A Role for Mathematics in the Physical Sciences

Noûs 41 (2):253-275 (2007)
Abstract
Conflicting accounts of the role of mathematics in our physical theories can be traced to two principles. Mathematics appears to be both (1) theoretically indispensable, as we have no acceptable non-mathematical versions of our theories, and (2) metaphysically dispensable, as mathematical entities, if they existed, would lack a relevant causal role in the physical world. I offer a new account of a role for mathematics in the physical sciences that emphasizes the epistemic benefits of having mathematics around when we do science. This account successfully reconciles theoretical indispensability and metaphysical dispensability and has important consequences for both advocates and critics of indispensability arguments for platonism about mathematics
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    A. Baker (2003). Does the Existence of Mathematical Objects Make a Difference? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):246 – 264.

    View all 29 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Robert Batterman (2010). On the Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Empirical Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):1-25.
    Juha Saatsi (2012). Mathematics and Program Explanations. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):579-584.
    Patrick Forber (2012). Conjecture and Explanation: A Reply to Reydon. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):298-301.

    View all 7 citations

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    41 ( #34,906 of 1,089,127 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    5 ( #20,087 of 1,089,127 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.