27 Jan 2017: Computing with numbers and other non-syntactic things: de re knowledge of abstract objects

Stewart Shapiro

Michael Rescorla has argued that it makes sense to compute directly with numbers, and he faulted Turing for not giving an analysis of number-theoretic computability. However, in line with a later paper of his, it only makes sense to compute directly with syntactic entities, such as strings on a given alphabet. Computing with numbers goes via notation. This raises broader issues involving de re propositional attitudes towards numbers and other non-syntactic abstract entities.