Fri Sep 9, 2005
727 Evans , 4:10–6 PM
Paolo Mancosu (UC Berkeley)
Harvard 1940-41: Tarski, Carnap and Quine on a finitistic language of mathematics for science
Tarski, Carnap and Quine spent the academic year 1940-41 together at Harvard. In their autobiographies, both Carnap and Quine highlight the importance of the conversations that took place among them during the year. These conversations centered around semantical issues related to the analytic/synthetic distinction and on the project of a finitist/nominalist construction of mathematics and science. Carnap’s Nachlass in Pittsburgh contains a set of detailed notes, amounting to more than eighty pages, taken by Carnap while these discussion were taking place. In my talk I present a survey of these notes with special emphasis on Tarski’s rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction, the passage from typed languages to first-order languages, Tarski’s finitism/nominalism, and the construction of a finitist language for mathematics and science.