for the learning of mathematics

an international journal of mathematics education

Paul Ernest - Vol. 41 Num. 3 (2021)
 A dialogue on the deep ethics of mathematics


What is disputed is the question of whether arithmetic is already present in the world or whether we humans impose it. If arithmetic is a human fabrication then we are responsible for how it affects us and our perceptions of the world, and our actions on the world. In this case we have a deep ethical responsibility for the effects of mathematics on the world and on ourselves. If arithmetic is objective, superhuman and already present in the world, then we only have ethical responsibility for how we apply it. Both sides of this dilemma are represented in the debate.