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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Mark Wilson’s book Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior is considered in this chapter. Wilson argues that common views on mathematical and scientific concepts distort our understanding of scientific knowledge and representation. Pincock substantially agrees with Wilson and describes how the positions from earlier chapters can be adapted to fit with Wilson’s worries. At the heart of Wilson’s worries is a view of representations as made up of a collection of locally effective patches. Pincock explains how mathematics generates these patches and helps to link them together. The example of the development of the concept of Riemann surfaces is used to further clarify this picture of scientific representation and to vindicate a form of patient scientific realism.

Keywords: concepts; semantic internalism and externalism; Riemann surface; historical development

Chapter.  8152 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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