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Poincaré’s philosophy: from conventionalism to phenomenology. (English) Zbl 1097.00005
Chicago, IL: Open Court (ISBN 0-8126-9435-X/pbk). viii, 264 p. (2001).
Poincaré was a great scientist and a great philosopher at the same time. Yet his philosophical writings sometimes seems to lack unity. In this outstanding book Elie Zahar gives a rational reconstruction of Poincaré’s philosophical position. Poincaré turns out to be a structural realist with empiricist inclinations whose conventionalism is basically the adherence to a principle of the mathematical coherence of a theory. The book contains thorough discussions of Poincaré’s philosophy of geometry, his relativity programme and his views on the foundations of mathematics. The book is more than a historical study. Zahar also discusses Poincaré’s position in relation with modern debates, for example those concerning Hartry Field’s argument on the dispensability of mathematics.

MSC:
00A30 Philosophy of mathematics
03A05 Philosophical and critical aspects of logic and foundations
01-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to history and biography
03-02 Research exposition (monographs, survey articles) pertaining to mathematical logic and foundations
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century
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