Chapter

Field's Fictionalism

Mark Colyvan

in The Indispensability of Mathematics

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137545
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833139 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019513754X.003.0004
                   Field's Fictionalism

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Hartry Field has attacked the indispensability argument by arguing that mathematics is in fact dispensable to science. He does this by showing a way to dispense with quantification over mathematical entities in Newtonian gravitation theory. He, thus, advances a kind of fictionalism about mathematics. In this chapter, Field's program is outlined and the prospects for its success are evaluated. An important part of the task of assessing what is required of Field's program involves understanding how we should read the crucial term “indispensable” in Quine's argument.

Keywords: fictionalism; Hartry Field; gravitation theory; indispensability argument; Newton; Quine

Chapter.  10352 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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