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    • CommentAuthorrpagliari
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2011
    I recently ask this question

    about what philosopers should know about math. I don't think it's off topic. There is a fair amount of questions not necessarily related to technical issues. I can give you a list but you can check yourself. That aside, I think my question is interesting, especially because it's a good thing to have an opinion by both mathematicians and philosophers on this subject.
    • CommentAuthorgrp
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2011
    I agree that the question is interesting. I think it worthy of discussion and that it would be nice to get many points of view from mathematicians who are interested in discussing it.

    Having said that, some have deemed it unsuitable for MathOverflow. A proper reply would involve more discussion than this platform intends to handle; the question is not so much of interest to mathematicians ( and the MO community ) as it is to philosophers; the presence of the word "should" leads to subjective interpretation and responses, and may result in more heat than light.

    There may come a day when the MathOverflow community is ready for your question. I submit that such a day will not come before the end of this year. I will join you, however, in inviting suggestions as to where such a question would be favorably received. There may be a philosophy.stackexchange forum, and hopefully other possibilities will be provided by some of the community members.

    Gerhard "Email Me About System Design" Paseman, 2011.07.05
    • CommentAuthorvoloch
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2011
    Wasn't your question already answered, despite being closed?

    I agree with @grp.

    MO is not "ready" in the sense that enough people do not believe such questions could hold interesting answers (for them individually) -- and they are not even willing to give it the benefit of the doubt: see what answers actually appear and let the community measure this by up- and down-votes.

    Maybe, in the future, the mentality will change and relax about this kind of thing, who knows. Probably, it won't for the next few years until a second generation of users develops.

    In the mean time, you could

    • CommentAuthorJDH
    • CommentTimeJul 5th 2011 edited
    I have voted to reopen the question, since I find it both interesting and relevant, although I also would find it very hard for someone to improve upon Jeremy Shipley's answer. But I would certainly be interested to read an answer from someone who could.

    Meanwhile, please note that the question has already also been asked at the philosophy forum at But that question aims to receive answers from mathematically-minded philosophers, and what is desired here instead I think are answers from philosophically-minded mathematicians.

    Ah! Thanks, Joel. I hadn't check whether it had already been posted... Silly me.


    Although the question has some intrinsic interest, I was one of those who voted to close, and I would do so again. I just feel that the question, especially as it was phrased, invited argument, and more importantly was being asked of the wrong audience. Why should mathematicians presume to know what philosophers "should" know about mathematics?

    The mention of Markovian processes just seemed like one-upsmanship, I'm afraid, though I accept it probably wasn't intended as such.

    The part of the question that read

    Does the lack of knowledge about math or science in general, have an impact on a philosopher's ability to reason about the world and figure the right path to follow?

    seemed to me either vague or almost impossible to answer properly. Are we talking about a hypothetical philosopher? the Platonic ideal of a philosopher? actual philosophers, naming names and giving examples?

    I would have much more time for questions like "What should analysts know about category theory?", even though I think that question would also be open to the charge of being subjective+argumentative; but at least some analysts might read the question, and it is their answers which would ultimately be more valuable. (In contrast, "what are some good applications of category theory to analysis?" would be a question where I'd be most interested to hear from the categorists.)

    In short: it seemed to me that a proper answer to the question, as opposed to one that made everyone feel superior, was unlikely to materialize, and that if left open the question would attract answers of low quality. But this, I admit, remains a fairly subjective call on my part.