Problems with the recent ontological debate in the philosophy of mathematics

Abstract

What is the role of mathematics in scientific explanations? Does it/can it play an explanatory part? This question is at the core of the recent ontological debate in the philosophy of mathematics. My aim in this paper is to argue that the two main approaches to this problem found in recent literature (i.e. the top-down and the bottom-up approaches) are both deeply problematic. This has an important implication for the dispute over the existence of mathematical entities: to make progress possible in this debate, we either have to find a different approach to the problem of the role of mathematics in scientific explanations (one that is not affected by the problems that, as I argue in this paper, plague the existing approaches), or we need to recast it in different terms.

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Gabriel Târziu
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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2022-11-16

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