Justifying Definitions in Mathematics—Going Beyond Lakatos

Publication Year:
2009
Usage 2912
Downloads 2912
Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4537
Author(s):
Werndl, Charlotte
preprint description
This paper addresses the actual practice of justifying definitions in mathematics. First, I introduce the main account of this issue, namely Lakatos's proof-generated definitions. Based on a case study of definitions of randomness in ergodic theory, I identify three other common ways of justifying definitions: natural-world-justification, condition-justification and redundancy-justification. Also, I clarify the interrelationships between the different kinds of justification. Finally, I point out how Lakatos's ideas are limited: they fail to show that various kinds of justification can be found and can be reasonable, and they fail to acknowledge the interplay between the different kinds of justification.