Logic Café colloquium of the Department of Philosophy

Mi, 09.11.2022

Yacin Hamami (Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel):
"Understanding Mathematical Proofs from a Planning Perspective".


What does it mean to understand a mathematical proof? Poincaré has suggested that, in understanding a mathematical proof, one wants to know "not only whether all the syllogisms of a demonstration are correct, but why they are linked together in one order rather than in another" (Poincaré, 1908, p.118). In this talk, I will sketch an account of the understanding of mathematical proofs which aims to be faithful to Poincaré's perspective. The main idea to be developed is that a mathematical agent understands a mathematical proof P whenever she can rationally reconstruct the plan underlying P. This characterization will be fleshed out using the notion of proof plan proposed in Hamami and Morris (forthcoming) which adopts an action-perspective on mathematical proofs and which builds on Bratman's theory of planning agency (Bratman, 1987). I will illustrate the resulting account on concrete examples, I will argue that it captures important aspects of Poincaré's perspective, and I will finally compare it to the accounts proposed by Avigad (2008) and Resnik (1996).

  • Jeremy Avigad. Understanding proofs. In Paolo Mancosu, editor, The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008.
  • Michael E. Bratman. Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1987.
  • Yacin Hamami and Rebecca Morris. Plans and planning in mathematical proofs. The Review of Symbolic Logic, forthcoming.
  • Henri Poincaré. Science et Méthode. Flammarion, Paris, 1908.
  • Michael D. Resnik. On understanding mathematical proofs. In J.L. Greffe, G. Heinzmann, and K. Lorenz, editors, Henri Poincaré. Wissensdiajt und Philosophie. Akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1996.


Upcoming events of the Logic Café:

Meetings in this semester will be held in presence, usually on Mondays, between 16:45 and 18:15. The meetings will be held in seminar room 3D (D0316, NIG; 3rd floor) at the Department of Philosophy, Universitätsstrasse 7.
Please see our website for further information on the Logic Café colloquium, for past events, and regular updates: https://logik-cafe.univie.ac.at