Confirmation and the indispensability of mathematics to science

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):263 (1996)
Quine and Putnam argued for mathematical realism on the basis of the indispensability of mathematics to science. They claimed that the mathematics that is used in physical theories is confirmed along with those theories and that scientific realism entails mathematical realism. I argue here that current theories of confirmation suggest that mathematics does not receive empirical support simply in virtue of being a part of well confirmed scientific theories and that the reasons for adopting a realist view of scientific theories do not support realism about mathematical entities, despite the use of mathematics in formulating scientific theory.
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DOI 10.1086/289959
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