TY - JOUR

T1 - Mathematical Constructivism in Spacetime

AU - Hellman, Geoffrey

PY - 1998/9

Y1 - 1998/9

N2 - To what extent can constructive mathematics based on intuitionistic logic recover the mathematics needed for spacetime physics? Certain aspects of this important question are examined, both technical and philosophical. On the technical side, order, connectivity, and extremization properties of the continuum are reviewed, and attention is called to certain striking results concerning causal structure in General Relativity Theory, in particular the singularity theorems of Hawking and Penrose. As they stand, these results appear to elude constructivization. On the philosophical side, it is argued that any mentalist-based radical constructivism suffers from a kind of neo-Kantian apriorism. It would be at best a lucky accident if objective spacetime structure mirrored mentalist mathematics. The latter would seem implicitly committed to a Leibnizian relationist view of spacetime, but it is doubtful if implementation of such a view would overcome the objection. As a result, an anti-realist view of physics seems forced on the radical constructivist.

AB - To what extent can constructive mathematics based on intuitionistic logic recover the mathematics needed for spacetime physics? Certain aspects of this important question are examined, both technical and philosophical. On the technical side, order, connectivity, and extremization properties of the continuum are reviewed, and attention is called to certain striking results concerning causal structure in General Relativity Theory, in particular the singularity theorems of Hawking and Penrose. As they stand, these results appear to elude constructivization. On the philosophical side, it is argued that any mentalist-based radical constructivism suffers from a kind of neo-Kantian apriorism. It would be at best a lucky accident if objective spacetime structure mirrored mentalist mathematics. The latter would seem implicitly committed to a Leibnizian relationist view of spacetime, but it is doubtful if implementation of such a view would overcome the objection. As a result, an anti-realist view of physics seems forced on the radical constructivist.

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U2 - 10.1093/bjps/49.3.425

DO - 10.1093/bjps/49.3.425

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0040019765

VL - 49

SP - 425

EP - 450

JO - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

JF - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

SN - 0007-0882

IS - 3

ER -