Philosophy and Mathematics - PHIL6440

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module will cover three areas, namely the historical mutual influence of mathematics and philosophy from Ancient Greece to the 19th century; the foundational crisis 1880-1930; and; current issues in philosophy of mathematics. Thinkers and topics that might be covered include Pythagoras, Plato, Islamic world, Renaissance, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Dedekind, Frege, Russell, Gödel, Wittgenstein's philosophy of mathematics, Lakatos' Proofs and Refutations, revolutions in mathematics, and the applicability of mathematics.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40


Also available at Level 6 (PL645)

Method of assessment

• Seminar Participation – 15%
• Review Assignment (1,800 words) – 30%
• Essay (3,200 words) – 55%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Aristotle (1989). Prior Analytics. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing
Benacerraf, P. and Putnam H., (eds.) (1984). Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Euclid (2002). Euclid's Elements. Santa Fe, N.M: Green Lion Press
Gillies, D. (ed.) (1995). Revolutions in Mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Jones, M. (2006). The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the Cultivation of Virtue. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Plato (2007). The Republic. London: Penguin Classics

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:
Demonstrate critical understanding of some episodes in the history of the engagement between philosophy and mathematics;
Demonstrate critical understanding of the philosophical issues at stake in the Foundational Crisis;
Outline rival positions concerning some of the topics treated in Current Issues.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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