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Harvard 1940–1941: Tarski, Carnap and Quine on a finitistic language of mathematics for science

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Tarski, Carnap and Quine spent the academic year 1940–1941 together at Harvard. In their autobiographies, both Carnap and Quine highlight the importance of the conversations that took place among them during the year. These conversations centred around semantical issues related to the analytic/synthetic distinction and on the project of a finitist/nominalist construction of mathematics and science. Carnap's NachlaƟ in Pittsburgh contains a set of detailed notes, amounting to more than 80 typescripted pages, taken by Carnap while these discussions were taking place. In my article, I present a survey of these notes with special emphasis on Tarski's rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction, the passage from typed languages to first-order languages, Tarski's finitism/nominalism, and the construction of a finitist language for mathematics and science.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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