metaphysical claims it suffices to direct one's attention towards the actual use and application of logic in reasoning. One of the first things one observes from this point of view is that realistic ideas and claims occur in all kinds of discourse, but reasoning using classical logic in any clear sense is very difficult to find outside mathematics. Where, for example, in reasoning about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe does one use classical logic? It is natural to assume that a realistic view of such questions will influence our reasoning about them, but how it influences reasoning is a difficult and largely unexplored question, Brouwer (whose conception of logic is consonant with that expressed above) provides the typically robust suggestion that paleontology, cosmology, and judicial procedure are based on a reliance on the law of excluded middle in an "extended form". What he has in mind is reasoning by which "an earlier event is assumed to have taken place, not only on the basis of the absurdity, but also on the basis of the practical impossibility of finding another explanation of some established fact."^ For example, it is argued that a crater was caused by a meteorite, not because it is absurd to suppose that it was not so caused, but because we can think of no other reasonable explanation of the crater. This is an interesting suggestion, and it may well be that such reasoning can be understood and justified only on a realistic interpretation of the subject matter. The use of the law of excluded middle in formulations of realistic views tells us nothing about these matters. The complexities of the question of the role realism plays in non-mathematical reasoning may appear to be resolvable in the case of mathematics, where there is no difficulty in seeing how classical logic is used. The standard view in the constructivistically oriented literature is simply that the use of classical logic, unless
Brouwer [2], p.423.

conjoined to some radical reinterpretation of that logic, presupposes a realistic interpretation of mathematics. As explained in chapter 1, this standard view is inadequate in a very general way. It overlooks the possibility of reasoning about mathematical structures in objectively oriented terms without supposing them to be other than figments of our collective mathematical imagination. Or, if not overlooked, this possibility is simply dismissed. Some of the ideas that inspire this outlook will be criticized in chapter 4. I am not suggesting that there is no problem of justifying the use of classical logic in mathematics. As noted in 1.2, mathematics is not only a matter of investigating the figments of our imagination; both the applications of mathematics and the realistic interpretation of parts of mathematics which we almost inevitably adopt give rise to questions of validity and justifiability that are not settled by the observation that the mathematical edifice is "pleasing to the intellect," The use of logic, whether classical or intuitionistic, thus stands in prima facie need of justification, as part of the general mathematical apparatus. It is only a very slight exaggeration to say that we have no inkling of how to provide any such justification; that all traditional philosophies of mathematics, whether Platonistic or constructivistic, shed very little light on the nature of mathematics and its relation to man and the world.


Realism and anti-realism have in recent years been asscx:iated with the concept of a theory of meaning, chiefly through the work of Michael Dummett. In this chapter some fragmentary and not very theoretical views on the relation of realism to questions about meaning will be presented in the course of a criticism of this association. Although the argument of this chapter is largely based on Dummett's and Dag Prawitz's writings, the details of their expositions will not be introduced, but only a loosely formulated view which I hope faithfully reflects essential aspects of those expositions. The word "realism" will be used in this chapter, not in the special sense given to it in 3,3, but as a general philosophical term. The view to be criticized ("the meaning-theoretical doctrine") is the following. A language (a natural language as a whole, or some restricted language such as the language of mathematics) should admit a theory of meaning. This theory should be molecular in the sense of representing the meaning of a complex expression in terms of the meanings of its constituents. Broadly speaking, the meaning of an expression should be a matter of how it is used. An essential part of the theory is a representation of the knowledge of meaning which constitutes understanding the language. This knowledge must be implicit knowledge, manifested in practical capacities, A verificationist theory of meaning takes the meaning of a statement to be determined by what counts as a direct verification of it - a special part or aspect of its use. Accordingly, understanding a statement is taken to consist in knowing what counts as a direct verification of the statement. If we take a realistic view of the statements of the language, the theory of meaning must take a different form: since the truth or falsity of a statement A is determinate whether or not A is verifiable or falsifiable, the meaning of A cannot be given by saying what counts as a verification (or falsification) of it, but must be conceived of as determined by the truth conditions of A. According to such a classical theory of meaning, understanding A thus consists in knowing the truth conditions of A, Since these truth conditions are not obviously tied in any systematic fashion to the use of statements, a classical theory of meaning is at least on the face of it in conflict with the principle that meaning is determined by use and knowledge of meaning must be manifested in practical capacities. The last point (stated here in a weak version) will be considered from a different point

of view in chapter 5. The impression that realism presupposes an ineffable, incommunicable, and unleamable insight or understanding has deep roots and is not tied to the meaning-theoretical doctrine. My criticism of this doctrine can be briefly stated. "Meaning" and "understanding" are two of the most multifariously used terms in the language, and it is not to be expected that any "theory of meaning" of whatever kind will shed light on every important use of these terms. In particular it is on the face of it extremely implausible that metaphysical disputes over the interpretation of mathematical and other statements have any great relevance for a theory of meaning and understanding as natural phenomena. There is nothing in the meaning-theoretical doctrine to lessen this implausibility. To associate realism with large claims concerning the nature of meaning and understanding is a mistake both in metaphysics and in the philosophy of language.

The idea of a theory of meaning is based on very general observations concerning language. For example: people do learn to understand a language and to use it successfully in communication. Once they know the language they are able to understand and produce an indefinite range of statements. It is essentially on the basis of such observations that it is assumed, in the meaning-theoretical doctrine, that the understanding of a language can be represented as a (practical or "implicit") knowledge of some set of rules or principles by which the meaning of an expression in the language is determined. This reasonable assumption is also made in linguistic semantics, in artificial intelligence, and in other disciplines that seek a theoretical understanding of language. A distinctive feature of the meaning-theoretical doctrine is the view that there is a close connection between the metaphysical ideas associated with realism and anti-realism and the question of the form of such a representation. The classical and the verificationist suggestions as to the form of a theory of meaning, which play such a large role in the meaning-theoretical doctrine, have obvious and wellknown weaknesses. That the meaning of a statement is determined by or consists in its truth conditions, and to understand a statement is to know its truth conditions, sounds reasonable in a general way. "To understand a statement is to know how things are if they are as they are said to be in the statement." While reasonable, such formulas are unilluminating. They lack substance unless supplemented by some "theory of truth conditions". As noted in 3.1, talk of truth conditions is not usually backed up by any informative definition or analysis of this notion.

The uninformative character of the classical principle is illustrated by the fact that it occurs e.g. in Waismann's notes: "A person who utters a proposition must know under what conditions the proposition is to be called true or false... To understand a proposition means to know how things stand if the proposition is true."^^ These remarks are coupled, however, with the verificationist doctrine that "the sense of a proposition is the way it is verified." The classical principle (when contrasted with a verificationist theory of meaning) is therefore usually supplemented by the statement that the truth conditions may be, and in some cases are, "recognition-transcendent". That is, the "conditions" are not to be understood as states of knowledge, information, or perception, but in a general ontologicai sense, as when we speak of the conditions obtaining in far places. But this additional piece of information by itself does little to give any substance to the classical suggestion. The verificationist suggestion is much more specific than the classical principle. Observations concerning the possibilities of verifying a statement are often illuminating, and it seems reasonable to suggest that the concept of verification should play a role in a theory of meaning. However, the verificationist suggestion as it stands absurdly exaggerates the role of verification. For one thing, the notion of direct verification has very limited application. To take the present essay as an example, there is hardly a statement in it of which it makes any obvious sense to say that it has been or will be or can be directiy verified. That we understand these statements in so far as we know what counts as a direct verification of them is not a useful suggestion. In the case of mathematics, the "direct verification" of a mathematical statement is identified with a "canonical proof of the statement. Verifications in the sense of proofs indisputably play a large role in mathematics. Even so, the appeal to direct verifications is very dubious even in the mathematical case. This notion is needed because the possible proofs of any one mathematical statement form an indeterminate and essentially open totality. If the meaning of a mathematical statement is to be determined by the procedures for verifying the statement, and our understanding of it to consist in our knowledge of those procedures, then some "canonical" procedures must be singled out. But there are no such canonical and meaning-determining ways of proving mathematical statements, or if there are, mathematicians don't know about them. This at least is the obvious reply to the assertion that e.g. the meaning of Poincar's conjecture is determined by what counts as a canonical proof of the conjecture. Here we must recall, however, that the mathematician's knowledge of what counts as a canonical proof of Poincar's conjecture is implicit knowledge, manifested in practical capacities, and that canonical proofs are not actual proofs but theoretical constructs, so appearances are perhaps misleading. To give any substance to all this, one would have to specify some such canonical proofs and explain how meaning and knowledge of meaning (thus conceived) is communicated and
McGuinness, p.244.

manifested. This program has not been carried through. The non-mathematician's understanding of mathematical statements - usually ignored in this context - is difficult to relate to proofs at all. People in general have a very extensive understanding of mathematical statements (by any ordinary criteria) although they know next to nothing about proofs. Proof by induction, for example, is after all a recondite notion; it is much more difficult to recognize a proof of the commutatitivity of addition as a proof than it is to recognize that addition is commutative. The verificationist suggestion conceming meaning and understanding in mathematics becomes much more intelligible when taken for what it is in practice, viz. a suggestion conceming the foundations of constructive mathematics. That is, we start from the stipulation that statements are to be understood and explained in verificationist terms and seek a systematic development of constructive mathematics on this basis. We need not invoke any claims to the effect that knowledge of canonical proofs is manifested in our mathematical activity, that learning or understanding "consists in" this or that, or the other ill-founded ingredients of a verificationist theory of meaning. On the contrary, the verificationist interpretation is explicitly introduced and discussed, and used as a means of arriving at a satisfactory understanding of constructive mathematics. It is often said that a theory of meaning is not only descriptive but normative; that the search for a theoretical account of meaning and understanding may itself influence mathematical practice. Thus in the present case we find that we can formulate a satisfactory - i.e. verificationist - theory of meaning for constructive but not for classical mathematics, and so have grounds for preferring the former to the latter. But this is a very inaccurate description of the situation. Certainly one may argue from verificationist premisses that e.g. classical mathematics is ill-understood, and introduce "theories of meaning" with a view to improving or making explicit our understanding of a language. This kind of activity is far removed, however, from the ostensible starting point of the idea of a theory of meaning, viz. the desire to give a theoretical illumination of striking facts conceming the use and understanding of language. No matter how satisfying, wellfounded, and clarifying a verificationist interpretation of a language, it is useless as an explanation of those facts if we cannot represent in verificationist terms what people leam, communicate, use, etc. when they leam, understand, and use a language. Consider, as an analogous case, the debates over the meaning of quantum mechanics. On the one hand we have a theory and a language which are taught and used in communication, in applications, in theorizing. On the other hand we have the oft-heard claim that nobody really understands quantum mechanics. Such claims are based on ideas conceming what is required for a theory to make sense, to be intelligible, to be "pleasing to the intellect", and may be more or less well-founded. They have no bearing, however, on the question of the nature of the "working understanding" people have of quantum

mechanics. That is, they have no bearing on the question how the theory is in fact learned, taught, understood, applied, i.e. on a "theory of meaning" in the sense of a theoretical representation of the actual mastery of a language. Furthermore, even if we arrive at what we regard as a satisfactory interpretation of quantum mechanics (and thus believe we understand it in the relevant sense of the word), it is another question entirely whether this inte retation could have been used in the course of the development of the theory, or can be used now as the sole interpretation. In summary: both the "verificationist" and the "classical" proposals as to the form of a theory of meaning are all but useless if we seek a theoretical representation of the workings of language. In the case of the verificationist proposal, this fact is often obscured by a tendency to play down or ignore the difference between a verificationist "theory of meaning" in this sense and the use of verificationist interpretations. Some grounds for this opinion have been set forth above, but of course there is much more to be said on both sides. The essential point in the present context is that the inadequacy of these proposals is (or should be) equally striking whatever our metaphysical views. Neither the remarks above, nor the further criticism of the idea of a vrifieationistic meaning theory towards which they point depend on any realistic premisses. The question to be addressed in the remainder of this chapter is how the idea has arisen that realism is tied to the notion of a "classical theory of meaning".

3 A connection between realism, meaning, and understanding is not hard to find: we often use such forms of expression as "on a realistic interpretation", "as classically understood". Most errors regarding the relation between realism and meaning stem, I believe, from the idea that there is some special meaning and a corresponding understanding of e.g. arithmetical statements from which the realistic view of these statements follows, or which justifies a realistic view of the statements. Hence the idea that realism implies that our understanding of the statements "consists in" some "grasp" of truth-conditions. In the following the forms of expression "on a realistic inte retation" etc will be explained very differently. Essentially, the realistic interpretation or realistic understanding of a statement does not consist in any grasp that validates the claim that the statement has a determinate truth-value (or however the realistic view is expressed). Instead this interpretation or understanding is manifest in such contexts as the use of statements as factual assumptions. Consider first the case of computational statements. In any theory of meaning, the meaning of a statement of the form "t is a prime" must vary with the numerical value of

the term t. At least this is so if generally accepted principles concerning meaning are to be upheld. There is no difficulty with representing the meaning of "t is a prime" so as to satisfy this condition. But how are we to represent our understanding of the statement? Or, in the terminology often used in the meaning-theoretical literature, in what does our understanding of the statement "t is a prime" consist? And in particular, in what is it to consist if we are to be justified in holding that the statement has a determinate truth value? For a perspective on these questions, let us introduce some basic Wittgensteinian considerations. On what grounds do we in fact grant that somebody understands a statement of the form "t is a prime"? We do so on very slim grounds: we take it for granted rather than grant it on the basis of some specific tests or observations. What it is we take for granted emerges in the innumerable (actual and possible) situations in which it appears that somebody, as we say, does not understand what "t is a prime" means. There is no well-defined totality of such situations. We can always encounter or imagine new unforeseen ways of talking about primes. Nor are these situations by any means clearcut. If somebody suggests that perhaps is a prime, or speculates on the possibility that 317 was not a prime at the turn of the century, it is a safe bet that he understands "t is a prime" as well as anybody else. Also, understanding is very much a matter of degree, in a qualitative and ill-defined way. We all have a fragmentary or partial understanding of various kinds of discourse: in one context we get along very well, in another we fall flat. To the meaning theorist, observations along the above lines merely underline the complicated nature of the raw material for the theory of meaning. Linguistic competence, the understanding of a language or a segment of a language which holds some (more or less extensive) linguistic community together is indeed a complex phenomenon. It is the task of the theorist to give a well-defined theoretical representation of some aspect of this competence, one in terms of which the linguistic competence as a whole can be described and understood, at least in outiine. The Wittgensteinian considerations do not rule out the possibility of such a theory, but they make it clear that the generalities underlying the idea of a theory of meaning are insufficient to support the further assumptions that are almost automatically made when theories of meaning are under discussion. In particular it is a perfectiy sensible assertion that there is no such thing as "our understanding" of a class of statements. When such a theoretical construct as "the speaker's understanding" is introduced, we must consider carefully what are the aims of the construction and what adequacy criteria to apply in evaluating it. A priori, there is no reason to reject, fiOm the point of view of realism, the claim that our understanding of the language of mathematics consists in a knowledge of some set of rules, or in the ability to recognize canonical proofs, or whatever other suggestion may be made. In the present case the idea is to specify a "realistic understanding" of computational statements; a "knowledge of truth conditions" which not only justifies the claim that such

statements have a determinate truth value but is also an aspect of some practical competence or ability. The literature contains the suggestion that such a knowledge of truth conditions is to be found in the ability to decide, "under suitable prompting", the truth or falsity of a computational statement.^^ That this suggestion is an extreme manifestation of the Brouwerian tradition of ignoring differences within the realm of the finite becomes plain if we consider what, specifically, a realistic understanding of the statement (B) of 3.2 shall be said to consist in. As far as actual computations are concerned, we certainly expect somebody who understands (B) to be able to decide that 11 is a prime and even, at a pinch, that 317 but not 327 is a prime. However, we cannot put very great emphasis on this ability; many mathematicians have difficulties in doing simple sums correctly.^ ^ Nor is the ability to do computations tied specifically to the statement (B): no different "understanding of (B)" will emerge if we replace "5" in the statement by "19". To say that our understanding of (B) consists in an "ability in principle" to verify or falsify (B) is a desperate remedy which appears to imply that we understand (B) in principle although not in fact. The source of these difficulties is a particular interpretation of such observations as (M) on a realistic understanding of (B), its truth or falsity is determined by the mathematical facts whether or not (B) can be proved or disproved. The interpretation is that the "realistic understanding" referred to in (M) is some particular knowledge or "grasp" of the truth conditions of (B), or some "awareness of what it is for (B) to be true", in virtue of which (B), realistically interpreted, has a determinate truth value. Hence the problem of stating what this "grasp" consists in and how it is manifested. In the meaning-theoretical literature much is made of this problem in the case where a non-finitary statement such as Goldbach's conjecture is substituted for (B), since this statement cannot (as far as we know) even in principle be decided by brute computation. This emphasis is motivated by the traditional metaphysical view that a statement can be held to have a determinate truth-value if and only if it is known to be decidable in principle. From the point of view of the theory of meaning, however, the case of (B) is no simpler. The different interpretation of the phrase "on a realistic understanding" here proposed is as follows. In asking whether somebody understands or interprets (B) realistically, we are not concemed with any grasp of truth conditions: the question is whether he uses the statement (B) in a way which presupposes that (B) has a determinate truth value, that its truth or falsity is independent of our knowledge, or that other ideas associated with
Dummett [2], p.82. The story is told that Grothendieck, pressed for an example to illustrate a general result, finally burst out, ', OK, an example! Let be a prime, say 27,...".

realism apply. If he does, his understanding of (B) is manifestiy realistic. Similarly certain uses of (B) make manifest a non-realistic understanding of the statement, whereas in many or most cases there are no grounds for attributing either a realistic or a nonrealistic understanding to a speaker. References to a realistic understanding or interpretation of Goldbach's conjecture or the continuum hypothesis are to be understood in the same way. Indeed this is how such references would normally be understood outside the meaning-theoretical doctrine. The question what a realistic understanding of a class of statements or a theory or a field of knowledge consists in and how it is manifested is answered by an investigation of how realism enters into our thinking. It needs to be underlined that I am not saying that a certain use of mathematical or other statements makes manifest some grasp of truth conditions, possession of a concept of truth, or the like, in virtue of which a realistic attitude is justified or makes good sense. This would indeed be a dubious claim. What I am saying is that there is no such justifying grasp, possession or awareness; nor do we need to suppose that there is. Realism, like verificationism, can be criticized and defended in more or less satisfactory and illuminating ways in many areas of human thought. The invocation of a realistic grasp of truth conditions is one of the least substantial of all attempts in this direction. That there is no justifying grasp does not mean that there is no "grasping" at all, or that introspection does not influence our inclination towards a realistic view of some subject On the contrary, it is plain that what we can visualize or conceive of, what we can imagine doing or observing, what seems clear and unambiguous, plays a large role in our views on what is real, objective, and factual. Such impressions are also often adduced in justification of metaphysical views. Thus Berkeley notes in a satirical vein that infinitesimals of various orders are held to be "clearly conceived and mastered" by the "comprehensive minds" of the mathematicians. A modem author claims that "any welldefined process for constructing sets which has been clearly envisioned without ambiguities or contradictions may be regarded as already completed, regardless of any merely practical difficulties which may prevent one from actually carrying it out", and on this basis puts forth the view that "the continuum hypothesis has a well-determined truth value". To the extent that we find such justifications convincing we do so because of shared inclinations, not because they have any theoretical content.

Pozsgay, pp.322,329.


Mathematical anti-realism was defined in chapter 1 as the view that there can be no other truth of the matter when a mathematical question is raised than that which is explicit or (in a more or less problematic sense) implicit in rules, in meaning, in human actions and inclinations. The slogan "mathematical truth is provability" suggests an anti-realistic doctrine in this sense in so far as provability is taken to turn on rules, meaning, human actions and inclinations. Of course, as noted in connection with canonical proofs in 2.4, rules and meaning can be interpreted as formal mathematical or logical concepts, or as objectively determinate entities in the style of Frege, in which case an attempted reduction of mathematical truth to rules and meaning need not have an anti-realistic character. What I have in mind in my definition is a conception of rules and meaning as generated by, determined by, and manifested in the individual and collective lives of human beings. What is essential to anti-realism is the view that we cannot invoke or refer to any "mathematical facts" above and beyond the facts of human social and intellectual experience and practice. This is the kind of view many take of paradigmatic questions of value (in ethics and aesthetics) and of questions in abstract mathematics. Consider, by way of contrast, the question whether there is life elsewhere in the universe. It would occur to no one to argue that the answer to this question is determinate only to the extent that it is explicit or implicit in "the meaning of the statement", "the intended interpretation", "the rules governing statements of this kind", "our intuitive apprehension of the concepts involved", "the language game in which the statement occurs", "what we actually leam to do", or anything of the kind. Of course questions of meaning can always arise, but they are incidental to the question of the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, which can only be understood as a question of fact. This is true even though "life" may not be a well-defined concept and we can imagine many cases in which the facts do not determine whether or not something is to be called life, but a decision must be made how to apply the term. All our descriptive terms have this openness or indefiniteness to a greater or lesser extent; any question can prompt further questions of interpretation, application, definition. The difference between the question "Is there life elsewhere in the universe?" and the less exciting but more precise question "Are there streptococci elsewhere in the universe?" is negligible for our present purposes. The most obvious and natural justification for taking an anti-realistic view of mathematical questions is that they do not refer to any extemal reality. Objects such as the

set of real numbers and its powerset (central in classical analysis) are patent inventions and abstractions; and what is more, they are a recent product of human thought and we can trace their development. Of course this remark does not dispose of Hermite's view that the numbers and functions of analysis are no less real than the objects studied by zoologists and other scientists. My present point is only that there is no equally easy and natural justification of anti-realism with respect to the statements of elementary arithmetic, for reasons touched on in 3.4. It is only the radical mathematical anti-realism that extends to these elementary mathematical statements that will be considered here. For an initial statement of a view embodying such a radical anti-realism I turn to Wittgenstein's writings. The usual view regarding the point of consistency proofs is that they guarantee that no inconsistency can arise when the rules at issue are applied. As long as we have no consistency proof, we cannot be sure that no inconsistency will crop up (perhaps in a context where it goes unnoticed). To this Wittgenstein replies that an inconsistency may indeed arise, but on the other hand it may not.^^ But here I must make an important point: a contradiction is only a contradiction when it arises. People have the idea that there might at the outset be a contradiction hidden away in the axioms which no-one has seen, like day the hidden contradiction might break out, and then the catastrophe would be upon us. What I am saying is: to ask whether the derivations might not eventually lead to a contradiction makes no sense at all as long as I'm given no method for discovering it. ...There can be no such question as whether we will ever come upon a contradiction by going on in accordance with the rules. I believe that's the crucial point, on which everything depends in the question of consistency. These remarks bring to the fore an important point in the characterization of anti-realism: in what way can the answer to a mathematical question be implicit rather than explicit in rules, meaning, interpretations, etc? Many who profess a constructivist philosophy would unlike Wittgenstein take the view that the inconsistency of ZFI, if the theory is inconsistent, is in an unproblematic sense implicitly determined by the formal rules, even if no inconsistency will in fact ever be produced - a contradiction is "hidden away" in the axioms. Hence the use of "ZFI is inconsistent" as a factual assumption can be regarded as being in accordance with anti-realistic tenets. As this case illustrates, realism and anti-realism are not necessarily incompatible even when only arithmetical statements are at issue. In fact their overlap in the philosophical literature is considerable. There are two main areas of overlap. Many constructivist or formalist lines of thought presuppose a realistic use of mathematical statements in the sense of chapter 3, and insofar as these lines of thought conform to the characterization of
Wittgenstein [2], pp.319,323. See also the discussion between Wittgenstein and Turing in [5].

anti-realism given above, they will count as forms of anti-realistic realism. An antirealistic strong realism emerges whenever it is held that the truth or falsity of a mathematical statement which is not assumed to be theoretically provable or disprovable is nevertheless in some sense determined by the "meaning" of the statement, or "the intended interpretation", or something similar. Thus critiques of (strong) realism contain such (ambiguous) formulations of the criticized view as "we bestow upon our mathematical statements a meaning which renders them determinately true or false" and "the rule of expansion implicitly determines the answer to all questions about the series"; but one also finds actual claims to the effect that "our intuitive understanding of the axioms" determines the truth or falsity of (formally undecided) statements. The argument of the present chapter can be summed up as follows. On the basis of Wittgenstein's line of thought (or pseudo-Wittgenstein's - no exegetical correctness is claimed), it will be argued that the truth or falsity of (undecided) mathematical statements is in no sense determined by their meaning, the intended interpretation, rules or insights, or anything of the sort. Thus, if we adopt a realistic use of mathematical statements, we must acknowledge that there are mathematical facts, just as there are facts of history or geology, which are no more determined by any physical or intellectual, social or individual practices or inclinations than the existence or non-existence of life elsewhere in the universe. It must be admitted that the conclusion that there are such mathematical facts runs counter to powerful metaphysical instincts. In attempting to articulate and support these instincts, philosophers have come up with at least the following: i) the objects of (elementary) mathematics do not exist, ii) we cannot intelligibly refer to, or leam to refer to, mathematical facts except in so far as they are determined by rules, meaning, human actions and inclinations. As is usually the case, these philosophical doctrines are more dubious and unsatisfactory than the instincts they seek to prop up. The view taken here is that a measure of mathematical realism is a necessary consequence of the fact that we cannot in practice avoid using mathematical statements in our descriptions, theories, speculations, questions in much the same way as we use non-mathematical statements. No matter how wide the context we cannot take a detached view of all mathematical facts.

It was Brouwer who first raised the question whether 111 occurs in the decimal expansion of . Mathematicians have been content to leave this particular problem for philosophers (and mathematicians in their philosophical moments) to ponder and argue over. From a logical point of view the question has the same form as the question whether ZFI is inconsistent. This latter question is usually formulated in modal terms (can _L be derived from the axioms of ZFI?) whereas the first question is normally regarded as one

of the existence of 111 in a certain infinite series. The equivalence of these ways of formulating an arithmetical statement was touched on in 3.2. Speaking about Brouwer's question, Wittgenstein says:^'^ I want to say: it looks as if a ground for the decision were already there; and it has yet to be invented. Would this come to the same thing as saying: in thinking about the technique of expansion, which we have leamt, we use the false picture of a completed expansion (of what is ordinarily called a 'row') and this forces us to ask unanswerable questions? We are familiar with different ways in which "false pictures" - mathematical models, metaphors and analogies, pictures and diagrams - can give rise to unanswerable, senseless, or misleading questions. In the present case the "picture" is the image or description of as an infinite sequence of decimals, only an initial segment of which is known at any time. In what way is this a "false" picture? The remainder of 2 will be devoted to a presentation of some Wittgensteinian themes that bear on this question. Explicit claims concerning the scope, validity, and application of these themes will be made in 3. Suppose we are given a black box - a surviving artifact of the long vanished civilization on Fomalhaut DC - which in its active state displays numbers, one after the other. If the box is shut off (by pressing one of two buttons) after having produced the series fo, and is then returned to the active state, it will again produce fo, before producing further numbers. The series of numbers produced by the box is dubbed the Fomalhaut series. Having introduced the term "the Fomalhaut series" we can ask whether the Fomalhaut series contains the sequence 777. This question is answered in the affirmative as soon as 111 is produced by the black box. As long as 111 has not been produced we can say that the question has not been answered. What is moot is whether we can say that we don't know the answer, or that the answer to the question is in some sense determinate. The statement above, "the series of numbers produced by the box is dubbed the Fomalhaut series", conveys the following minimal explanation of the term "the Fomalhaut series": If the box has produced the sequence fo, then this sequence is an initial segment of the Fomalhaut series. On the basis of this explanation we can say a great many things about the Fomalhaut series. In Wittgensteinian terms, we can set up a "language game" based on this
[1], V-9.

explanation. In particular, if A is the statement "777 occurs in the Fomalhaut series", to say that A has been shown to be true is to say that the box has produced three consecutive sevens. But the minimal explanation does not settle the "notion of truth" for statements about the Fomalhaut series. That is to say, there are many contexts in which such statements may occur, and which are not covered in any obvious way by the minimal explanation. How, for example, are we to understand the reflection that it may well be that 111 does not occur in the Fomalhaut series, or that we may never find out whether or not it does occur? One way of approaching such contexts is to stipulate that the minimal explanation tells the whole story about the Fomalhaut series in the sense that those and only those sequences which have been produced by the box are initial segments of the Fomalhaut series. This has the effect of making references to the Fomalhaut series relative to the time of utterance. That 111 does not occur in the Fomalhaut series means that it has not been produced by the black box. To say that we don't know whether or not 111 occurs in the Fomalhaut series can only mean that we do not have access to the latest output. A natural extension of the minimal explanation which has the effect of removing the time relativity of references to the Fomalhaut series is the following: If the box has produced, or will in fact produce, the sequence fo, then this sequence is an initial segment of the Fomalhaut series. On the basis of this explanation we can say that we don't know whether 111 occurs in the Fomalhaut series even if we do have continuous access to the output: we don't know whether the box will ever produce this sequence. The question of the truth or falsity of A is however a palpably contingent one on this interpretation. We can make sure that the answer is negative by destroying the box before 111 has appeared, cutting the Fomalhaut series short. Whether we do so or not, we can state with some confidence that the Fomalhaut series is finite, albeit of indeterminate length, in so far as nothing lasts forever. If we want the truth or falsity of A to be unaffected by our destroying the box, a further extension of the minimal explanation is needed: If the box has produced, or will in fact produce, the sequence fo, or would have produced fo, if allowed to remain in its active state long enough, then this sequence is an initial segment of the Fomalhaut series. The question of the truth or falsity of A is now taken to be tantamount to the following question: will the black box produce 111 if allowed to remain in its active state long enough? On the basis of this explanation we can say that we don't know whether 111 occurs in the Fomalhaut series even if the box has been destroyed: we don't know whether the box would eventually have produced 777.

The term "the Fomalhaut series" has undergone a significant transformation. On the basis of the first explanation we could say "possibly 777 occurs in the Fomalhaut series", meaning that possibly 111 occurs in the segment so far generated. On the basis of the third explanation we say "possibly 111 occurs in the Fomalhaut series" even if no further numbers are generated, the box having been destroyed. This use of the term "the Fomalhaut series" does not admit any explanation in terms of what counts as an initial segment of the Fomalhaut series, where those initial segments are accessible to actual inspection. The term is now used as an abbreviation for "the series of numbers that would have been produced by the black box if it had been allowed to remain in its active state indefinitely." Suppose we introduced something called the Wittgenstein series - the series of numbers Wittgenstein would have produced in 1932 if it had occurred to him to write down as many numbers as he could during a twenty-four hour session, sustained by hot chocolate. It would be generally agreed that there is no such series. It is merely bizarre to say that we don't know whether or not 111 occurs in the Wittgenstein series. The difference between the Wittgenstein series and the Fomalhaut series is that the Fomalhaut series is supposed to be determined by the mode of operation of the box - by a rule, a principle, a mechanism, a programming. The sense in which the series can be said to be thus determined depends on the mode of operation of the box. The following are some of the possibilities. It may be, for example, that the box contains a random number generator (based on radioactive decay), together with a memory in which the numbers so far generated are stored. In its active state the box reels off the memorized numbers and then goes on to generate new numbers. In that case we must invoke some kind of fatalism or general determinism if the series is to be regarded as determinate. So let us suppose that more boxes are found on Fomalhaut DC, and that they all exhibit identical behavior. We then feel justified in asserting that the Fomalhaut series is not randomly generated. But perhaps the boxes themselves are the Fomalhauts, thought extinct. We may be dealing here with "mathematics living in a (non-human) mind"; the boxes may be producing codes for intuitively provable theorems in Fomalhaut mathematics. The intuitive judgments of the boxes - isolated "creative subjects" - agree so far, but in what sense can the series be held to be determined if these last surviving Fomalhauts are wiped out? Or perhaps the boxes are computers programmed to produce some recursive sequence. To ask for the series determined by the box is in that case to ask for a translation of the programming of the box into an algorithm of a familiar kind. This programming can take any form, from arrangements of cogwheels to the "programming" of a sentient being who has been taught to compute the series. If we want to insist that there is such a series as the Fomalhaut series, it is necessary

to go into details regarding the nature of the determination of the series by the boxes. In particular this is so if we hold that it is a timeless, non-contingent question of fact whether or not 777 occurs in the Fomalhaut series, or whether the Fomalhaut series is or is not infinite. On the minimal explanation we may speak of "the series so far produced by the box" without any reference to, or assumptions concerning, the mode of operation of the box. In the present case it is necessary to invoke a relation between the boxes and such series: the Fomalhaut series is the series determined by the "programming" of the boxes. It should also be noted that the phrase "remain in its active state long enough" in the formulation above must carry the qualification "without malfunctioning". What constitutes a malfunction is of course unknown; all we can say is that anything which is in conflict with the programming is a malfunction. If a single box exhibits deviant behavior we may perhaps regard it as malfunctioning. From the point of view of realism, it is very fortunate that the decimal expansion of is altogether different in character from the Fomalhaut series. Of the statement "777 occurs in the decimal expansion of " we can say with confidence that its truth or falsity is objectively determinate, that we simply don't know whether it is true or false. No problematic relations between series and boxes arise in connection with the decimal expansion of ; we have an explicit and unproblematic (mechanical) rule R for the computation of this expansion. That the decimal expansion of is infinite is trivially true; whether the series of Fermat primes is infinite is unknown, but again an objectively determinate matter. But now Wittgenstein invites us to reflect on the following: the difference between the Fomalhaut series and the decimal expansion of consists in this, that we ourselves are now the black boxes. If the infinite decimal expansion is held to be "determinate", although inaccessible unlike actually computed initial segments, and if on the basis of this "determination" we take the question of the occurrence or non-occurrence of 111 to be a question of fact, then we rely on the idea that the infinite expansion is contained in the rule R or in us, in our minds. Indeed it must be the latter, for the rule in the sense of a set of written or spoken instructions does not "uniquely determine" the series except in so far as we take those particular instructions to determine one series rather than another, which is to say that we produce certain numbers and say that they are produced in accordance with the rule. Only our intentions, the intended interpretation, can uniquely determine the expansion. This remains true even if we observe that the rule is purely mechanical, that a machine could carry out the computation. For "here we see the mathematical machine, which, driven by the rules themselves, obeys only mathematical laws and not physical ones...the working of the mathematical machine is only the picture of the working of a machine."35 What constitutes a malfunction of the machine can be explained - if the "unique determination" is not to be put in jeopardy - only by saying that the machine
35 [1], iv-48.

malfunctions when it fails to conform to the intentions of its designers. Now this notion of an "intended interpretation" which uniquely determines the expansion is uncomfortably ethereal. "What do we have in our heads which of itself contains all these determinations? No doubt there is much to be learned about the way in which what numbers we put down is in fact determined (in the majority of cases) by spoken or written instructions. This contingent determination is insufficient if the occurrence or non-occurrence of 777 is held to be in a non-contingent way "determinate". Our present intentions determine the whole infinite expansion, even though a later change in the interpretation of the rule R is perfectly conceivable. But where do we find this "determination"?37 Isn't it like this? The concepts of infinite decimals in mathematical propositions are not concepts of series, but of the unlimited technique of expansion of series. We leam an endless technique: that is to say, something is done for us first, and then we do it; we are told rules and we do exercises in following them; perhaps some expression like "and so on ad inf is used, but what is in question here is not some gigantic extension. These are the facts. And now what does it mean to say: "111 either occurs in the expansion, or does not occur"?

3 A great many decimals of have been computed in recent years, the current record being 134 217 700.^^ We may assume that these decimals are stored away someplace and are available for inspection. When the question is raised whether 111 occurs in this computable (because computed) segment of the decimal expansion of , we can regard it as a question of fact even if we do not take a realistic view of computational mathematical statements. For the purposes of the following discussion we must have some idea of how arithmetic appears on such a non-realistic view. We arrive at this view (we may suppose) by taking a sober look at what is actually going on when arithmetic is taught, learned, applied.^^ From humble beginnings in simple counting, which we perhaps see reenacted in the nursery, via such technical and imaginative leaps as the idea of counting all grains of sand, the introduction of decimal notation, the invention of proof by induction, [1], viI-42.
[1], V-19. An indefinite number of variations on these themes could be adduced from Wittgenstein [1],[2],[3],[4],[5]. Science News, February 21, 1987. See Berkeley [2], 121-122 and Feyerabend 7-11.

arithmetic comes to appear to us as "the mineralogy of numbers": we think of the natural numbers as actual objects of investigation, for the existence and properties of which we are not responsible. This is a convenient illusion. There is no Platonistic ontological criterion for the truth or falsity of computational statements; they are true or false only in so far as they are established as true or false in our mathematical activity, or can be thus established.The first 132 217 700 decimals of are actually available for inspection, like the computed segments of the Fomalhaut series, and questions about them can be answered by systematic investigation, so we can regard them as questions of fact without needing to introduce any dubious or unacceptable metaphysical assumptions. There are of course important differences between this computed series and the actually computed Fomalhaut series: the first 134 217 700 digits in the decimal expansion of are not by definition given by the computed output. There is always the (very real) possibility that an error occurred in the course of the computation or that the stored results have been corrupted. But the activity of searching for errors and of checking and cross-checking computations is itself one that we can understand without invoking any super-human mathematical facts, as part of a practice that determines the truth or falsity of mathematical statements. The ideas of absolutely correct computations, unperformable but determinate computations, or computations correct in the eyes of God certainly play a role in this activity, but in a philosophical perspective on arithmetic they fall away. A conflict between this radical anti-realism and the more widespread realistic view of computational statements appears when we consider decimals which have not been computed and, we may safely assume, never will be - say the 10l^:th digit in the decimal expansion of , henceforth referred to as d. From the realistic viewpoint, d is no less determinate than the actually computed or computable decimals, and such statements as "d=7" have a determinate truth-value, even if that truth-value cannot be determined. The Wittgensteinian considerations of 3 bear directly on the question what determines the digit d and the truth value of "d=7". According to the radical anti-realism sketched above, d is determinate only to the extent that it is determined by our mathematical activity. In 3.2 it was suggested that the realistic view is that the question what determines the value of d can only be answered in ontological and unilluminating terms - "the mathematical facts". Such an answer is of course not acceptable to Wittgenstein, and Wittgensteinian reasons for rejecting it will be considered in 5. The argument to be expounded and supported in the next few pages is (what I take to be) the Wittgensteinian rejection of the view that the digit d and the answer to questions about d are determined by, or implicit in, the rule for calculating the series. Two preliminary points must be dealt with. First, in one sense it is unproblematicaUy and uncontroversially true that d and all other digits in the decimal expansion of are determined by a (suitably chosen) rule for computing that expansion, and that the same rule determines whether or not d=7. That is, it is a trivial mathematical theorem that there

exists one and only one number which is the result of applying the rule to the argument IQlOO (or another rule to the two arguments 10,100). Indeed the nature of the rule is such that this theorem holds in finitistic (primitive recursive) mathematics. There is no question in Wittgenstein's argument of applying any radical skepticism to this mathematical observation. The second point concerns the extent to which the result of an actual computation is determined by antecedent factors - by teaching, training, programming, hardware, verbal and written instructions, etc. Clearly this is an empirical question. In practice there are no serious difficulties with a simpk rule such as that for computing the decimals of . That is, if identical results are not obtained in two applications of this rule, we are usually able to account for this in terms of errors, oversights, malfunctions, misunderstandings; in cases where no such explanation can be found we can without absurdity ascribe the discrepancy to unknown sources of error. Again there is nothing in Wittgenstein's line of thought to put this practical determination in question. What is rejected is the idea that d is determined by a rule in a sense which is neither mathematical nor practical; a determination which can be invoked in justification of a realistic attitude towards statements about d. The matter is delicate since many who (according to the present argument) are influenced by this idea would hold that the determination of d by a rule is mathematical, but also justifies a realistic attitude. The Wittgensteinian critique is accordingly naturally formulated as having two parts: i) nothing in our thoughts or actions determines the digit d, and ii) the undisputed mathematical determination of d by a rule affords no justification for a realistic interpretation of statements about d. The Fomalhaut boxes and Wittgensteinian "tribes" with a stable practice of producing numbers are devices for dramatizing the claim that there is no "determination" of d to be found in our mathematical activity. In non-metaphorical terms: rules as created by and maintained and manifested in human (intellectual, social, technological) activity determine an indefinite number of decimals of , viz. those actually computed or computable. There is a conceptually unproblematic relation between the decimals and the activity: certain numbers are produced as the outcome of that activity. The digit d, on the other hand, will in all probability never be determined in this sense by any mathematical activity (and certainly not by a computation of the first lO^^O decimals). So in what sense is d implicitly determined by the rules of our mathematical activity? The one standard answer to this question is that d is determined as the digit that would be produced if the activity of applying a rule R continued to the argument lO^^. But in what sense is the hypothetical extended or extrapolated activity determined? If what we are talking about is "what we actually do", we know of no such determinate extrapolation. Any machine can interact in unforeseeable ways with its environment; any tradition can develop in many different directions. Of course such considerations are irrelevant to the determination intended: only

the activity of correctly applying a particular rule R is at issue, and there can be no "development in different directions" of this activity. But the reason why this is so is that the reference to the outcome of mathematical activity is "mere clothing"40 for the mathematical statement that d is the lO^^rth digit in the series determined by R. The same point can be made in slightly different terms. Whatever our metaphysical views, we will recognize that rules and the application of rules play a large role in human activity. These are not rules in a Platonistic sense, but what we might call working rules: rules as "created by and manifested and maintained in" that activity. Actual digits of , or knowledge of those digits, are not produced by rules as mathematical abstractions, but by actual operations carried out by humans and machines, operations whose outcome (or lack of outcome) depends on many non-mathematical factors. As noted in 3.4 it is difficult to keep apart in one's thinking the working rules from the mathematical theory or model of those rules. In particular the digit d may be thought to be in some sense (implicitly) determined by the working rules (since it is mathematically determined by the mathematical rules) and therefore no more metaphysically dubious than those rules themselves. We find, however, that we can point to no other "determination" than that exemplified in the observation that d would result if the rule R were applied to the argument Here the "application" involved is "correct application" in a purely mathematical sense, i.e. an application of the rule for adding natural numbers is by definition correct only if the result of the application is the sum of the numbers added. In short, we have only a reformulation of the mathematical observation that d is the 10^^:th digit of . Consider a hypothetical "tribe" speaking a language unintelligible to us with a stable practice of producing an ever-growing sequence of numbers: what is required for the 10l00;th number in that sequence to be implicitly determined by the working rules of the tribe, and how is it determined? The question is largely rhetorical, for no other answer is to be expected than a reformulation of a mathematical statement. For example, it might be suggested that if the tribe is following a rule for computing , then the 10^^:th number is implicitiy determined by their working rules, again in the sense that continued application of those working rules would yield that number. The point of introducing this tribe is only to underline that the relevant notion of "following a rule for computing " is purely mathematical and has nothing to do with the complexities of working rules. If we set aside the idea that d is implicitly determined by working rules, what remains is what I have called the undisputed mathematical determination of d by a rule, i.e. the mathematical observation that there is a unique d which is the value of R applied to the argument 10^^^. For a perspective on this we should look at some other cases of mathematical determination, i.e. of unique existence. In chapter 1 it was proved that there [1], vi-15.

exists a non-measurable subset of [0,1], but no rule was given which uniquely deteraiines such a subset. On the other hand the n:th "Busy Beaver" number BB(n) is uniquely determined by a rule: BB(n) is the largest number obtainable as (the sole) output from a Turing machine with at most states. Similarly the smallest uncountable cardinal is determined by a rule, but not "the" extension of a linear functional given by the HahnBanach theorem; and so on. From these mathematical observations we cannot draw any metaphysical conclusions regarding the acceptability of a realistic interpretation of mathematical statements. From the point of view of the radical anti-realism sketched above, there is no reason to reject any of these observations as long as the use we make of them is properly mathematical (and does not consist in e.g. taking them to justify or express metaphysical claims). The obvious objection to these remarks is that d is determined by the rule R in a sense in which e.g. e = BB(IO^^) is not determined by the rule defining the busy beaver numbers. The rule R is effective: there is an algorithm for computing d. The rule defining e is not effective since it does not specify how to decide whether a Turing machine with at most 10^^ states will ever produce an output. Similarly the rule R determines whether 777 occurs among the first 10^^ decimals of , though we are not in a position to assert that it determines whether 111 occurs in the whole infinite series of decimals. If this objection appears to be to the point it is only because of our all but ineradicable readiness to take the realistic interpretation of computational statements for granted. The distinction between constructive and non-constructive proofs is not in dispute; the question is whether there is any "determination" of d to be found. It is indeed true that it makes sense to say that d has been determined or will be determined by a computation, and no doubt we can imagine determining d by a computation. Is d thereby "implicitiy determined"? Not unless we are prepared to espouse a mystical doctrine of "doing without doing". To clarify this point I must underline that the considerations here presented are not supposed to tell against a realistic view of computational statements, or against realism in general. Nor are they intended to exclude the possibility that realism with respect to computational statements has a justification which is lacking in other cases. Perhaps, indeed, it is highly significant that it makes sense to speak of d as having been determined by a computation. What is claimed is that the question what determines d or the truth or falsity of "d=7" is only apparently answered in a non-circular way by the observation that d is determined by a rule. In this respect, it is claimed, there is no difference between "d=7" and Goldbach's conjecture, or for that matter the continuum hypothesis. What we are told is that what determines whether or not d=7 is whether or not d=7: not indeed in precisely these words, but using other mathematical formulations of "d=7" (or Goldbach's conjecture, or the continuum hypothesis) which are open to every question of

interpretation and justification that is raised by the first formulation. The above observations have centered on the idea that the truth or falsity of a mathematical statement is determined by a rule, but in all essentials the objections remain the same if instead of a rule we invoke the meaning of the statement, the intended interpretation, our grasp of the concepts involved, or something similar. Claims that such factors determine the truth value of a mathematical statement (even though the statement need not be provable or disprovable) fall into three categories, all touched on above in their application to determination by a rule. First there are the introspective reports: certain mathematical objects or (finite or infinite) operations are "clearly conceived and mastered", and their properties or outcomes clearly seen to be determinate. The reality and importance of such impressions is not here in question. They may well play an important role when mathematicians determine the truth or falsity of mathematical statements (by proving or disproving them). The mere impressions themselves do not determine anything. This holds equally whether we vividly perceive the determinateness of the lO^^O-th digit of or that of the cardinality of the continuum. The second category contains formal mathematical observations exemplified by the determination of d by a recursive rule and the decidability of the continuum hypothesis in second order set theory. Such observations can have considerable significance, both mathematical and informal, but they can not be used to give any non-circular answer to the question what determines the truth or falsity of a mathematical statement To the third category belongs the idea that the truth or falsity of d=7 is implicitly determined by working rules and similar views (difficult to spell out) on which some implicit determination rooted in our mathematical activity is envisaged, analogous perhaps to the determination of the oak by the acorn, the direction by the pointing finger, the output of a machine by its construction, but with the ontologicai force of mathematical determination.

4 The argument so far has been directed against an anti-realistic form of realism in which the truth or falsity of an arithmetical statement is held to be in some sense determined by rules or interpretations, whether or not the statement can be proved or disproved. When this view is rejected we are left with a realism - in the sense of a use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions - which does not purport to provide or

express any theory of mathematics or illumination of mathematical truth. Rather it embodies an acceptance of (some indefinite range of) mathematical facts as looking after themselves, as it were. As is usual in metaphysics, I rely in this characterization on an analogy with a realistic attitude towards e.g. statements about past events or inaccessible places. To the question what determines the truth or falsity of a statement about Plato's beard we neither have nor feel that we should have any answer more illuminating than "the historical facts"; and so with arithmetical statements on a realistic view. Although theoretically meager, this form of realism has considerable philosophical and practical significance, both because of its role in our thinking in general and because it is in conflict with various philosophical ideas. Some steps towards substantiating the claim to practical significance were taken in chapter 3. In the remainder of the essay I propose to consider how and why the realistic use of arithmetical statements can be seen as objectionable or unsatisfactory That realism is taken to consist in a special use of arithmetical statements is important for the argument of this essay. Wittgenstein's reflections on rules have often been regarded (by critics of realism) as telling against a realistic (or "Platonistic") interpretation of statements such as Goldbach's conjecture or "d=7". In so far as such expositions equate realism with what I have called an "anti-realistic form of realism", they can be expected to make a point similar to that of 3. In brief: that nothing in our thoughts or actions determines the truth-value of Goldbach's conjecture or "d=7" (unless, of course, these statements are in fact proved or disproved), and that invocations of a purely mathematical determination do not justify the view that mathematical statements have a determinate truth value. But there is also a tendency in the literature to take a shortcut from realism to a peculiar doctrine of the rigidity of rules: if we hold d to be no less determinate than the first 10 decimals of we must (it is argued) take the view that there can only be one way of correctiy applying or continuing the rule R, that it is impossible, provided the rule R has been properly understood, to produce any other number than the correct one. This insistence on the impossibility or inadmissibility of deviating from the ordinary interpretation of arithmetical rules is thereupon criticized (what is this "proper understanding"? etc) and the conclusion is drawn or suggested that the realistic view of d is untenable or at best "misleading". Whatever the proper inte retation of Wittgenstein may be (a question here left aside), there is a considerable difference between this line of thought and the way Wittgenstein's considerations have been used here. In particular, the realistic use of mathematical statements is not taken to be associated with any particular doctrine concerning rules and following rules. The realistic assumption that it is not possible to obtain the sequence 111 by applying the rule R may legitimately be met with the question what it means to ("correctiy") apply the rule R. The answer does not, however, consist in any abstract claims conceming rules, but in a perfectly ordinary explanation of the rule R. That is, the

use of mathematical statements as factual assumptions is part of ordinary discourse with all its presuppositions and uncertainties. In his reflections on the determination of by a rule, Wittgenstein asks, "What if the rule should bend in use without my noticing it?".4l The answer to this question in the present context is that our realistic assumptions or Platonistic claims would thereby also bend in use without our noticing it. As noted in 2, there are two main lines of thought in the rejection of (elementary) mathematical realism. First there is the at least apparently straightforward objection that the objects of elementary mathematics do not exist. This will be taken up in 5. The second doctrine is less straightforward; I characterized it as the view that we cannot intelligibly refer to, or learn to refer to, mathematical facts except in so far as they are determined by rules, meaning, human actions and inclinations. In order to appreciate this view we must consider what kind of explanation we can give of arithmetical statements when they are used as factual assumptions. What, for example, do we mean by the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true in the reflection (#) of 3.3? Only that every even number greater than 2 is the sum of two primes. And what does this mean? There is no answer to this question other than that given in the course of an elementary mathematical education. By this I do not mean any formal training or specialized mathematical studies, but the understanding of arithmetic which is taken for granted in ordinary discourse, supplemented perhaps by a few definitions. Thus if we know that the primes are those numbers that are not products of smaller numbers, and that the even numbers are the products 2,4,6,... of 2, and if we feel at home with multiplication and addition of natural numbers, there is nothing more to learn about the meaning of Goldbach's conjecture in this context. We are simply assuming that each of 2,4,6,... is ("in fact") the sum of two primes. I am not of course claiming that there can be nothing more to say about the meaning of Goldbach's conjecture. Philosophers in particular have tried to go beyond the practice and standard teaching of arithmetic to an interpretation or analysis of arithmetical statements thus Frege, who regarded it as scandalous that mathematicians had no good answer to the question "What is the number 1?". The question of the feasibility or value of such analyses can here be left aside, for the use of Goldbach's conjecture in (#) is not predicated on any such analysis or interpretation, any more than the use of factual assumptions about past events is based on a theory of time. Wittgenstein, however, is not satisfied with this invocation of our ordinary understanding of arithmetic. He emphasizes that elementary arithmetic is not after all selfexplanatory. The dots in "0,1,2...." are "just the four dots: a sign, for which it must be possible to give certain rules", the expression "and so on" does not "harbor a secret
[1], V-18.

power by which the series is continued without being continued", but is "a sign in a calculus which can't do more than have meaning via the rules that hold of it; which can't say more than it shows. And, furthermore, when an arithmetical statement of the form "for every k, P(k)" is explained as meaning "P(0),P(1), and so on", nothing is explained "except that the proposition is not a logical product. In order to understand the grammar of the proposition we ask: how is the proposition used? What is regarded as the criterion of its truth? What is its verification?jf find Goldbach's conjecture selfexplanatory or perfectly transparent it is because we are letting our minds dwell on a "picture": "a picture which seems to fix the sense unambiguously.''^^ The picture or image itself is not at all strange or difficult - an infinite row 0,1,2,... vanishing in the distance - but the question is "what use the image is to us"."^^ There are several separable ideas that can be associated with these comments. As I understand them here, Wittgenstein is not pressing for any analysis or interpretation of arithmetical statements such as Frege attempted. Nor is he concemed with how we are to represent in a "theory of meaning" what we learn from an elementary mathematical education. Rather, what is at issue is whether our ordinary understanding of arithmetic allows us to make sense of the realistic use of arithmetical statements. This is a central question which no form of realism, however modest and theoretically meager, can avoid confronting. An important ingredient of the Wittgensteinian comments is the idea that our ordinary understanding of arithmetic should admit a representation as a (practical or implicit) knowledge of some set of rules. The general topic of "rules of language" will not be broached here; as will emerge I am only concemed with a particular application of the idea that there must be such rules. This idea has some initial plausibility since we can easily spot for example how the rule of V-elimination is taught to children: "Everybody has a mother" - "Does John also have a mother?" - "Yes, everybody has a mother" - "Does grandmother also have a mother" - "Yes, I told you, everybody has a mother" .... Or in the arithmetical case: from a statement of the form "for every natural number k, P(k)", we may infer P(t), for every numerical term t. Similarly it seems entirely natural to say that we learn a rule to the effect that there is no greatest natural number, that k+1 is always greater than k, whatever k we name. These rules seem to have a rather special character, as commented on by Wittgenstein:'^^

42 [4], p.281f. 43 [4]^ 453^ ^ [3], 426, 43 [1], V-6. [4], p.283.

what troubles me is that the 'and so on' apparently has to occur also in the rules for the sign 'and so on'. For instance, 1,1+1 and so on .=. 1,1+1,1+1+1 and so on, and so on. This kind of circularity is well in keeping with the role assigned to these rules. It is not supposed that the rules can be used to give purely verbal explanations of the concepts involved, or that knowledge of the rules in the sense of being able to formulate them is what our "ordinary understanding" amounts to. Rather, as stated above, we are giving a theoretical representation of our ordinary understanding of (a large segment of our language including) elementary arithmetic as knowledge of these rules. If this is to be a good representation, various conditions must be satisfied. In particular, we must be able to say how knowledge of these rules is manifested in our use of language - i.e. how the representation works. And we should also expect that these rules, if explicitly formulated, will be accepted by those whose understanding of arithmetic we seek to represent. Here I draw on Dummett's presentation of these matters, which is much more explicit than Wittgenstein's (and, of course, much more oriented towards a theory of language). It was noted in 4.3 that from the point of view of realism it is an open question whether a useful, illuminating, or otherwise satisfying representation in such terms of our understanding of arithmetic or of language in general can be found. But the Wittgensteinian comments contain a further idea which at once transforms those comments into an anti-realistic metaphysical doctrine. This is the idea that among the rules must be found "introduction rules", rules stating how arithmetical statements can be verified, and that these rules determine what sense we can make of e.g. the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true. It is not difficult to appreciate how this view leads to the conclusion that "our ordinary understanding of arithmetic" does not allow us to make sense of the realistic use of arithmetical statements. A paradigmatic example can be found e.g. in the "introduction rules" given by operational definitions. If "x is magnetic" is explained to us through the operations or observations by which it is determined that is magnetic, we cannot assume that X is magnetic without assuming that its magnetism can be demonstrated by such means. When this line of thought - broadly speaking, "verificationism" - is applied in controversial cases, there are never any easily identified or undisputed "introduction rules" to point out. Instead the application of the verificationist model of explanation and understanding is based on more or less metaphysical views concerning the nature of the subject in question or of language in general. In particular, we need to appreciate the force of the idea that "a proposition cannot say more than is established by means of its method of verification". This is Waismann's formulation, and he continues:^'^

If I say "My friend is angry" and establish this in virtue of his displaying a certain perceptible behavior, I only mean that he displays that behavior. And if I mean more by it, I cannot specify what that extra consists in. A proposition says only what it does say, and nothing that goes beyond that. The difficulties with this view are familiar - the lack of any characterization of a "certain perceptible behavior" that can be used to replace "X is angry", etc. The motive force behind the view expressed by Waismann is the idea that the altemative is to hold that there is "more" to the attribution of anger, and that this "more" must (in this case) consist in a reference to states of mind, or unobservable states of the organism: references which should not, for various reasons, enter into the meaning of statements like "X is angry". ("What do we have to go by when we learn the meaning of the term 'angry'?", "What is it that matters when we check whether somebody understands these statements?" etc). Similarly Berkeley, while not in fact giving any phenomenalistic reduction of statements about physical objects to statements about sense impressions, was profoundly impressed by the reflection that the altemative to holding that the reduction is possible is to read into such statements references to a "we know not what" stripped of all sensible qualities. In the case of mathematical statements the corresponding impression is that the altemative to accepting the existence and central role of introduction rules is to invoke a "notion of tmth" which we may claim to "possess" or have in our "grasp" but can never quite produce for inspection. The important role played by this impression becomes clear if we consider on its own merits the notion that "when we first acquire the practice of using statements involving quantification over infinite totalities of mathematical objects, what we actually leam is to recognize what counts as justifying the assertion of such a [mathematical] statement, that is, what constitutes a proof of it, together with what can be inferred from a statement of this kind, and what counts as a refutation of it".^^ It is a striking fact that no indication at all of how Goldbach's conjecture can be verified forms part of the standard "and so on"-explanation of the conjecture which was invoked in support of the use of the conjecture in (#). Wittgenstein is quite right in describing the "and so on"-explanation as essentially "pictorial", at least in so far as we can present it in explicit terms. Critics of realism tend to be misguidedly helpful at this point and say that a verification is described in that explanation, a verification in terms of infinite operations. Thus Wittgenstein himself, who suggests that "we delude ourselves that there is indeed a method of verification, a method which cannot be employed, but only because of human weakness.'"^^ But this is mere obfuscation of the issue. A reformulation of Goldbach's conjecture in terms of the outcome of infinite operations is
McGuinness, p.244. Dummett [1], p.6. [4], p.452.

only that, a reformulation. Any questions raised by the first formulation can equally be applied to the second. The only kind of verification which is relevant here is that which can be taught and carried out and thus embodied in "rules of language". To find any mention or use of proofs and refutations we must go beyond the "pictorial" explanation to expositions such as are given in mathematical textbooks. But of course those expositions don't start from scratch: they presuppose an extensive but illdefined range of knowledge and insight both practical and theoretical. No investigation of "what we actually leam" can start with the highly recondite topic of mathematical proof. If we direct our attention to what we leam in a specialized mathematical education, it is still far from clear in what sense we can be held to leam to recognize what constitutes a proof of e.g. Goldbach's conjecture. The absurd suggestion that we acquire a formidable expertise in checking proofs must be avoided. Invoking the notion of canonical proof, we might say that we leam that a canonical proof of Goldbach's conjecture is a function mapping each even number k to a canonical proof of "k is the sum of two primes" (or something similar). This highly abstract principle does not of course by itself help us to decide whether a proposed argument is to count as a proof; nor is it clear how it is related to practical mathematical knowledge. The rules of V-introduction and mathematical induction, on the other hand, are excellent candidates as mathematical "mles of language". They are constantly used in mathematical proofs, they are more or less laboriously taught and learned using a combination of practical examples and appeals to reason, i.e. to an extensive common background. But it is difficult to find any similarity between these rules and canonical "introduction rules" such as that for recognizing magnetic materials. The point of "introduction rules" in the relevant sense is that they are used to explain a term to us - e.g. "magnetic" - and are therefore also used to interpret an assumption involving those terms - e.g. "this stone is magnetic". If we are asked to assume that the stone is magnetic without assuming that the standard experiment would show it to be magnetic, we can only answer that we don't know, in that case, what we are talking about. The two mathematical rules are not used to explain Goldbach's conjecture, and nobody would refer to them in order to inte ret the assumption that every even number is the sum of two primes. Indeed it is obscure how one would go about trying to use the rules in this way. These comments are not intended to rule out the possibility of a verificationist "theory of meaning". As emphasized previously, from the point of view of realism the aim, scope, and validity of such a theory are matters that can only be settied when the theory appears. Here we are concerned, not with theories of meaning, but with a particular application of the verificationist line of thought, viz. the idea that we cannot make sense of a realistic use of mathematical assumptions, since these assumptions must be understood through "introduction rules". What I have tried to bring out is that the idea that "what we actually leam" are such introduction rules has on the face of it nothing to recommend it,

and is in fact a very puzzling notion. To understand its appeal we must take into account the impression that a realistic interpretation presupposes an ineffable grasping of truth conditions. This impression arises from reflections along the following lines. In realistically assuming that Goldbach's conjecture is true we are not assuming that it can be shown to be true. We are just assuming that it is true, independently of proofs and human knowledge. To understand this assumption we must have learned what it is for Goldbach's conjecture to be true; a knowledge that does not consist in a mastery of any rules for proving Goldbach's conjecture. Indeed it appears that what we know or understand in grasping the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true cannot be fully expressed in any rules, but only hinted at by giving examples of true universally quantified statements and of ways in which the truth or falsity of such statements can be established. This knowledge cannot have been acquired in any easily understandable way through ordinary instruction - "training in the use of rules" - and cannot, unlike knowledge of rules, be manifested in any clearcut sense. We are reduced to saying "I know what I mean", and "I think you know what I mean". But now suppose we turn to a concrete instance, say the realistic use of Goldbach's conjecture in the observation (#) on p.36. On inspection it appears that no realistic "grasp of truth conditions" is presupposed in (#) which is not equally presupposed in the formulation of the rule of V-elimination. For, after all, once it has been explained that the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true implies that k is the sum of two primes, for every even number k greater than 2, there is nothing more to explain regarding the assumption made in (#) - that is all there is to the assumption. Anybody who passes the tests for understanding V-elimination will have passed the test for understanding Goldbach's conjecture as used in (#). It must be underlined that what I mean by this is not that a grasp of V-elimination confers on us a realistic grasp of truth conditions, but only that I can think of no requirements for understanding Goldbach's conjecture in (#) that are any more demanding than those for understanding V-elimination. The discrepancies between the reflections of the two preceding paragraphs point to a highly significant aspect of the use of Goldbach's conjecture in (#): no mathematical conclusions are drawn from the conjecture in (#), and no rule (of language, logic, or arithmetic) can be found which tells us whether or not the assertion (#) is justified. This is the aspect of (#) that makes it appear that an ineffable understanding is required. For the understanding of the rule of V-elimination can be manifested and learned through applications of that rule, whereas nothing is applied in (#). The difficulties in making sense of (#) through a consideration of rules extend to every use of language that does not consist in making justified assertions or drawing correct conclusions (in accordance with

some linguistically determined notions of justification and correctness). It is a notable fact that constructivistically inclined philosophers who reject the use of Goldbach's conjecture in (#) find no difficulty in accepting the observation (**) of 3.3 "even if there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture, it may be too large ever to be found". What is striking is that an understanding of the statement "there is a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture" as used in (**) is taken to be manifested (on the constructivist view) essentially by a readiness to accept the rules of 3-introduction and 3-elimination. From an anti-realistic point of view this is quite arbitrary, since there is no application of those rules in (**). But in fact the notion of "manifestation" must not be taken too seriously, neither in the constructivist philosophy, nor in the philosophy of language in general. What understanding we see "manifested" will depend on what we ourselves regard as making good sense - e.g. in the constructivist case, a "pictorial" exposition of the arithmetic of finite sets - and no "manifestations" carry any guarantee for the future (as Wittgenstein has taught us). The argument so far has dealt with the idea that there must be meaning-determining "introduction rules" associated with arithmetical statements. We must now take notice of the fact that to set aside this idea is by no means to dispose of Wittgenstein's objections to relying on ordinary explanations of arithmetic in realistic observations. As was remarked above, what is at issue is whether our ordinary understanding of arithmetic allows us to make sense of a realistic use of arithmetical statements. The form of verificationism criticized above is only one way of arriving at a negative answer to this question. Indeed in asking what is the criterion for the truth of arithmetical statements we need not have any verifiable criterion in mind. The essential point made in Wittgenstein's objections is that the fact that we use and understand mathematical statements in a mathematical context does not imply that we can uproot those statements and without further ado assume them to be well understood in other contexts, such as (#). As has been noted in previous chapters, this point is indisputable and can be illustrated with both trivial and controversial examples. A reference to standard explanations of arithmetic is indeed completely inadequate as a justification of a realistic use of arithmetical statements and does not at all exclude the possibility that a verificationistic interpretation of arithmetic is called for in non-mathematical contexts - that is, that we must understand e.g. the assumption that Goldbach's conjecture is true in such a context as tantamount to an assumption that the conjecture is demonstrably true. But equally the mere rejection of the ordinary explanation of arithmetic as insufficient outside mathematical contexts is not enough to justify a nonrealistic view: we need to be able to say why a better or different explanation is required.

The upshot of the discussion of 4 was that the verificationist ideas by themselves do not explain the appeal of mathematical anti-realism. We need to understand why arithmetical statements should require a (broadly speaking) verificationist interpretation outside mathematical contexts. It is true that some philosophers would say that the verificationist ideas apply to every kind of discourse, even if we have no systematic development of those ideas outside mathematics, but I don't believe it is possible to take this view seriously. Nobody has made any attempt whatsoever to interpret e.g. conjectures about the past or the future of our planet in non-realistic terms; nor does the idea that such an interpretation is called for have any but the most abstract and tenuous appeal, and that to a few theoreticians. That arithmetical statements must be understood in non-realistic terms is, on the other hand, an idea with wide and no doubt perennial appeal: how can we explain or motivate this appeal? A traditional answer, and in my opinion one that can hardly be improved upon, is that a non-realistic view of arithmetic is called for since the objects of arithmetic don't exist. Notations (necessarily finite) exist, rules (as created, manifested, and maintained in mathematical practice) exist, but not numbers or functions designated by the notation or expressed in the rules. This answer has sometimes been set aside as insufficiently profound or even "unintelligible". In what sense, it is asked, is it an open question whether numbers and functions exist, and what difference does it make to arithmetic whether they do or not? I don't have any answer to this; what I have in mind in emphasizing the impression that the objects of arithmetic don't exist is not "nominalism" or "finitism" as a theory or inte etation of arithmetic or science in general, but a much more primitive and deep-rooted attitude so aptly expressed in Wisdom's remark on "the metaphysically-minded". Why is the "picture" which we have of the natural number series a "false picture" from the point of view of anti-realism? It is a false picture because it appears to legitimate an "extensional viewpoint" as regards the natural numbers: the viewpoint that allows us to talk about the natural numbers as though they constituted an infinite series, to be partiy generated, partly searched through, speculated on, described, determinate but never fully known. But there is no such infinite series, and to understand what the natural numbers are we must turn to the rules and other practices through which reference to numbers and other mathematical objects and mathematical facts are given content and meaning. These rules and practices do not support any realistic interpretation of arithmetical statements. To speak of "the number of Fermat primes" is justified (outside a mathematical argument) only if our rules and practices determine such a number. In regarding the view that the objects of arithmetic don't exist as fundamental to anti-

realism I am saying that the decisive step in this non-realistic line of thought is taken at the very beginning, when we turn to rules, to meaning, to practices and inclinations in our metaphysical thinking about arithmetic. There is an asymmetry here between realism and anti-realism: realism as it has been presented in this essay does not put forth any claim that the series of natural numbers does exist and a realistic use of arithmetical statements is therefore justified. Such a positive invocation of the existence of mathematical objects admittedly does nothing to either justify or explain realism. But nor (according to the present exposition of realism) do we gain anything by formulating the realistic view as a doctrine concerning rules and meanings. On the contrary, such formulations are inspired by anti-realism, by the impression that the truth or falsity of mathematical statements must in some way be a matter of rules and meaning (unlike the truth or falsity of conjectures about Plato's beard or life in the universe). The essence of realism consists in the realistic use of arithmetical statements, possibly based on nothing except a readiness to integrate mathematical and non-mathematical language in our description of the world, the integration being particularly close in the case of elementary arithmetic. Our metaphysical instincts may tell us that this is strictly speaking an incorrect procedure; that mathematical statements must be confined to their proper (mathematical) sphere. Since we cannot easily implement these convictions (according to the argument of chapter 3) a conflict is inevitable.


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L.Pozsgay "Liberal Intuitionism as a Basis for Set Theory", in Scott. D.Prawitz "Dummett on a Theory of Meaning and its Impact on Logic", in Barry Taylor (ed.), Contributions to Philosophy: Michael Dummett, Martinus Nijhoff 1986. H.Putnam [1] "What is mathematical truth?", in Mathematics, Matter, and Meaning: Philosophical Papers, Volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1979. [2] "The thesis that mathematics is logic", ibid. Bertrand Russell An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. D.S. Scott (ed) Proceedings of Symposia in Pure Mathematics, 13, Providence, R.I. Hao Wang From Mathematics to Philosophy, London 1974. John Wisdom "Metaphysics and Verification", in Philosophy and Psycho-Analysis, University of California Press 1969. Ludwig Wittgenstein [1] Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, third edition, revised, Oxford 1978. [2] Philosophical Remarks, Oxford 1975. [3] Philosophical Investigations, Oxford 1974. [4] Philosophical Grammar, Oxford 1974. [5] Wittgenstein's Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939, Hassocks, Sussex 1976.

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