1997

8 02 2006

1997 seems like it must have been quite a year in the philosophy of mathematics. Mike Resnik published Mathematics as a Science of Patterns, and Stewart Shapiro did Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology, which are two strong arguments in favor of different versions (I think) of structuralism, which had been a popular idea over the previous few decades, but I think not terribly well-developed before those books. At the same time, John Burgess and Gideon Rosen outlined and attacked fictionalism in their A Subject with no Object, and Penelope Maddy advocated an end to all this investigation into the ontology and epistemology of mathematics in Naturalism in Mathematics. In addition, Synthese did a special issue on proof in mathematics, and in 1998 a couple other important books came out – Mark Balaguer’s Platonism and Anti-Platonism in Mathematics and the collection Truth in Mathematics edited by Dales and Oliveri.

I don’t know of any other particular year that had such a proliferation of interesting books coming out nearly simultaneously in one relatively small area of philosophy like this. And I feel like there’s another book from 1997 that I’m leaving out as well. Does anyone know any other examples of years like this?

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6 responses

19 02 2006
Aidan

From what I can tell 1991 was another of those years. Dummett published a couple of really important books, including Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics; Stewart published the Bible; Lewis’ Parts of Classes was that year too, and there are other things I’m not yet awake enough to remember.

Personally I think ‘Frege’s Conception of Numbers as Objects’ is enough to get ’83 on the map, but I’m aware I’m too biased to be objective about this.

20 02 2006
Aidan

Lest I forget, Coffa’s ‘The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap’ should be added to 1991 phil. math books. Cosmic.

1 03 2006
Ole Hjortland

I immediately thought about 1991 as well. I’ve noticed this myself, but I rather thought that it is exactly because the field is so small that important books are published at the same time. That is, there is a sort of synergy.

12 03 2006
Kenny Easwaran

It’s also interesting that all the books you list in 1991 are more the logic/language style phil math books, while the ones in 1997 are more ontology and what I think of as “traditional” philosophy of math.

13 03 2006
M

1997 also saw a number of interesting works on the “fringe” of philosophy of mathematics: David Sandborg’s dissertation on mathematical explanation, Stanislas Dehaene’s book on _The Number sense_ and Ruben Hersh’s _What is Mathematics Really?” .

15 03 2006
Kenny Easwaran

I didn’t realize any of those were from that time – I’ve been meaning to read some of the Sandborg and Hersh for a while!

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