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Numbers and functions in Hilbert's finitism


Taiwanese Journal for Philosophy and History of Science 10 (1998) 33–60
(special issue on philosophy of mathematics edited by Charles Chihara)


David Hilbert's finitistic standpoint is a conception of elementary number theory designed to answer the intuitionist doubts regarding the security and certainty of mathematics. Hilbert was unfortunately not exact in delineating what that viewpoint was, and Hilbert himself changed his usage of the term through the 1920s and 30s. The purpose of this paper is to outline what the main problems are in understanding Hilbert and Bernays on this issue, based on some publications by them which have so far received little attention, and on a number of philosophical reconstructions and criticisms of the viewpoint (in particular, by Hand, Kitcher, Parsons, and Tait).


Hourya Sinaceur (Mathematical Reviews 2001g:01033)

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