Naturalism and Abstract Entities

I argue that the most popular versions of naturalism imply nominalism in philosophy of mathematics. In particular, there is a conflict in Quine's philosophy between naturalism and realism in mathematics. The argument starts from a consequence of naturalism on the nature of human cognitive subjects, physicalism about cognitive subjects, and concludes that this implies a version of nominalism, which I will carefully characterize. The indispensability of classical mathematics for the sciences and semantic/confirmation holism does not affect the argument. The disquotational theory of reference and truth is discussed but rejected. This argument differs from the Benacerrafian arguments against realism, because it does not rely on any specific assumption about the nature of knowledge or reference. It differs from the popular objections to the indispensability argument for realism as well, because it can admit both indispensability and holism. This argument motivates a new, radically naturalistic and nominalistic approach to philosophy of mathematics
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DOI 10.1080/02698595.2010.484539
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W. V. Quine (1992). Pursuit of Truth. Harvard University Press.

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