Quine, Putnam, and the ‘Quine–Putnam’ Indispensability Argument

Erkenntnis 68 (1):113 - 127 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Much recent discussion in the philosophy of mathematics has concerned the indispensability argument—an argument which aims to establish the existence of abstract mathematical objects through appealing to the role that mathematics plays in empirical science. The indispensability argument is standardly attributed to W. V. Quine and Hilary Putnam. In this paper, I show that this attribution is mistaken. Quine's argument for the existence of abstract mathematical objects differs from the argument which many philosophers of mathematics ascribe to him. Contrary to appearances, Putnam did not argue for the existence of abstract mathematical objects at all. I close by suggesting that attention to Quine and Putnam's writings reveals some neglected arguments for platonism which may be superior to the indispensability argument.

Author's Profile

David Liggins
University of Manchester

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
1,120 (#5,715)

6 months
57 (#21,791)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?