Formalism (philosophy) - Mathematics


In the foundations of mathematics, formalism is associated with a certain rigorous mathematical method: see formal system. In common usage, a formalism means the out-turn of the effort towards formalisation of a given limited area. In other words, matters can be formally discussed once captured in a formal system, or commonly enough within something formalisable with claims to be one. Complete formalisation is in the domain of computer science.

Formalism also more precisely refers to a certain school in the philosophy of mathematics, stressing axiomatic proofs through theorems, specifically associated with David Hilbert. In the philosophy of mathematics, therefore, a formalist is a person who belongs to the school of formalism, which is a certain mathematical-philosophical doctrine descending from Hilbert.

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