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Unit information: Philosophy and History of Mathematics in 2020/21

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Unit name Philosophy and History of Mathematics
Unit code PHILM0016
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Fujimoto
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will discuss some of the main programmes in recent and contemporary philosophy of mathematics. Topics might include, for instance: Gottlob Frege's logicist project and the neo-logicist programme of Bob Hale and Crispin Wright; the structuralist programme of Michael Resnik and Stewart Shapiro; the fictionalist programme of Stephen Yablo; David Hilbert's finitist project.


The aim of this seminar is to bring students to a level where they can understand and critically interact with recent research in philosophy and history of mathematics. After taking this seminar, they should be ready to carry out research that makes a contribution to the state of knowledge in the field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have knowledge and understanding of core issues in the philosophy of mathematics including issues to do with the ontology and epistemology of mathematics. Have knowledge and understanding of the skills and methodology required to do work in these areas.
  1. Be able to give clear and concise presentations, both orally and in written form, of complex and technical material. Be able to make effective use of Information Technology. Be able to conduct independent research into a new topic, using online and library resources. Be able to analyze and understand difficult texts and critically assess them. And be able to write clear academic prose.

Teaching Information

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Information

Summative Assessment: One essay of up to 6,000 words (excluding bibliography) - 100%

Reading and References

  • Stewart Shapiro, Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology, OUP 1997
  • Stephen Yablo, The Myth of the Seven (available from his home page)
  • Demopoulos (ed.), Frege's Philosophy of Mathematics, Harvard UP 1995
  • Shapiro, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic, OUP 2005