Numbers and other mathematical objects are exceptional in having no locations in space or time or relations of cause and effect. This makes it difficult to account for the possibility of the knowledge of such objects, leading many philosophers to embrace nominalism, the doctrine that there are no such objects, and to embark on ambitious projects for interpreting mathematics so as to preserve the subject while eliminating its objects. A Subject With No Object cuts through a host of technicalities that have obscured previous discussions of these projects, and presents clear, concise accounts, with minimal prerequisites, of a dozen strategies for nominalistic interpretation of mathematics, thus equipping the reader to evaluate each
and to compare different ones. The authors also offer critical discussion, rare in the literature, of the aims and claims of nominalistic interpretation, suggesting that it is significant in a very different way from that usually assumed.
Readership: Scholars and advanced students of philosophy of mathematics, logic, and metaphysics.
John P. Burgess, Professor of Philosophy, and Gideon Rosen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, both at Princeton University, New Jersey
"John P. Burgess amd Gideon Rosen, A Subject with No Object: Strategies for Nominalistic Interpretation of Mathematics. ,,, works on Nominalism have come to dominate the philosophy of mathematics, so a work that organizes the material is useful. ... It is rare to find such a comprehensive, and fair, account of a position for which the authors (on their own account) have little sympathy. ... it contains, for a little book, an astonishing amount of information about philosophy and many other things, from Einstein to Latour." - Mark Steiner, The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly 50 (January 2001)
"An important book." - The Economist Review
"This book has many virtues. It is concentrated on fundamental questions in the philosophy of mathematics, which it explores with an open mind - or even two open minds; it is richly informed and informative in its clear exposition of the details of nominalistic reconstruction programs ... No attempt will be made here even to summarize the rich and extensive content of this part, except to say that a great service has been performed for both students and professionals interested in this subject. The formal essence of the programs is clearly laid out in each case, with just enough detail to give the reader a real sense of how the program in question works but not so much as to obscure the broader picture ... it should be clear that this book is of great value and interest and that, on the
whole, it exemplifies philosophy practiced at its best." - Geoffrey Hellman, Philosophia Mathematica
"A very informative and well-written book." - Alex Blum, Mathematical Reviews
"The book gives a concise and very valuable survey of this part of the present philosophy of mathematics that should be of interest not only for philosophers but also for the working mathematician." - Zentralblatt fur Mathematik
"The authors give a useful and instructive tour of the various formal approaches. B&R's book will hopefully spark a lively discussion, if not an intense debate, among the philosophers involved, favourably or not, in what is called a nominalistic approach to mathematics and its applications." - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol.30 No.1, March 2000
"An important book. The Economist (UK), February 2000"