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1 REHSEIS - Recherches Epistémologiques et Historiques sur les Sciences Exactes et les Institutions Scientifiques

Abstract : The aim I am pursuing here is to describe some general aspects of mathematical proofs. In my view, a mathematical proof is a warrant to assert a non-tautological statement which claims that certain objects possibly a certain object enjoy a certain property. Because it is proved, such a statement is a mathematical theorem. In my view, in order to understand the nature of a mathematical proof it is necessary to understand the nature of mathematical objects. If we understand them as external entities whose -existence- is independent of us and if we think that their enjoying certain properties is a fact, then we should argue that a theorem is a statement that claims that this fact occurs. If we also maintain that a mathematical proof is internal to a mathematical theory, then it becomes very difficult indeed to explain how a proof can be a warrant for such a statement. This is the essential content of a dilemma set forth by P. Benacerraf cf. Benacerraf 1973. Such a dilemma, however, is dissolved if we understand mathematical objects as internal constructions of mathematical theories and think that they enjoy certain properties just because a mathematical theorem claims that they enjoy them.

Keywords : Mathematical proof

Author: Marco Panza -



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