Re: Paper and slides on indefiniteness of CH

Dear Sy,

A. The principles in the hierarchy IMH(Inaccessible), IMH(Mahlo), IMH(the Erdos cardinal \kappa_\omega exists), etc. up to \textsf{IMH}^\# must be regarded as ad hoc unless one can explain the restriction to models that satisfy Inaccessibles, Mahlos, \kappa_\omega, etc. and #-generation, respectively.

One of my points was that #-generation is ad hoc (for many reasons,
one being that you use the # to get everything below it and then you
ignore the #). There has not been a discussion of the case for
#-generation in this thread. It would be good if you could give an
account of it and make a case for it on the basis of “length
maximality”. In particular, it would be good if you could explain how
it is a form of “reflection” that reaches the Erdos cardinal

B. It is true that we now know (after Hugh’s consistency proof of
\textsf{IMH}^\#) that \textsf{IMH}^\#(\omega_1) is stronger than \textsf{IMH}^\# in the sense that the large cardinals required to obtain its consistency are stronger. But in contrast to \textsf{IMH}^\# it has the drawback that it is not consistent with all large cardinals. Indeed it implies that there is a real x such that \omega_1=\omega_1^{L[x]} and (in your letter about Max) you have already rejected any principle with that implication. So I am not sure why you are bringing it up.

(The case of \textsf{IMH}^\#\text{(card-arith)} is more interesting. It has a standing chance, by your lights. But it is reasonable to conjecture (as Hugh did) that it implies GCH and if that conjecture is true then there is a real x such that \omega_1=\omega_1^{L[x]}, and, should that turn out to be true, you would reject it.)

2. What I called “Magidor’s embedding reflection” in fact appears in a paper by Victoria Marshall (JSL 54, No.2). As it violates V = L it is not a form of height maximality (the problem  is with the internal embeddings involved; if the embeddings are external then one gets a weak form of #-generation). Indeed Marshall Reflection does not appear to be a form of maximality in height or width at all.

No, Magidor Embedding Reflection appears in Magidor 1971, well before Marshall 1989. [Marshall discusses Kanamori and Magidor 1977, which contains an account of Magidor 1971.]

You say: “I don’t think that any arguments based on the vague notion of “maximality” provide us with much in the way of justification”. Wow! So you don’t think that inaccessibles are justified on the basis of reflection! Sounds like you’ve been talking to the radical Pen Maddy, who doesn’t believe in any form of intrinsic justification.

My comment was about the loose notion of “maximality” as you use it, not about “reflection”. You already know what I think about “reflection”.

3. Here’s the most remarkable part of your message. You say:

Different people have different views of what “good set theory” amounts to. There’s little intersubjective agreement. In my view, such a vague notion has no place in a foundational enterprise.

In this thread I have repeatedly and without objection taken Pen’s Thin Realism to be grounded on “good set theory” (or if looking beyond set theory, on “good mathematics”). So you have now rejected not only the HP, but also Thin Realism. My view is that Pen got it exactly right when it comes to evidence from the practice of set theory, one must only acknowledge that such evidence is limited by the lack of consensus on what “good set theory” means.

You are right to say that there is value to “predictions” and “verifications”. But these only serve to make a “good set theory” better. They don’t really change much, as even if a brand of “good set theory” fails to fulfill one of its “predictions”, it can still maintain its high status. Take the example of Forcing Axioms: They have been and always will be regarded as “good set theory”, even if the “prediction” that you attribute to them fails to materialise.

Peter, your unhesitating rejection of approaches to set-theoretic truth is not helpful. You faulted the HP for not being “well-grounded” as its grounding leans on a consensus regarding the “maximality of V in height and width”. Now you fault Thin Realism (TR) for not being “well-grounded” as its grounding leans on “good set theory”. There is an analogy between TR and the HP: Like Pen’s second philosopher, Max (the Maximality Man) is fascinated by the idea of maximality of V in height and width and he “sets out to discover what the world of maximality is like, the range of what there is to the notion and its various properties and behaviours”. In light of this analogy, it is reasonable that someone who likes Thin Realism would also like the HP and vice-versa. It seems that you reject both, yet fail to provide a good substitute. How can we possibly make progress in our understanding of set-theoretic truth with such skepticism? What I hear from Pen and Hugh is a “wait and see” attitude, they want to know what criteria and consensus comes out of the HP. Yet you want to reject the approach out of hand. I don’t get it. Are you a pessimist at heart?

No, I am an unrepentant optimist. (More below.)

It seems to me that in light of your rejection of both TR and HP, the natural way for you to go is “radical skepticism”, which denies this whole discussion of set-theoretic truth in the first place. (Pen claimed to be a radical skeptic, but I don’t entirely believe it, as she does offer us Thin Realism.) Maybe Pen’s Arealism is your real cup of tea?

A. I don’t see how you got from my statement

Different people have different views of what “good set theory” amounts to. There’s little intersubjective agreement. In my view, such a vague notion has no place in a foundational enterprise.

to conclusions about my views realism and truth (e.g. my “[rejection]
….of Thin Realism” and my “unhesitating rejection of approaches to
set-theoretic truth”)!

Let’s look at the rest of the passage:

“The key notion is evidence, evidence of a form that people can agree on. That is the virtue of actually making a prediction for which there is agreement (not necessarily universal — there are few things beyond the law of identity that everyone agrees on — but which is widespread) that if it is proved it will strengthen the case and if it is refuted it will weaken the case.

I said nothing about realism or about truth. I said something only about the epistemic notion that is at play in a case (of the kind you call Type-1) for new axioms, namely, that it is not the notion of “good set theory” (a highly subjective, personal notion, where there is little agreement) but rather the notion of evidence (of a sort where there is agreement).

B. I was criticizing the employment of the notion of “good set theory” as you use it, not as Pen uses it.

As you use it Jensen’s work on V = L is “good set theory” and the work on ZF+AD is “good set theory” (in fact, both are cases of “great set theory”). On that we can all agree. (One can multiply examples:
Barwise on KP, etc.) But that has nothing to do with whether we should accept V = L or ZF+AD.

As Pen uses it involves evidence in the straightforward sense that I have been talking about.  (Actually, as far as I can tell she doesn’t use the phrase in her work. E.g. it does not occur in her most detailed book on the subject, “Second Philosophy”. She has simply used it in this thread as a catch phrase for something she describes in more detail, something involving evidence). Moreover, as paradigm examples of evidence she cites precisely the examples that John, Tony, Hugh, and I have given.

In summary, I was saying nothing about realism or truth; I was saying something about epistemology. I was saying: The notion of “good set theory” (as you use it) has no epistemic role to play in a case for new axioms. But the notion of evidence does.

So when you talk about Type 1 evidence, you shouldn’t be talking about “practice” and “good set theory”. The key epistemic notion is rather evidence of the kind that has been put forward, e.g. the kind that involves sustained prediction and confirmation.

[I don't pretend that the notion of evidence in mathematics (and
especially in this region, where independence reigns), is a straightforward matter. The explication of this notion is one of the main things I have worked on. I talked about it in my tutorial when we were at Chiemsee. You already have the slides but I am attaching them here in case anyone else is interested. It contains both an outline of the epistemic framework and the case for \text{AD}^{L(\mathbb R)} in the context of this framework. A more detailed account is in the book I have been writing (for several years now...)]

[C. Aside: Although I said nothing about realism, since you attributed views on the matter to me, let me say something briefly: It is probably the most delicate notion in philosophy. I do not have a settled view. But I am certainly not a Robust Realist (as characterized by Pen) or a Super-Realist (as characterized by Tait), since each leads to what Tait calls "an alienation of truth from proof." The view I have defended (in "Truth in Mathematics: The Question of Pluralism") has much more in common with Thin Realism.]

So I was too honest, I should not have admitted to a radical form of multiversism (radical potentialism), as it is then easy to misundertand the HP as you have. As far as the choice of maximality criteria, I can only repeat myself: Please be open-minded and do not prejudge the programme before seeing the criteria that it generates. You will see that our intuitions about maximality criteria are more robust than our intuitions about “good set theory”.

I have been focusing on CTM-Space because (a) you said quite clearly that you were a radical potentialist and (b) the principles you have put forward are formulated in that context. But now you have changed your program yet again. There have been a lot of changes.
(1) The original claim

I conjecture that CH is false as a consequence of my Strong Inner Model Hypothesis (i.e. Levy absoluteness with “cardinal-absolute parameters” for cardinal-preserving extensions) or one of its variants which is compatible with large cardinals existence. (Aug. 12)

has been updated to

With apologies to all, I want to say that I find this focus on CH to be exaggerated. I think it is hopeless to come to any kind of resolution of this problem, whereas I think there may be a much better chance with other axioms of set theory such as PD and large cardinals. (Oct. 25)

(2) The (strong) notion of “intrinsic justification” has been replaced by the (weak) notion of “intrinsic heurisitic”.

(3) Now, the background picture of “radical potentialism” has been
replaced by “width-actualism + height potentialism”.

(4) Now, as a consequence of (3), the old principles \textsf{IMH}^\#\textsf{IMH}^\#(\omega_1), \textsf{IMH}^\#\text{(card-arith)}, \textsf{SIMH}, \textsf{SIMH}^\#, etc. have been  replaced by New-\textsf{IMH}^\#, New-\textsf{IMH}^\#(\omega_1), etc.

Am I optimistic about this program, program X? Well, it depends on
what X is. I have just been trying to understand X.

Now, in light of the changes (3) and (4), X has changed and we have to start over. We have a new philosophical picture and a whole new collection of mathematical principles. The first question is obviously: Are these new principles even consistent?

I am certainly optimistic about this: If under the scrutiny of people like Hugh and Pen you keep updating X, then X will get clearer and more tenable.

That, I think, is one of the great advantages of this forum. I doubt that a program has ever received such rapid philosophical and mathematical scrutiny. It would be good to do this for other programs, like the Ultimate-L program. (We have given that program some scrutiny. So far, there has been no need for mathematical-updating — there has been no need to modify the Ultimate-L Conjecture or the HOD-Conjecture.)


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