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  1. Who's Afraid of Mathematical Diagrams?Silvia De Toffoli - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    Mathematical diagrams are frequently used in contemporary mathematics. They are, however, widely seen as not contributing to the justificatory force of proofs: they are considered to be either mere illustrations or shorthand for non-diagrammatic expressions. Moreover, when they are used inferentially, they are seen as threatening the reliability of proofs. In this paper, I examine certain examples of diagrams that resist this type of dismissive characterization. By presenting two diagrammatic proofs, one from topology and one from algebra, I show that (...)
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  • Introduction to Special Issue: Aesthetics in Mathematics†.Angela Breitenbach & Davide Rizza - 2018 - Philosophia Mathematica 26 (2):153-160.
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  • Philosophy of Mathematical Practice: A Primer for Mathematics Educators.Yacin Hamami & Rebecca Morris - forthcoming - ZDM Mathematics Education.
    In recent years, philosophical work directly concerned with the practice of mathematics has intensified, giving rise to a movement known as the philosophy of mathematical practice . In this paper we offer a survey of this movement aimed at mathematics educators. We first describe the core questions philosophers of mathematical practice investigate as well as the philosophical methods they use to tackle them. We then provide a selective overview of work in the philosophy of mathematical practice covering topics including the (...)
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  • Envisioning Transformations – The Practice of Topology.Silvia De Toffoli & Valeria Giardino - 2016 - In Brendan Larvor (ed.), Mathematical Cultures: The London Meetings 2012--2014. Zurich, Switzerland: Birkhäuser. pp. 25-50.
    The objective of this article is twofold. First, a methodological issue is addressed. It is pointed out that even if philosophers of mathematics have been recently more and more concerned with the practice of mathematics, there is still a need for a sharp definition of what the targets of a philosophy of mathematical practice should be. Three possible objects of inquiry are put forward: (1) the collective dimension of the practice of mathematics; (2) the cognitives capacities requested to the practitioners; (...)
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  • From Euclidean Geometry to Knots and Nets.Brendan Larvor - 2017 - Synthese:1-22.
    This paper assumes the success of arguments against the view that informal mathematical proofs secure rational conviction in virtue of their relations with corresponding formal derivations. This assumption entails a need for an alternative account of the logic of informal mathematical proofs. Following examination of case studies by Manders, De Toffoli and Giardino, Leitgeb, Feferman and others, this paper proposes a framework for analysing those informal proofs that appeal to the perception or modification of diagrams or to the inspection or (...)
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  • Reconciling Rigor and Intuition.Silvia De Toffoli - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1783-1802.
    Criteria of acceptability for mathematical proofs are field-dependent. In topology, though not in most other domains, it is sometimes acceptable to appeal to visual intuition to support inferential steps. In previous work :829–842, 2014; Lolli, Panza, Venturi From logic to practice, Springer, Berlin, 2015; Larvor Mathematical cultures, Springer, Berlin, 2016) my co-author and I aimed at spelling out how topological proofs work on their own terms, without appealing to formal proofs which might be associated with them. In this article, I (...)
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  • What Are Mathematical Diagrams?Silvia De Toffoli - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Although traditionally neglected, mathematical diagrams have recently begun to attract attention from philosophers of mathematics. By now, the literature includes several case studies investigating the role of diagrams both in discovery and justification. Certain preliminary questions have, however, been mostly bypassed. What are diagrams exactly? Are there different types of diagrams? In the scholarly literature, the term “mathematical diagram” is used in diverse ways. I propose a working definition that carves out the phenomena that are of most importance for a (...)
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  • Mathematical Explanation in Practice.Ellen Lehet - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (5):553-574.
    The connection between understanding and explanation has recently been of interest to philosophers. Inglis and Mejía-Ramos (Synthese, 2019) propose that within mathematics, we should accept a functional account of explanation that characterizes explanations as those things that produce understanding. In this paper, I start with the assumption that this view of mathematical explanation is correct and consider what we can consequently learn about mathematical explanation. I argue that this view of explanation suggests that we should shift the question of explanation (...)
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  • Mathematical Cognition and Enculturation: Introduction to the Synthese Special Issue.Markus Pantsar - 2020 - Synthese 197 (9):3647-3655.
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  • Audience Role in Mathematical Proof Development.Zoe Ashton - 2020 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 26):6251-6275.
    The role of audiences in mathematical proof has largely been neglected, in part due to misconceptions like those in Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca which bar mathematical proofs from bearing reflections of audience consideration. In this paper, I argue that mathematical proof is typically argumentation and that a mathematician develops a proof with his universal audience in mind. In so doing, he creates a proof which reflects the standards of reasonableness embodied in his universal audience. Given this framework, we can better understand (...)
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  • The Material Reasoning of Folding Paper.Michael Friedman & Colin Jakob Rittberg - 2021 - Synthese 198 (S26):6333-6367.
    This paper inquires the ways in which paper folding constitutes a mathematical practice and may prompt a mathematical culture. To do this, we first present and investigate the common mathematical activities shared by this culture, i.e. we present mathematical paper folding as a material reasoning practice. We show that the patterns of mathematical activity observed in mathematical paper folding are, at least since the end of the nineteenth century, sufficiently stable to be considered as a practice. Moreover, we will argue (...)
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  • Certain Modern Ideas and Methods: “Geometric Reality” in the Mathematics of Charlotte Angas Scott.Jemma Lorenat - 2020 - Review of Symbolic Logic 13 (4):681-719.
    Charlotte Angas Scott was an internationally renowned geometer, the first British woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics, and the chair of the Bryn Mawr mathematics department for forty years. There she helped shape the burgeoning mathematics community in the United States. Scott often motivated her research as providing a “geometric treatment” of results that had previously been derived algebraically. The adjective “geometric” likely entailed many things for Scott, from her careful illustration of diagrams to her choice of references and (...)
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  • An Inquiry Into the Practice of Proving in Low-Dimensional Topology.Silvia De Toffoli & Valeria Giardino - 2015 - In Gabriele Lolli, Giorgio Venturi & Marco Panza (eds.), From Logic to Practice. Zurich, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. pp. 315-336.
    The aim of this article is to investigate specific aspects connected with visualization in the practice of a mathematical subfield: low-dimensional topology. Through a case study, it will be established that visualization can play an epistemic role. The background assumption is that the consideration of the actual practice of mathematics is relevant to address epistemological issues. It will be shown that in low-dimensional topology, justifications can be based on sequences of pictures. Three theses will be defended. First, the representations used (...)
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  • Reliability of Mathematical Inference.Jeremy Avigad - 2020 - Synthese 198 (8):7377-7399.
    Of all the demands that mathematics imposes on its practitioners, one of the most fundamental is that proofs ought to be correct. It has been common since the turn of the twentieth century to take correctness to be underwritten by the existence of formal derivations in a suitable axiomatic foundation, but then it is hard to see how this normative standard can be met, given the differences between informal proofs and formal derivations, and given the inherent fragility and complexity of (...)
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  • ‘Chasing’ the Diagram—the Use of Visualizations in Algebraic Reasoning.Silvia de Toffoli - 2017 - Review of Symbolic Logic 10 (1):158-186.
    The aim of this article is to investigate the roles of commutative diagrams (CDs) in a specific mathematical domain, and to unveil the reasons underlying their effectiveness as a mathematical notation; this will be done through a case study. It will be shown that CDs do not depict spatial relations, but represent mathematical structures. CDs will be interpreted as a hybrid notation that goes beyond the traditional bipartition of mathematical representations into diagrammatic and linguistic. It will be argued that one (...)
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  • How to Notate a Crossing of Strings? On Modesto Dedò’s Notation of Braids.Michael Friedman - 2020 - Archive for History of Exact Sciences 74 (4):281-312.
    As is well known, it was only in 1926 that a comprehensive mathematical theory of braids was published—that of Emil Artin. That said, braids had been researched mathematically before Artin’s treatment: Alexandre Theophile Vandermonde, Carl Friedrich Gauß and Peter Guthrie Tait had all attempted to introduce notations for braids. Nevertheless, it was only Artin’s approach that proved to be successful. Though the historical reasons for the success of Artin’s approach are known, a question arises as to whether other approaches to (...)
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  • Material Representations in Mathematical Research Practice.Mikkel W. Johansen & Morten Misfeldt - 2020 - Synthese 197 (9):3721-3741.
    Mathematicians’ use of external representations, such as symbols and diagrams, constitutes an important focal point in current philosophical attempts to understand mathematical practice. In this paper, we add to this understanding by presenting and analyzing how research mathematicians use and interact with external representations. The empirical basis of the article consists of a qualitative interview study we conducted with active research mathematicians. In our analysis of the empirical material, we primarily used the empirically based frameworks provided by distributed cognition and (...)
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  • Drawing on the Imagination: The Limits of Illustrated Figures in Nineteenth-Century Geometry.Jemma Lorenat - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 82:75-87.
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  • Diagrams.Sun-Joo Shin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Non-Deductive Methods in Mathematics.Alan Baker - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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