Are mathematical explanations causal explanations in disguise?

Philosophy of Science (NA):1-19 (2024)
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Abstract

There is a major debate as to whether there are non-causal mathematical explanations of physical facts that show how the facts under question arise from a degree of mathematical necessity considered stronger than that of contingent causal laws. We focus on Marc Lange’s account of distinctively mathematical explanations to argue that purported mathematical explanations are essentially causal explanations in disguise and are no different from ordinary applications of mathematics. This is because these explanations work not by appealing to what the world must be like as a matter of mathematical necessity but by appealing to various contingent causal facts.

Author Profiles

Aditya Jha
Cambridge University
Douglas Ian Campbell
University of Canterbury

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