About this topic

Mathematical explanations are explanations in which mathematics plays a fundamental role. The expression ‘mathematical explanation’ (ME) has two distinct, although connected, meanings: in relation to pure mathematics ME denotes proofs that are able not only to demonstrate the truth of a given mathematical statement, but also to explain why the statement is true, whereas in connection with empirical sciences ME refers to explanations of non-mathematical facts (physical, biological, social, psychological) justified by recourse to mathematics. 

Although the concept of ME has been the subject of analysis at least since Aristotle’s distinction between apodeixis tou oti and apodeixis tou dioti (Post. An. I.13), and has been dealt with a few times over the course of the development of Western thought (e.g. Descartes, Newton, and Bolzano), it is only since the 1970s that an intense philosophical debate has sprung up regarding the nature of ME. This debate, linked to the gradual diffusion of Quinean epistemology (Steiner 1978) and the development of the anti-foundationalist philosophy of mathematics (the so-called ‘maverick’ tradition, Cellucci 2008), centers on the following questions: Do mathematical explanations exist? If mathematical explanations exist, can they be reduced to a single model or are they heterogeneous among themselves? What implications does the comprehension of the concept of mathematical explanation have for some of the most important problems of the contemporary philosophy of science (e.g. indispensability arguments, inference to the best explanation, and the theory of scientific explanation)? 

Key works

The key works about mathematical explanation within mathematics are Steiner 1978 (for criticisms of the model proposed by Steiner see Resnik & Kushner 1987, Weber & Verhoeven 2002, and Mancosu & JØrgensen 2006), Kitcher 1983, and Kitcher 1989 (a careful analysis of the limitations of the model proposed by Kitcher can be found in Mancosu & Hafner 2008). Regarding the notion of mathematical explanation in natural sciences, see Batterman 2001, Baker 2005, Pincock 2007, and Baker 2009.

Introductions For  general overviews on the subject, see Mancosu 2011Pincock & Mancosu 2012, and Molinini 2014.
Related categories

101 found
1 — 50 / 101
  1. added 2018-11-15
    The Applicability of Mathematics to Physical Modality.Nora Berenstain - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3361-3377.
    This paper argues that scientific realism commits us to a metaphysical determination relation between the mathematical entities that are indispensible to scientific explanation and the modal structure of the empirical phenomena those entities explain. The argument presupposes that scientific realism commits us to the indispensability argument. The viewpresented here is that the indispensability of mathematics commits us not only to the existence of mathematical structures and entities but to a metaphysical determination relation between those entities and the modal structure of (...)
  2. added 2018-08-31
    Mathematical Explanations and the Piecemeal Approach to Thinking About Explanation.Gabriel Târziu - forthcoming - Logique Et Analyse.
    A new trend in the philosophical literature on scientific explanation is that of starting from a case that has been somehow identified as an explanation and then proceed to bringing to light its characteristic features and to constructing an account for the type of explanation it exemplifies. A type of this approach to thinking about explanation – the piecemeal approach, as I will call it – is used, among others, by Lange (2013) and Pincock (2015) in the context of their (...)
  3. added 2018-08-31
    Importance and Explanatory Relevance: The Case of Mathematical Explanations.Gabriel Târziu - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (3):393-412.
    A way to argue that something plays an explanatory role in science is by linking explanatory relevance with importance in the context of an explanation. The idea is deceptively simple: a part of an explanation is an explanatorily relevant part of that explanation if removing it affects the explanation either by destroying it or by diminishing its explanatory power, i.e. an important part is an explanatorily relevant part. This can be very useful in many ontological debates. My aim in this (...)
  4. added 2018-04-30
    Tuples All the Way Down?Simon Thomas Hewitt - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):161-169.
  5. added 2018-03-13
    Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations.Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    Explanations are very important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is long-standing, influential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, philosophers (...)
  6. added 2018-03-01
    Problemas para a Explicação Matemática.Eduardo Castro - 2017 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 73 (3-4):1437-1462.
    Mathematical proofs aim to establish the truth of mathematical propositions by means of logical rules. Some recent literature in philosophy of mathematics alleges that some mathematical proofs also reveal why the proved mathematical propositions are true. These mathematical proofs are called explanatory mathematical proofs. In this paper, I present and discuss some salient problems around mathematical explanation: the existence problem, the normative problem, the explanandum problems of truth value and psychological value, the logical structure problem, the regress problem and the (...)
  7. added 2018-02-25
    Symmetries and Explanatory Dependencies in Physics.Steven French & Juha Saatsi - 2018 - In Alexander Reutlinger & Juha Saatsi (eds.), Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 185-205.
    Many important explanations in physics are based on ideas and assumptions about symmetries, but little has been said about the nature of such explanations. This chapter aims to fill this lacuna, arguing that various symmetry explanations can be naturally captured in the spirit of the counterfactual-dependence account of Woodward, liberalized from its causal trappings. From the perspective of this account symmetries explain by providing modal information about an explanatory dependence, by showing how the explanandum would have been different, had the (...)
  8. added 2018-02-23
    Explanation Beyond Causation: Philosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations.Reutlinger Alexander & Juha Saatsi (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    Explanations are important to us in many contexts: in science, mathematics, philosophy, and also in everyday and juridical contexts. But what is an explanation? In the philosophical study of explanation, there is a long-standing, in uential tradition that links explanation intimately to causation: we often explain by providing accurate information about the causes of the phenomenon to be explained. Such causal accounts have been the received view of the nature of explanation, particularly in philosophy of science, since the 1980s. However, (...)
  9. added 2018-02-23
    On Explanations From 'Geometry of Motion'.Juha Saatsi - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):253–273.
    This paper examines explanations that turn on non-local geometrical facts about the space of possible configurations a system can occupy. I argue that it makes sense to contrast such explanations from ‘geometry of motion’ with causal explanations. I also explore how my analysis of these explanations cuts across the distinction between kinematics and dynamics.
  10. added 2018-02-17
    Mathematical Explanations of the Rainbow.Christopher Pincock - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (1):13-22.
    Explanations of three different aspects of the rainbow are considered. The highly mathematical character of these explanations poses some interpretative questions concerning what the success of these explanations tells us about rainbows. I develop a proposal according to which mathematical explanations can highlight what is relevant about a given phenomenon while also indicating what is irrelevant to that phenomenon. This proposal is related to the extensive work by Batterman on asymptotic explanation with special reference to Batterman’s own discussion of the (...)
  11. added 2017-12-31
    Review of Marc Lange, Because Without Cause: Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics. [REVIEW]Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    Lange’s collection of expanded, mostly previously published essays, packed with numerous, beautiful examples of putatively non-causal explanations from biology, physics, and mathematics, challenges the increasingly ossified causal consensus about scientific explanation, and, in so doing, launches a new field of philosophic investigation. However, those who embraced causal monism about explanation have done so because appeal to causal factors sorts good from bad scientific explanations and because the explanatory force of good explanations seems to derive from revealing the relevant causal (or (...)
  12. added 2017-12-31
    The Directionality of Distinctively Mathematical Explanations.Carl F. Craver & Mark Povich - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 63:31-38.
    In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. This inadequacy is remediable in each (...)
  13. added 2017-10-21
    Explanation of Molecular Processes Without Tracking Mechanism Operation.Ingo Brigandt - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):984–997.
    Philosophical discussions of systems biology have enriched the notion of mechanistic explanation by pointing to the role of mathematical modeling. However, such accounts still focus on explanation in terms of tracking a mechanism's operation across time (by means of mental or computational simulation). My contention is that there are explanations of molecular systems where the explanatory understanding does not consist in tracking a mechanism's operation and productive continuity. I make this case by a discussion of bifurcation analysis in dynamical systems, (...)
  14. added 2017-10-16
    Taking Reductionism to the Limit: How to Rebut the Antireductionist Argument From Infinite Limits.Juha Saatsi & Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Philosophy of Science (3):455-482.
    This paper analyses the anti-reductionist argument from renormalisation group explanations of universality, and shows how it can be rebutted if one assumes that the explanation in question is captured by the counterfactual dependence account of explanation.
  15. added 2017-10-06
    Inertia, the Communication of Motion, and Kant's Third Law of Mechanics.Howard Duncan - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (1):93-119.
    In Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science are found a dynamist reduction of matter and an account of the communication of motion by impact. One would expect to find an analysis of the causal mechanism involved in the communication of motion between bodies given in terms of the fundamental dynamical nature of bodies. However, Kant's analysis, as given in the discussion of his third law of mechanics (an action-reaction law) is purely kinematical, invoking no causal mechanisms at all, let alone (...)
  16. added 2017-09-18
    Non-Causal Understanding with Economic Models: The Case of General Equilibrium.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2017 - Journal of Economic Methodology 24 (3):297-317.
    How can we use models to understand real phenomena if models misrepresent the very phenomena we seek to understand? Some accounts suggest that models may afford understanding by providing causal knowledge about phenomena via how-possibly explanations. However, general equilibrium models, for example, pose a challenge to this solution since their contribution appears to be purely mathematical results. Despite this, practitioners widely acknowledge that it improves our understanding of the world. I argue that the Arrow–Debreu model provides a mathematical how-possibly explanation (...)
  17. added 2017-07-19
    Was Regression to the Mean Really the Solution to Darwin’s Problem with Heredity? [REVIEW]Adam Krashniak & Ehud Lamm - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy (5):1-10.
    Statistical reasoning is an integral part of modern scientific practice. In The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom Stephen Stigler presents seven core ideas, or pillars, of statistical thinking and the historical developments of each of these pillars, many of which were concurrent with developments in biology. Here we focus on Stigler’s fifth pillar, regression, and his discussion of how regression to the mean came to be thought of as a solution to a challenge for the theory of natural selection. Stigler (...)
  18. added 2017-05-21
    Arithmetic, Set Theory, Reduction and Explanation.William D'Alessandro - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):5059-5089.
    Philosophers of science since Nagel have been interested in the links between intertheoretic reduction and explanation, understanding and other forms of epistemic progress. Although intertheoretic reduction is widely agreed to occur in pure mathematics as well as empirical science, the relationship between reduction and explanation in the mathematical setting has rarely been investigated in a similarly serious way. This paper examines an important particular case: the reduction of arithmetic to set theory. I claim that the reduction is unexplanatory. In defense (...)
  19. added 2017-01-20
    The Varieties of Mathematical Explanation.Hafner Johannes & Paolo Mancosu - 2005 - In Paolo Mancosu (ed.), Visualization, Explanation and Reasoning Styles in Mathematics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 215-250.
  20. added 2016-12-08
    Mathematics and Scientific Representation.Christopher Pincock - 2012 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Mathematics plays a central role in much of contemporary science, but philosophers have struggled to understand what this role is or how significant it might be for mathematics and science. In this book Christopher Pincock tackles this perennial question in a new way by asking how mathematics contributes to the success of our best scientific representations. In the first part of the book this question is posed and sharpened using a proposal for how we can determine the content of a (...)
  21. added 2016-10-25
    Explanation Beyond Causation? New Directions in the Philosophy of Scientific Explanation.Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (2):e12395.
    In this paper, I aim to provide access to the current debate on non-causal explanations in philosophy of science. I will first present examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences. Then, I will outline three alternative approaches to non-causal explanations – that is, causal reductionism, pluralism, and monism – and, corresponding to these three approaches, different strategies for distinguishing between causal and non-causal explanation. Finally, I will raise questions for future research on non-causal explanations.
  22. added 2016-09-21
    Abstract Versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...)
  23. added 2016-09-05
    Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx016.
    A number of philosophers have recently suggested that some abstract, plausibly non-causal and/or mathematical, explanations explain in a way that is radically dif- ferent from the way causal explanation explain. Namely, while causal explanations explain by providing information about causal dependence, allegedly some abstract explanations explain in a way tied to the independence of the explanandum from the microdetails, or causal laws, for example. We oppose this recent trend to regard abstractions as explanatory in some sui generis way, and argue (...)
  24. added 2016-07-20
    Does the Counterfactual Theory of Explanation Apply to Non-Causal Explanations in Metaphysics?Alexander Reutlinger - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-18.
    In the recent philosophy of explanation, a growing attention to and discussion of non-causal explanations has emerged, as there seem to be compelling examples of non-causal explanations in the sciences, in pure mathematics, and in metaphysics. I defend the claim that the counterfactual theory of explanation (CTE) captures the explanatory character of both non-causal scientific and metaphysical explanations. According to the CTE, scientific and metaphysical explanations are explanatory by virtue of revealing counterfactual dependencies between the explanandum and the explanans. I (...)
  25. added 2015-11-21
    Complements, Not Competitors: Causal and Mathematical Explanations.Holly Andersen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw023.
    A finer-grained delineation of a given explanandum reveals a nexus of closely related causal and non- causal explanations, complementing one another in ways that yield further explanatory traction on the phenomenon in question. By taking a narrower construal of what counts as a causal explanation, a new class of distinctively mathematical explanations pops into focus; Lange’s characterization of distinctively mathematical explanations can be extended to cover these. This new class of distinctively mathematical explanations is illustrated with the Lotka-Volterra equations. There (...)
  26. added 2015-11-18
    Review of Daniele Molinini, Che cos'è una spiegazione matematica. [REVIEW]Gianluca Longa - 2016 - Lo Sguardo. Rivista di Filosofia 20:325-327.
  27. added 2015-10-29
    Unification and Explanation: A Case Study From Real Algebraic Geometry.Paolo Mancosu & Johannes Hafner - 2008 - In The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 151--178.
  28. added 2015-10-26
    Mathematical Representation: Playing a Role.Kate Hodesdon - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (3):769-782.
    The primary justification for mathematical structuralism is its capacity to explain two observations about mathematical objects, typically natural numbers. Non-eliminative structuralism attributes these features to the particular ontology of mathematics. I argue that attributing the features to an ontology of structural objects conflicts with claims often made by structuralists to the effect that their structuralist theses are versions of Quine’s ontological relativity or Putnam’s internal realism. I describe and argue for an alternative explanation for these features which instead explains the (...)
  29. added 2015-10-22
    Che Cos'è una Spiegazione Matematica.Daniele Molinini - 2014 - Carocci.
    Può la matematica spiegare il mondo che ci circonda, o addirittura sé stessa? Possono i numeri, e più in generale le teorie matematiche, dirci perché alcuni fenomeni naturali e sociali avvengono o perché alcuni risultati matematici siano da considerarsi veri? Che cosa si intende esattamente per spiegazione matematica? Attraverso numerosi esempi, l’autore offre una risposta a queste domande e illustra le principali posizioni filosofiche elaborate per la nozione di spiegazione matematica, nozione che è alla base di dibattiti riguardanti aree diverse (...)
  30. added 2015-10-21
    Time Enough for Explanation.Sam Baron & Mark Colyvan - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (2):61-88.
    The present paper advances an analogy between cases of extra-mathematical explanation and cases of what might be termed ‘extra-logical explanation’: the explanation of a physical fact by a logical fact. A particular case of extra-logical explanation is identified that arises in the philosophical literature on time travel. This instance of extra-logical explanation is subsequently shown to be of a piece with cases of extra-mathematical explanation. Using this analogy, we argue extra-mathematical explanation is part of a broader class of non-causal explanation. (...)
  31. added 2015-10-21
    Comments on “Parsimony and Inference to the Best Mathematical Explanation”.Fabrice Pataut - 2016 - Synthese 193 (2):351-363.
    The author of “Parsimony and inference to the best mathematical explanation” argues for platonism by way of an enhanced indispensability argument based on an inference to yet better mathematical optimization explanations in the natural sciences. Since such explanations yield beneficial trade-offs between stronger mathematical existential claims and fewer concrete ontological commitments than those involved in merely good mathematical explanations, one must countenance the mathematical objects that play a theoretical role in them via an application of the relevant mathematical results. The (...)
  32. added 2015-10-21
    Mathematical Explanation and Epistemology: Please Mind the Gap.Sam Baron - 2016 - Ratio 29 (2):149-167.
    This paper draws together two strands in the debate over the existence of mathematical objects. The first strand concerns the notion of extra-mathematical explanation: the explanation of physical facts, in part, by facts about mathematical objects. The second strand concerns the access problem for platonism: the problem of how to account for knowledge of mathematical objects. I argue for the following conditional: if there are extra-mathematical explanations, then the core thesis of the access problem is false. This has implications for (...)
  33. added 2015-10-21
    Should Scientific Realists Be Platonists?Jacob Busch & Joe Morrison - 2016 - Synthese 193 (2):435-449.
    Enhanced indispensability arguments claim that Scientific Realists are committed to the existence of mathematical entities due to their reliance on Inference to the best explanation. Our central question concerns this purported parity of reasoning: do people who defend the EIA make an appropriate use of the resources of Scientific Realism to achieve platonism? We argue that just because a variety of different inferential strategies can be employed by Scientific Realists does not mean that ontological conclusions concerning which things we should (...)
  34. added 2015-10-21
    The Unsolvability of The Quintic: A Case Study in Abstract Mathematical Explanation.Christopher Pincock - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    This paper identifies one way that a mathematical proof can be more explanatory than another proof. This is by invoking a more abstract kind of entity than the topic of the theorem. These abstract mathematical explanations are identified via an investigation of a canonical instance of modern mathematics: the Galois theory proof that there is no general solution in radicals for fifth-degree polynomial equations. I claim that abstract explanations are best seen as describing a special sort of dependence relation between (...)
  35. added 2015-10-21
    Indispensability and Explanation.Sorin Bangu - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):255-277.
    The question as to whether there are mathematical explanations of physical phenomena has recently received a great deal of attention in the literature. The answer is potentially relevant for the ontology of mathematics; if affirmative, it would support a new version of the indispensability argument for mathematical realism. In this article, I first review critically a few examples of such explanations and advance a general analysis of the desiderata to be satisfied by them. Second, in an attempt to strengthen the (...)
  36. added 2015-10-21
    Mathemetical Explanation.Christopher Pincock & Paolo Mancosu - 2012 - Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
  37. added 2015-10-21
    Inference to the Best Explanation and Mathematical Realism.Sorin Bangu - 2008 - Synthese 160 (1):13-20.
    Arguing for mathematical realism on the basis of Field’s explanationist version of the Quine–Putnam Indispensability argument, Alan Baker has recently claimed to have found an instance of a genuine mathematical explanation of a physical phenomenon. While I agree that Baker presents a very interesting example in which mathematics plays an essential explanatory role, I show that this example, and the argument built upon it, begs the question against the mathematical nominalist.
  38. added 2015-10-21
    The Nature of Mathematical Explanation.Carlo Cellucci - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):202-210.
    Although in the past three decades interest in mathematical explanation revived, recent literature on the subject seems to neglect the strict connection between explanation and discovery. In this paper I sketch an alternative approach that takes such connection into account. My approach is a revised version of one originally considered by Descartes. The main difference is that my approach is in terms of the analytic method, which is a method of discovery prior to axiomatized mathematics, whereas Descartes’s approach is in (...)
  39. added 2015-10-21
    Intrinsic Explanation and Field’s Dispensabilist Strategy.Russell Marcus - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21 (2):163-183.
    Philosophy of mathematics for the last half-century has been dominated in one way or another by Quine’s indispensability argument. The argument alleges that our best scientific theory quantifies over, and thus commits us to, mathematical objects. In this paper, I present new considerations which undermine the most serious challenge to Quine’s argument, Hartry Field’s reformulation of Newtonian Gravitational Theory.
  40. added 2015-10-21
    Mathematical Explanations in Euler’s Königsberg.Tim Räz - unknown
    I examine Leonhard Euler’s original solution to the Königsberg bridges problem. Euler’s solution can be interpreted as both an explanation within mathematics and a scientific explanation using mathematics. At the level of pure mathematics, Euler proposes three different solutions to the Königsberg problem. The differences between these solutions can be fruitfully explicated in terms of explanatory power. In the scientific version of the explanation, mathematics aids by representing the explanatorily salient causal structure of Königsberg. Based on this analysis, I defend (...)
  41. added 2015-10-12
    Using Mathematics to Explain a Scientific Theory.Michèle Friend & Daniele Molinini - 2016 - Philosophia Mathematica 24 (2):185-213.
    We answer three questions: 1. Can we give a wholly mathematical explanation of a physical phenomenon? 2. Can we give a wholly mathematical explanation for a whole physical theory? 3. What is gained or lost in giving a wholly, or partially, mathematical explanation of a phenomenon or a scientific theory? To answer these questions we look at a project developed by Hajnal Andréka, Judit Madarász, István Németi and Gergely Székely. They, together with collaborators, present special relativity theory in a three-sorted (...)
  42. added 2015-10-12
    Evidence, Explanation and Enhanced Indispensability.Daniele Molinini - 2016 - Synthese 193 (2):403-422.
    In this paper I shall adopt a possible reading of the notions of ‘explanatory indispensability’ and ‘genuine mathematical explanation in science’ on which the Enhanced Indispensability Argument proposed by Alan Baker is based. Furthermore, I shall propose two examples of mathematical explanation in science and I shall show that, whether the EIA-partisans accept the reading I suggest, they are easily caught in a dilemma. To escape this dilemma they need to adopt some account of explanation and offer a plausible answer (...)
  43. added 2015-10-12
    On the Epistemological Significance of the Hungarian Project.Michèle Friend - 2015 - Synthese 192 (7):2035-2051.
    There are three elements in this paper. One is what we shall call ‘the Hungarian project’. This is the collected work of Andréka, Madarász, Németi, Székely and others. The second is Molinini’s philosophical work on the nature of mathematical explanations in science. The third is my pluralist approach to mathematics. The theses of this paper are that the Hungarian project gives genuine mathematical explanations for physical phenomena. A pluralist account of mathematical explanation can help us with appreciating the significance of (...)
  44. added 2015-10-07
    Deductive Nomological Model and Mathematics: Making Dissatisfaction More Satisfactory.Daniele Molinini - 2014 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 29 (2):223-241.
    The discussion on mathematical explanation has inherited the same sense of dissatisfaction that philosophers of science expressed, in the context of scientific explanation, towards the deductive-nomological model. This model is regarded as unable to cover cases of bona fide mathematical explanations and, furthermore, it is largely ignored in the relevant literature. Surprisingly, the reasons for this ostracism are not sufficiently manifest. In this paper I explore a possible extension of the model to the case of mathematical explanations and I claim (...)
  45. added 2015-10-07
    Mechanistic Explanation and Explanatory Proofs in Mathematics.Joachim Frans & Erik Weber - 2014 - Philosophia Mathematica 22 (2):231-248.
    Although there is a consensus among philosophers of mathematics and mathematicians that mathematical explanations exist, only a few authors have proposed accounts of explanation in mathematics. These accounts fit into the unificationist or top-down approach to explanation. We argue that these models can be complemented by a bottom-up approach to explanation in mathematics. We introduce the mechanistic model of explanation in science and discuss the possibility of using this model in mathematics, arguing that using it does not presuppose a Platonist (...)
  46. added 2015-10-07
    Aspects of Mathematical Explanation: Symmetry, Unity, and Salience.Marc Lange - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (4):485-531.
    Unlike explanation in science, explanation in mathematics has received relatively scant attention from philosophers. Whereas there are canonical examples of scientific explanations, there are few examples that have become widely accepted as exhibiting the distinction between mathematical proofs that explain why some mathematical theorem holds and proofs that merely prove that the theorem holds without revealing the reason why it holds. This essay offers some examples of proofs that mathematicians have considered explanatory, and it argues that these examples suggest a (...)
  47. added 2015-10-07
    Argument and Explanation in Mathematics.Michel Dufour - 2013 - In Dima Mohammed and Marcin Lewiński (ed.), Virtues of Argumentation. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA), 22-26 May 2013. pp. pp. 1-14..
    Are there arguments in mathematics? Are there explanations in mathematics? Are there any connections between argument, proof and explanation? Highly controversial answers and arguments are reviewed. The main point is that in the case of a mathematical proof, the pragmatic criterion used to make a distinction between argument and explanation is likely to be insufficient for you may grant the conclusion of a proof but keep on thinking that the proof is not explanatory.
  48. added 2015-10-07
    Science-Driven Mathematical Explanation.Alan Baker - 2012 - Mind 121 (482):243-267.
    Philosophers of mathematics have become increasingly interested in the explanatory role of mathematics in empirical science, in the context of new versions of the Quinean ‘Indispensability Argument’ which employ inference to the best explanation for the existence of abstract mathematical objects. However, little attention has been paid to analysing the nature of the explanatory relation involved in these mathematical explanations in science (MES). In this paper, I attack the only articulated account of MES in the literature (an account sketched by (...)
  49. added 2015-10-07
    Learning From Euler. From Mathematical Practice to Mathematical Explanation.Daniele Molinini - 2012 - Philosophia Scientiae 16 (1):105-127.
    Dans son « Découverte d'un nouveau principe de mécanique » Euler a donné, pour la première fois, une preuve du théorème qu'on appelle aujourd'hui le Théorème d'Euler. Dans cet article je vais me concentrer sur la preuve originale d'Euler, et je vais montrer comment la pratique mathématique d Euler peut éclairer le débat philosophique sur la notion de preuves explicatives en mathématiques. En particulier, je montrerai comment l'un des modèles d'explication mathématique les plus connus, celui proposé par Mark Steiner dans (...)
  50. added 2015-10-07
    On Batterman's 'On the Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Empirical Science'.Christopher Pincock - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1):211 - 217.
    This discussion note of (Batterman [2010]) clarifies the modest aims of my 'mapping account' of applications of mathematics in science. Once these aims are clarified it becomes clear that Batterman's 'completely new approach' (Batterman [2010], p. 24) is not needed to make sense of his cases of idealized mathematical explanations. Instead, a positive proposal for the explanatory power of such cases can be reconciled with the mapping account.
1 — 50 / 101