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Abstract

Russell held that the theory of natural numbers could be derived from three primitive concepts: number, successor and zero. This leaves out multiplication and addition. Russell introduces these concepts by recursive definition. It is argued that this does not render addition or multiplication any less primitive than the other three. To this it might be replied that any recursive definition can be transformed into a complete or explicit definition with the help of a little set theory. But that is a point about set theory, not number theory. We have learned more about the distinction between logic and set theory than was known in Russell's day, especially as this affects logicist aspirations.

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