papers

published

(forthcoming) Hume’s principle, bad company, and the axiom of choice (with Stewart Shapiro). The Review of Symbolic Logic. Penultimate draft: PDF.

One prominent criticism of the abstractionist program is the so-called Bad Company objection. The complaint is that abstraction principles cannot in general be a legitimate way to introduce mathematical theories, since some of them are inconsistent. The most notorious example, of course, is Frege’s Basic Law V. A common response to the objection suggests that an abstraction principle can be used to legitimately introduce a mathematical theory precisely when it is stablewhen it can be made true on all sufficiently large domains. In this paper, we raise a worry for this response to the Bad Company objection. We argue, perhaps surprisingly, that it requires very strong assumptions about the range of the second-order quantifiers; assumptions that the abstractionist should reject.

(forthcoming) Pluralities as nothing over and above. Journal of Philosophy. Penultimate draft: PDF.

This paper develops an account of pluralities based on the following simple claim: some things are nothing over and above the individual things they comprise. For some, this may seem like a mysterious statement, perhaps even meaningless; for others, like a truism, trivial and inferentially inert. I show that neither reaction is correct: the claim is both tractable and has important consequences for a number of debates in philosophy.

(2020) Classless. Analysis, 80(1), pp. 76-83. Penultimate draft: PDF.

This note proves a new conservativity result for class theories. It tells us that as long as our set theory T contains an independently well-motivated reflection principle, anything provable about the sets in any reasonable class theory extending T is already provable in T itself. 

(2019) Modal structuralism and reflection. The Review of Symbolic Logic, 12(4), pp. 823-860. Penultimate draft: PDF.

This paper investigates the assumptions underlying modal structuralism, and looks at the prospects for supplementing them with a reflection principle. It shows that the viability of modal structuralism about set theory turns on a non-trivial assumption — the Stability principle — about the behaviour of structures across modal space. Once this assumption is accepted, however, I show that the modal structuralist can make sense of a significant fragment of set theory. The axiom schema of Replacement requires further assumptions, though, and I show that a recent proposal to use reflection principles to obtain it fails.

(2017) A strong reflection principle. The Review of Symbolic Logic, 10(4), pp. 651-662. Penultimate draft: PDF.

This paper introduces a new reflection principle. It says that whatever is true in all entities of some kind is also true in a small collection of them. When applied to sets and classes, it turns out to be remarkably strong (implying that there are so-called 1-extendible cardinals).

drafts

Ultimate V.

Potentialism is the view that the universe of mathematics is inherently potential. It comes in two main flavours: height-potentialism and width-potentialism. It is natural to think that height and width potentialism are just aspects of a broader phenomenon of potentialism, that they might both be true. The main result of this paper is that this is mistaken: height and width potentialism are jointly inconsistent. Indeed, I will argue that height potentialism is independently committed to an ultimate background universe of sets, an ultimate V, up to its height.

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