Mathematical explanation and epistemology: Please mind the gap

Journal article


Baron, Sam. (2016) Mathematical explanation and epistemology: Please mind the gap. Ratio. 29(2), pp. 149 - 167. https://doi.org/10.1111/rati.12101
AuthorsBaron, Sam
Abstract

This paper draws together two strands in the debate over the existence of mathematical objects. The first strand concerns the notion of extra‐mathematical explanation: the explanation of physical facts, in part, by facts about mathematical objects. The second strand concerns the access problem for platonism: the problem of how to account for knowledge of mathematical objects. I argue for the following conditional: if there are extra‐mathematical explanations, then the core thesis of the access problem is false. This has implications for nominalists and platonists alike. Platonists can make a case for epistemic access to mathematical objects by providing evidence in favour of the existence of extra‐mathematical explanations. Nominalists, by contrast, can use the access problem to cast doubt on the idea that mathematical objects play a substantive role in scientific explanation.

Year2016
JournalRatio
Journal citation29 (2), pp. 149 - 167
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN0034-0006
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/rati.12101
Scopus EID2-s2.0-84964961675
Page range149 - 167
Research GroupDianoia Institute of Philosophy
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8qv16/mathematical-explanation-and-epistemology-please-mind-the-gap

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