The Classical Continuum without Points

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Geoffrey Hellman, Stewart Shapiro
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conference paper description
We develop a point-free construction of the classical one- dimensional continuum, with an interval structure based on mereology and either a weak set theory or logic of plural quantification. In some respects this realizes ideas going back to Aristotle,although, unlike Aristotle, we make free use of classical "actual infinity". Also, in contrast to intuitionistic, Bishop, and smooth infinitesimal analysis, we follow classical analysis in allowing partitioning of our "gunky line" into mutually exclusive and exhaustive disjoint parts, thereby demonstrating the independence of "indecomposability" from a non-punctiform conception. It is surprising that such simple axioms as ours already imply the Archimedean property and that they determine an isomorphism with the Dedekind-Cantor structure of R as a complete, separable, ordered field. We also present some simple topological models of our system, establishing consistency relative to classical analysis. Finally, after describing how to nominalize our theory, we close with comparisons with earlier efforts related to our own.

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