Set theory: universe or multiverse? Vienna, 2011

This talk was held as part of the Logic Cafe series at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Vienna, October 31, 2011.

A traditional Platonist view in set theory, what I call the universe view, holds that there is an absolute background concept of set and a corresponding absolute background set-theoretic universe in which every set-theoretic assertion has a final, definitive truth value. On the multiverse view, in constrast, there are many distinct concepts of set, each instantiated in a corresponding set-theoretic universe, and a corresponding pluralism of set-theoretic truths. In this talk, after framing the debate, I shall argue that the multiverse position explains our experience with the enormous diversity of set-theoretic possibilities, a phenomenon that challenges the universe view. In particular, I shall argue that the continuum hypothesis is settled on the multiverse view by our extensive knowledge about how it behaves in the multiverse, and as a result it can no longer be settled in the manner formerly hoped for.

Slides | Article | Logic Cafe, Uni. Wien

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