Saving proof from paradox: Gödel’s paradox and the inconsistency of informal mathematics

2019-08-14T08:12:42Z (GMT) by Fenner Tanswell
In this paper I shall consider two related avenues of argument that have been used to make the case for the inconsistency of mathematics: firstly, Gödel’s paradox which leads to a contradiction within mathematics and, secondly, the incompatibility of completeness and consistency established by Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. By bringing in considerations from the philosophy of mathematical practice on informal proofs, I suggest that we should add to the two axes of completeness and consistency a third axis of formality and informality. I use this perspective to respond to the arguments for the inconsistency of mathematics made by Beall and Priest, presenting problems with the assumptions needed concerning formalisation, the unity of informal mathematics and the relation between the formal and informal.