Varieties of Continua: From Regions to Points and Back

ISBN : 9780198712749

Geoffrey Hellman; Stewart Shapiro
224 ページ
153 x 234 mm

Varieties of Continua explores the development of the idea of the continuous. Hellman and Shapiro begin with two historical episodes. The first is the remarkably rapid transition in the course of the nineteenth century from the ancient Aristotelian view, that a true continuum cannot be composed of points, to the now standard, entirely punctiform frameworks for analysis and geometry found in modern texts (stemming from the work of Bolzano, Cauchy, Weierstrass, Dedekind, Cantor, et al.). The second is the mid-to-late-twentieth century revival of pre-limit methods in analysis and geometry using infinitesimals, non-standard analysis due to Abraham Robinson, and the more radical smooth infinitesimal analysis based on intuitionistic logic. Hellman and Shapiro develop a systematic comparison of these and related alternatives (including constructivist and predicative conceptions), balancing various trade-offs, helping articulate a modern pluralist perspective. A second main goal of the book is to develop thoroughgoing regions-based theories of classical continua that are mathematically equivalent (inter-reducible) to the currently standard, punctiform accounts of modern texts. The theories developed by Hellman and Shapiro offer a more streamlined, unified and comprehensive study than others in the contemporary literature.


1 The Old Orthodoxy (Aristotle) vs the New Orthodoxy (Dedekind-Cantor)
2 The classical continuum without points
3 Aristotelian and Predicative Continua
4 Real numbers on an Aristotelian continuum
5 Regions-based Two Dimensional Continua: The Euclidean Case
6 Non-Euclidean Extensions
7 The matter of points
8 Scorecard


Stewart Shapiro received an MA in mathematics in 1975, and a PhD in philosophy in 1978, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is currently the O'Donnell Professor of Philosophy at the Ohio State University. He specializes in philosophy of mathematics, logic, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of language.; Geoffrey Hellman focussed on philosophy of language and general issues in philosophy of science in the early part of his career. Since the mid-70's he has concentrated on philosophy of physics, especially quantum mechanics, and philosophy and foundations of mathematics. He has also worked on topics in the philosophy of logic, with contributions on the Quine-Carnap debates on the nature of logical truth, on the communication problem between intuitionism and classicism in mathematics, and on pluralism in logic and mathematics.