Varieties of Mathematics in Economics- A Partial View
Real analysis, founded on the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, buttressed by the axiom of choice, is the dominant variety of mathematics utilized in the formalization of economic theory. The accident of history that led to this dominance is not inevitable, especially in an age when the digital computer seems to be ubiquitous in research, teaching and learning. At least three other varieties of mathematics, each underpinned by its own mathematical logic, have come to be used in the formalization of mathematics in more recent years. To set theory, model theory, proof theory and recursion theory correspond, roughly speaking, real analysis, non-standard analysis, constructive analysis and computable analysis. These other varieties, we claim, are more consistent with the intrinsic nature and ontology of economic concepts. In this paper we discuss aspects of the way real analysis dominates the mathematical formalization of economic theory and the prospects for overcoming this dominance.
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