Jamie Tappenden

Office: 2228 Angell Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Email: tappen@umich.edu
Office Telephone: 734-764-2450
Last updated: 29 May 2008


Curriculum Vitae


Some Online Papers:

Here are two papers on mathematical concepts and definitions for a forthcoming book edited by Paolo Mancosu; These are first steps in the direction of making sense of the idea that some mathematical properties and definitions might be more “natural” than others. To conform to the format of the book, the first of these essays is meant to be survey-ish and introductory, so I just touch on some issues that need further development. In the first paper I use the definition of “prime number” and the introduction of the Legendre symbol in number theory as my core examples.


Mathematical Concepts and Definitions


Mathematical Concepts: Fruitfulness and Naturalness


The first half of my forthcoming book is a study of Frege and his nineteenth century mathematical environment, as well as a glimpse into some of  these independently exciting and philosophically interesting mid-nineteenth century developments, exemplified by the contrast in styles of Riemann and Weierstrass. There are a lot of details; an overview of the historical background, and an overview of the connection to Frege, appears in this article “The Riemannian Background to Frege’s Philosophy”. The link is to uncorrected page proofs: the article appears in The Architecture of Modern Mathematics (OUP 2006) edited by Jeremy Gray and Jose Ferreirós:

The Riemannian Background to Frege’s Philosophy


One of my current research objectives is to chart out the details and philosophical interest of Riemann’s idea (picked up by Dedekind and others) that proper mathematical method involves defining concepts by “essential characteristics”. Among the criteria for recognizing when a function has been properly defined by essential characteristics is fruitfulness in supporting easy arguments for problems that had previously required “tiresome computations”. A first step toward working out these details is this paper, which recently appeared in Dialectica. It takes as its organizing focus Frege’s “Julius Caesar Problem”. The link is to uncorrected page proofs:

The Caesar Problem in its Historical Context: Mathematical Background


Here is a revised version of the “Metatheory and Mathematical Practice in Frege” paper – it has been edited and considerably shortened (at the request of the editors), for republication in the Reck – Beaney collection of papers on Frege. I’ve added a few new observations on more recent work, but for the most part I’ve tried to avoid extensive rewriting. The main result of the editing is that a paper that had been an inefficient hybrid of some details of the history of mathematics and some critical analysis of the “no metatheory in Frege” interpretation of Frege is now distilled into just a critical discussion of the “no metatheory” view. (The history of mathematics details will reappear elsewhere.) I’m told this version is much easier to read. (May 2005: further historical information, about “transfer principles” added at the editors request.) Link is to uncorrected page proofs.

Metatheory and Mathematical Practice in Frege (significantly shortened and slightly updated with new material)


A first attempt to make some sense of mathematical explanation and understanding, with special reference to visualization and unification – based accounts of understanding. Forthcoming in a volume on mathematical explanation, understanding and visualization edited by Paolo Mancosu and Klaus Jørensen. (uncorrected page proofs – so there may be typos, etc.) Comments most welcome. I hope that I will be allowed to immodestly claim that this contains the best account ever written of the philosophical significance of the 1905 Quebec Bridge collapse.

Proofstyle and Understanding in Mathematics I: Visualization, Unification and Axiom Choice

Here’s a link to the book in which the above article appears


Metatheory and Mathematical Practice in Frege (appeared in Philosophical Topics Fall 1997 issue [actually appeared in print 1998])

OOPS: the pdf file linked above is missing a page. Here is a copy of the missing page: Page 223

The Liar and Sorites Paradoxes: Toward a Unified Treatment (appeared in Journal of Philosophy Fall 1993; Reprinted in Delia Graff and Tim Williamson’s collection Vagueness (Ashgate press))

Extending Knowledge and ‘Fruitful Concepts’: Fregean Themes in the Philosophy of Mathematics (appeared in Nous Dec 1995 Reprinted in Philosopher’s Annual 1996; to be reprinted in a collection on Frege edited by Erich Reck and Mike Beaney)

[PDF files – thanks to JSTOR]

 Frege on Axioms, Indirect Proof and Independence Arguments in Geometry: Did Frege Reject Independence Arguments? [The answer, contrary to widespread opinion, is: "No, he didn’t."]

Appeared in Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic - the file is an uncorrected galley proof


This one is an MS word file:

Negation, Denial and Language Change in Philosophical Logic

(Appeared in D. Gabbay and H. Wansing, (eds.) What is Negation? Kluwer 1999)



Family Pictures:

·         My son Peter and I snowshoeing across frozen Lake Nipissing

·          Peter at his grade 2 Halloween parade

·          Andrea in winter

·          Andrea in summer

·           Andrea in summer II

·          Peter and puppy

·          Andrea and Peter, shore of lake Nipissing in summer

·         Michele and I in our favorite environment

·         Michele and I in our second favorite – Lake Nipissing in winter

·         Michele and barracuda

·         Andrea, Peter and cousins Alex and Haley doing a snow dance – it worked!

My Parents' house from the ice on Lake Nipissing in winter

·         Peter playing soccer: postgamefocus 1focus 2 , flying , safe hands ,   postgame 2

·         Kids and cousins