Christopher Pincock

in Mathematics and Scientific Representation

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199757107
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932313 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science


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This chapter explores the more recent attempts to rescue the indispensability argument for platonism by appeal to the explanatory contributions which mathematics makes in science. Pincock argues that the different epistemic contributions which were articulated in part one help to clarify some of the different ways in which mathematics can help with scientific explanations. At the same time, Pincock argues that there are systematic barriers to using inference to the best explanation to support the truth of any substantial mathematical claims. These problems relate to the intricate structures encountered in pure mathematics and our lack of evidence that anything like this is instantiated in the physical world.

Keywords: mathematical explanation; inference to the best explanation; indispensability argument

Chapter.  9325 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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