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Standard histories of mathematics and of analytic philosophy contend that work on the foundations of mathematics was motivated by a crisis such as the discovery of paradoxes in set theory or the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries. Recent scholarship, however, casts doubt on the standard histories, opening the way for consideration of an alternative motive for the study of the foundations of mathematics -- unification. Work on foundations has shown that diverse mathematical practices could be integrated into a single framework of axiomatic systems and that much of mathematics could be expressed in a single language. The new framework was the product of an interdisciplinary coalition whose ideas resemble those later adopted by the Vienna Circle and logical empiricists.


Article published in Perspectives on Science 1997, Vol. 5 No. 3, p383, 35p.

Copyright 1997 by The University of Chicago

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