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Review of Solomon Feferman's In the Light of Logic by Jeremy Avigad

Summary: Review of Solomon Feferman's In the Light of Logic
by Jeremy Avigad
Appeared in the Journal of Philosophy, 96 (1999), 638-642.
In December of 1998, a conference was held at Stanford in honor of Solomon Feferman's
seventieth birthday. For the event, mathematicians, philosophers, computer scientists,
historians, and even a linguist or two gathered from about a dozen countries to celebrate
Feferman's work in logic. Surveying this work, one detects a reassuring uniformity of
method, and a general template for research in the field: first, find an issue relevant to the
philosophy or history of mathematics that calls for clarification; next, design formal
representations of the relevant mathematical phenomena, and apply the methods of logic and
proof theory to their analysis; and finally, interpret the results of the inquiry with respect to
the original issues. Feferman's contributions to mathematical logic are substantial, but his
work is perhaps best appreciated in this broader context. And it is precisely this interplay
between mathematical logic and the philosophy of mathematics that constitutes the central
theme of In the Light of Logic, a collection of reflective essays spanning the last two
These writings do not offer a grand unified theory of mathematics, but, rather, focus on
more sharply delimited issues. For example, a number of essays, including "Infinity in
Mathematics," "Weyl Vindicated," and "Why a Little Bit Goes a Long Way," address the
notion of predicativity. In an informal sense, the word is used to describe approaches to


Source: Avigad, Jeremy - Departments of Mathematical Sciences & Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University


Collections: Multidisciplinary Databases and Resources; Mathematics