Formalism in the Philosophy of Mathematics

[Revised entry by Alan Weir on March 11, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The guiding idea behind formalism is that mathematics is not a body of propositions representing an abstract
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[Revised entry by Alan Weir on March 11, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The guiding idea behind formalism is that mathematics is not a body of propositions representing an abstract sector of reality but is much more akin to a game, bringing with it no more commitment to an ontology of objects or properties than ludo or chess. This idea has some intuitive plausibility: consider the tyro toiling at multiplication tables or the student using a standard algorithm for differentiating or integrating a function. It also corresponds to some aspects of the practice of advanced mathematicians in some periods - for example, the...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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