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ResearchBernoulli InstituteCalendarColloquia - Mathematics

Colloquium Mathematics, Professor Catarina Dutilh Novaes (RUG)

29 September 2015

Join us for coffee and tea at 15.30 p.m.


Tuesday, September 29th 2015


Prof. Catarina Dutilh Novaes (RUG)


5161.0293 (Bernoulliborg)



Title: 'Reductio Proofs From A Dialogical Perspective'


It is well known that reductio proofs pose interesting philosophical questions. What does it mean to assert something with the precise goal of then showing it to be false, i.e. because it leads to absurd conclusions? What kind of speech act is that? Moreover, the mathematics education literature has numerous studies showing how hard it is for students to truly comprehend the idea of reductio proofs, which indicates the cognitive complexity of these constructions. In my talk, I take as a starting point a dialogical conceptualization of deductive proofs, according to which a deductive proof is best understood as a dialogue between two (fictitious) participants --- Prover and Skeptic. I argue that many of the philosophical and cognitive difficulties surrounding reductio proofs are dispelled once one adopts a dialogical perspective.

Colloquium coordinators are Prof.dr. A.C.D. van Enter (e-mail : and
Dr. A.V. Kiselev (e-mail: )

Last modified:06 June 2018 2.04 p.m.

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