Does the existence of mathematical objects make a difference?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):246 – 264 (2003)
Abstract
In this paper I examine a strategy which aims to bypass the technicalities of the indispensability debate and to offer a direct route to nominalism. The starting-point for this alternative nominalist strategy is the claim that--according to the platonist picture--the existence of mathematical objects makes no difference to the concrete, physical world. My principal goal is to show that the 'Makes No Difference' (MND) Argument does not succeed in undermining platonism. The basic reason why not is that the makes-no-difference claim which the argument is based on is problematic. Arguments both for and against this claim can be found in the literature; I examine three such arguments, uncovering flaws in each one. In the second half of the paper, I take a more direct approach and present an analysis of the counterfactual which underpins the makes-no-difference claim. What this analysis reveals is that indispensability considerations are in fact crucial to the proper evaluation of the MND Argument, contrary to the claims of its supporters.
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Alan Baker (2009). Mathematical Explanation in Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):611-633.
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