Is Platonism Epistemologically Bankrupt?

Bob Hale

in The Reason's Proper Study

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780198236399
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597565 | DOI:
Is Platonism Epistemologically Bankrupt?

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This paper argues that the epistemological challenge against a Platonist conception of mathematics can be met. The challenge is expounded in a general version and does not rely on the specific adoption of a causal theory of knowledge, but rather it disputes the ability to explain our reliability of our beliefs concerning abstract objects. It is then argued that for a Platonist, the above challenge can be met by giving a satisfactory epistemology of necessary truths in general. That is to reduce the explanation of our reliability in mathematical beliefs to beliefs of necessary statements as such. In the following, the worry is raised that such a transition is illicit, as it might still be the case that albeit logical beliefs are necessary, our mathematical beliefs, even if they were true are never necessarily so.

Keywords: Benacerraf; contingency; epistemology; Hartry Field; logical consequence; necessity; Platonism

Chapter.  10997 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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