Talk: Maximality and Countability (or `Some systems of set theory on which every set is countable’)

Handout here. This will be a talk at the New York Set Theory Seminar.

Abstract: It is standard in set theory to assume that Cantor’s Theorem establishes that the continuum is an uncountable set. A challenge for this position comes from the observation that through forcing one can collapse any cardinal to the countable and that the continuum can be made arbitrarily large. In this paper, we present a different take on the relationship between Cantor’s Theorem and extensions of universes, arguing that they can be seen as showing that every set is countable and that the continuum is a proper class. We examine several theories based on maximality considerations in this framework (in particular countabilist analogues of reflection principles) and show how standard set theories (including ZFC with large cardinals added) can be incorporated. We conclude that the systems considered raise questions concerning the foundational purposes of set theory.

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