James Franklin (philosopher)
Life and career
Franklin was educated at St. Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, New South Wales. His undergraduate work was at the University of Sydney (1971–74), where he attended St John's College and he was influenced by philosophers David Stove and David Armstrong. He completed his PhD in 1981 at the University of Warwick, on algebraic groups. Since 1981 he has taught in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales.
His research areas include the philosophy of mathematics and the 'formal sciences', the history of probability, Australian Catholic history, the parallel between ethics and mathematics (work for which he received the 2005 Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics), restraint, the quantification of rights in applied ethics, and the analysis of extreme risk. Franklin is the literary executor of David Stove.
His 2001 book, The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal, covered the development of thinking about uncertain evidence over many centuries up to 1650. Its central theme was ancient and medieval work on the law of evidence, which developed concepts like half-proof, similar to modern proof beyond reasonable doubt, as well as analyses of aleatory contracts like insurance and gambling.
In the philosophy of mathematics, he defends an Aristotelian realist theory, according to which mathematics is about certain real features of the world, namely the quantitative and structural features (such as ratios and symmetry). The theory stands in opposition to both Platonism and nominalism, and emphasises applied mathematics and mathematical modelling as the most philosophically central parts of mathematics. He is the founder of the Sydney School in the philosophy of mathematics.
In 2008 he set up the Australian Database of Indigenous Violence.
Franklin has written several books and articles:
- 1996 and 2011, Proof in Mathematics: An Introduction ISBN 978-1-876192-00-6, originally published as Introduction to Proofs in Mathematics, in 1988.
- 2001, repr. 2015, The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal ISBN 978-0-8018-7109-2;
- 2003, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia ISBN 978-1-876492-08-3;
- 2006, Catholic Values and Australian Realities ISBN 978-0-9758015-4-3;
- 2007, Life to the Full: Rights and Social Justice in Australia (edited) ISBN 978-1-921421-00-6
- 2009, What Science Knows: And How It Knows It ISBN 978-1-59403-207-3
- 2014, An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics ISBN 978-1-137-40072-7
- 2015, The Real Archbishop Mannix: From the Sources ISBN 9781925138344
Articles (a selection):
- 1994, The formal sciences discover the philosophers’stone, in: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Volume 25, No. 4, 513–533, Elsevier Science Ltd.
- 2000, Thomas Kuhn's irrationalism at the Wayback Machine (archived April 15, 2008), in: The New Criterion, Volume 18, No. 10, June 2000.
- 2000, Diagrammatic reasoning and modelling in the imagination: the secret weapons of the Scientific Revolution, in: 1543 and All That: Image and Word, Change and Continuity in the Proto-Scientific Revolution, ed. G. Freeland & A. Corones, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 53–115.
- 2003, The representation of context: ideas from artificial intelligence in: Law, Probability and Risk 2, 191–199.
- 2006, Chapter on 'Artifice and the natural world: Mathematics, logic, technology', in: Cambridge History of Eighteenth Century Philosophy, ed. K. Haakonssen, Cambridge, 2006, 817–853.
- 2010, The postmodern calculus, New Criterion 29 (1) (Sept 2010), 75-80.
- J.W. Franklin in Mathematics Genealogy Project
- J. Hawkins, Casting light on the shadow of doubt, review of Science of Conjecture, Science 294, Oct 19, 2001.
- D. Oderberg, Hegel hits the beach, review of Corrupting the Youth, Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 2004.
- J. Franklin, The mathematical world, Aeon 7 Apr 2014; M. Jones, Review of An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophia Mathematica 23 (2) (2015), 281-8.
- Australian Catholic Historical Society website