Mathematical Knowledge and Naturalism

Philosophia 47 (1):225-247 (2019)
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How should one conceive of the method of mathematics, if one takes a naturalist stance? Mathematical knowledge is regarded as the paradigm of certain knowledge, since mathematics is based on the axiomatic method. Natural science is deeply mathematized, and science is crucial for any naturalist perspective. But mathematics seems to provide a counterexample both to methodological and ontological naturalism. To face this problem, some naturalists try to naturalize mathematics relying on Darwinism. But several difficulties arise when one tries to naturalize in this way the traditional view of mathematics, according to which mathematical knowledge is certain and the method of mathematics is the axiomatic method. This paper suggests that, in order to naturalize mathematics through Darwinism, it is better to take the method of mathematics not to be the axiomatic method.

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Fabio Sterpetti
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza


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