In his *Set Theory. An Introduction to Indepencence Proofs*, Kunen develops $ZFC$ from a platonistic point of view because he believes that this is pedagogically easier. When he talks about the intended interpretation of set theory he says such things as, for example, that the domain of discourse $V$ is the collection of all (well-founded, when foundation is introduced) hereditary sets.

This point of view has always made me feel a bit uncomfortable. How can a variable in a first-order language run over the elements of a collection that is not a set? Only recently I realized that one thing is to be a platonist, and another thing is to believe such an odd thing.

A first-order theory of sets with a countable language can only prove the existence of countably many sets. Let me call them provable sets for short. Platonistically, we wish our intended interpretation of that theory to be one in which every provable set is actually the set the theory says it is. So we don't need our interpretation to contain every set, we just need that it contains at least the true provable sets. This collection is, really, a set, although it doesn't know it.

To be a bit more concrete, if one is a platonist and the cumulative hierarchy is what one has in mind as the real universe of sets, one can think that the $V$ of one's theory actually refers to a an initial segment of that hierarchy, hence variables run no more over the real $V$ but only over the elements of some $V_\alpha$.

There's a parallel to these ideas. For example, when we want to prove consistency with $ZFC$ of a given sentence, we do not directly look for a model of $ZFC$ where that sentence is true, but instead we take advantage of knowing that every finite fragment of $ZFC$ is consistent and that every proof involves only finitely many axioms.

My question is: then, is this position tenable or am I going awfully wrong? I apologize that this seems a philosophical issue rather than a mathematical one. I also apologize for stating things so simply (out of laziness).