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?




6 responses

19 02 2006

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

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

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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