# Mathematical Structuralism

Edited by Rafal Urbaniak (Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego, Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego)
Assistant editors: Pawel Pawlowski, Sam Roberts
 Summary Mathematical structuralism is the view on which mathematical theories, rather than being about mathematical objects (like THE number zero, THE number one, etc., if there are such things), are about classes of structures (e.g., all omega sequences) whatever the objects in such structures are and whatever their nature is. The view comes in two important variants. Ante rem structuralism is a type of mathematical platonism, on which structures are abstract mathematical objects existing independently of their instances (called systems). In rebus structuralism is the view on which mathematical theories are about systems, which do not have to be abstract. So the former has to handle the problems that mathematical platonism encounters and the latter has to handle the problems encountered by mathematical nominalism. Apart from that, both approaches face specific challenges related to how the notion of a structure is understood and how it is to be squared with mathematical practice and the applicability of mathematics.
 Key works Benacerraf 1965, Hellman 1989, Resnik 1997, Shapiro 1997, S. Chihara 2003.
 Introductions Start with appropriate sections of Horsten 2008 and references therein. Also worth a read are Shapiro 2010 and Shapiro 1996.
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1. What is logical form?Axel Barcelo Aspeitia - manuscript
A good metaphysical account of logical form, must make clear why logical form is logical. However, this task has proved to be very elusive. Here, I analyze different attempts to meet this challenge and defend an inferential externalism where logical form is grounded on external logical relations as our most promising option.

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2. The Residual Access Problem.Sharon Berry - manuscript
A range of current truth-value realist philosophies of mathematics allow one to reduce the Benacerraf Problem to a problem concerning mathematicians' ability to recognize which conceptions of pure mathematical structures are coherent – in a sense which can be cashed out in terms of logical possibility. In this paper I will clarify what it takes to solve this residual' access problem and then present a framework for solving it.

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3. This study is about the Quality. Here I have dealt with the quality that differs significantly from the common understanding of quality /as determined quality/ that arise from the law of dialectics. This new quality is the quality of the quantity /quality of the quantitative changes/, noticed in philosophy by Plato as “quality of numbers”, and later developed by Hegel as “qualitative quantity. The difference between the known determined quality and qualitative quantity is evident in the exhibit form of these (...)
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4. This paper shows how the universals of category theory in mathematics provide a model (in the Platonic Heaven of mathematics) for the self-predicative strand of Plato's Theory of Forms as well as for the idea of a "concrete universal" in Hegel and similar ideas of paradigmatic exemplars in ordinary thought. The paper also shows how the always-self-predicative universals of category theory provide the "opposite bookend" to the never-self-predicative universals of iterative set theory and thus that the paradoxes arose from having (...)
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5. From the general history of culture, with a particular attention turned towards the personal and intellectual relationships between Hermann Weyl and Edmund Husserl, it will be possible to identify certain historical-critical moments from which a philosophical reflection concerning aspects of the ontology of mathematics may be carried out. In particular, a notable epistemological relevance of group theory methods will stand out.
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6. Names and Objects.Dan Kurth - manuscript
In this paper I try to fortify the nominalistic objectology (cf. Meinong's 'Gegenstandstheorie') with essentialist means. This also is intended as a preparation for introducing Information Monism.
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7. Why Can’t There Be Numbers?David Builes - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
Platonists affirm the existence of abstract mathematical objects, and Nominalists deny the existence of abstract mathematical objects. While there are standard arguments in favor of Nominalism, these arguments fail to account for the necessity of Nominalism. Furthermore, these arguments do nothing to explain why Nominalism is true. They only point to certain theoretical vices that might befall the Platonist. The goal of this paper is to formulate and defend a simple, valid argument for the necessity of Nominalism that seeks to (...)
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8. Review of Mathematics as a Science of Patterns. [REVIEW]M. Giaquinto - forthcoming - Mind.
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9. Izvlečki• abstracts.Mathematical Structuralism is A. Kind ofPlatonism - forthcoming - Filozofski Vestnik.
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10. Structuralism and the applicability of mathematics.Jairo José Silvdaa - forthcoming - Axiomathes.
In this paper I argue for the view that structuralism offers the best perspective for an acceptable account of the applicability of mathematics in the empirical sciences. Structuralism, as I understand it, is the view that mathematics is not the science of a particular type of objects, but of structural properties of arbitrary domains of entities, regardless of whether they are actually existing, merely presupposed or only intentionally intended.
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11. Structural explanations: impossibilities vs failures.Manuel Barrantes - 2023 - Synthese 201 (4):1-15.
The bridges of Königsberg case has been widely cited in recent philosophical discussions on scientific explanation as a potential example of a structural explanation of a physical phenomenon. However, when discussing this case, different authors have focused on two different versions, depending on what they take the explanandum to be. In one version, the explanandum is the _failure_ of a given individual in performing an Eulerian walk over the bridge system. In the other version, the explanandum is the _impossibility_ of (...)
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12. Applied Mathematics without Numbers.Jack Himelright - 2023 - Philosophia Mathematica 31 (2):147-175.
In this paper, I develop a "safety result" for applied mathematics. I show that whenever a theory in natural science entails some non-mathematical conclusion via an application of mathematics, there is a counterpart theory that carries no commitment to mathematical objects, entails the same conclusion, and the claims of which are true if the claims of the original theory are "correct": roughly, true given the assumption that mathematical objects exist. The framework used for proving the safety result has some advantages (...)
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13. Relationism and the Problem of Order.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2023 - Acta Analytica 38 (2):245-273.
Relationism holds that objects entirely depend on relations or that they must be eliminated in favour of the latter. In this article, I raise a problem for relationism. I argue that relationism cannot account for the order in which non-symmetrical relations apply to their relata. In Section 1, I introduce some concepts in the ontology of relations and define relationism. In Section 2, I present the Problem of Order for non-symmetrical relations, after distinguishing it from the Problem of Differential Application. (...)
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14. Fishbones, Wheels, Eyes, and Butterflies: Heuristic Structural Reasoning in the Search for Solutions to the Navier-Stokes Equations.Lydia Patton - 2023 - In Lydia Patton & Erik Curiel (eds.), Working Toward Solutions in Fluid Dynamics and Astrophysics: What the Equations Don’t Say. Springer Verlag. pp. 57-78.
Arguments for the effectiveness, and even the indispensability, of mathematics in scientific explanation rely on the claim that mathematics is an effective or even a necessary component in successful scientific predictions and explanations. Well-known accounts of successful mathematical explanation in physical science appeals to scientists’ ability to solve equations directly in key domains. But there are spectacular physical theories, including general relativity and fluid dynamics, in which the equations of the theory cannot be solved directly in target domains, and yet (...)

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15. Working Toward Solutions in Fluid Dynamics and Astrophysics: What the Equations Don’t Say.Lydia Patton & Erik Curiel (eds.) - 2023 - Springer Verlag.
Systems of differential equations are used to describe, model, explain, and predict states of physical systems. Experimental and theoretical branches of physics including general relativity, climate science, and particle physics have differential equations at their center. Direct solutions to differential equations are not available in many domains, which spurs on the use of creative mathematics and simulated solutions.
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16. A Logical Foundation for Potentialist Set Theory.Sharon Berry - 2022 - Cambridge University Press.
In many ways set theory lies at the heart of modern mathematics, and it does powerful work both philosophical and mathematical – as a foundation for the subject. However, certain philosophical problems raise serious doubts about our acceptance of the axioms of set theory. In a detailed and original reassessment of these axioms, Sharon Berry uses a potentialist approach to develop a unified determinate conception of set-theoretic truth that vindicates many of our intuitive expectations regarding set theory. Berry further defends (...)

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17. Mathematical Internal Realism.Tim Button - 2022 - In Sanjit Chakraborty & James Ferguson Conant (eds.), Engaging Putnam. Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. pp. 157-182.
In “Models and Reality” (1980), Putnam sketched a version of his internal realism as it might arise in the philosophy of mathematics. Here, I will develop that sketch. By combining Putnam’s model-theoretic arguments with Dummett’s reflections on Gödelian incompleteness, we arrive at (what I call) the Skolem-Gödel Antinomy. In brief: our mathematical concepts are perfectly precise; however, these perfectly precise mathematical concepts are manifested and acquired via a formal theory, which is understood in terms of a computable system of proof, (...)
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19. On Number-Set Identity: A Study.Sean C. Ebels-Duggan - 2022 - Philosophia Mathematica 30 (2):223-244.
Benacerraf’s 1965 multiple-reductions argument depends on what I call ‘deferential logicism’: his necessary condition for number-set identity is most plausible against a background Quineanism that allows autonomy of the natural number concept. Steinhart’s ‘folkist’ sufficient condition on number-set identity, by contrast, puts that autonomy at the center — but fails for not taking the folk perspective seriously enough. Learning from both sides, we explore new conditions on number-set identity, elaborating a suggestion from Wright.
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20. Mathematics as a science of non-abstract reality: Aristotelian realist philosophies of mathematics.James Franklin - 2022 - Foundations of Science 27 (2):327-344.
There is a wide range of realist but non-Platonist philosophies of mathematics—naturalist or Aristotelian realisms. Held by Aristotle and Mill, they played little part in twentieth century philosophy of mathematics but have been revived recently. They assimilate mathematics to the rest of science. They hold that mathematics is the science of X, where X is some observable feature of the (physical or other non-abstract) world. Choices for X include quantity, structure, pattern, complexity, relations. The article lays out and compares these (...)
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21. The Problem of Isomorphic Structures.Owain Griffin - 2022 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 11 (4):206-214.
Structuralism is one of the most popular contemporary accounts of mathematics. Despite its popularity, it has been challenged on the grounds of consistency. In this paper, I show that existing arguments purporting to establish an inconsistency miss the mark. I then proceed to develop a new argument against realist structuralism, to show that the commitment to mathematical pluralism and the structural identity criterion embraced by the realist structuralist jointly entail a contradiction.
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22. The structuralist approach to underdetermination.Chanwoo Lee - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-25.
This paper provides an exposition of the structuralist approach to underdetermination, which aims to resolve the underdetermination of theories by identifying their common theoretical structure. Applications of the structuralist approach can be found in many areas of philosophy. I present a schema of the structuralist approach, which conceptually unifies such applications in different subject matters. It is argued that two classic arguments in the literature, Paul Benacerraf’s argument on natural numbers and W. V. O. Quine’s argument for the indeterminacy of (...)
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23. Collective Abstraction.Jon Erling Litland - 2022 - Philosophical Review 131 (4):453-497.
This paper develops a novel theory of abstraction—what we call collective abstraction. The theory solves a notorious problem for noneliminative structuralism. The noneliminative structuralist holds that in addition to various isomorphic systems there is a pure structure that can be abstracted from each of these systems; but existing accounts of abstraction fail for nonrigid systems like the complex numbers. The problem with the existing accounts is that they attempt to define a unique abstraction operation. The theory of collective abstraction instead (...)
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24. The Structuralist Mathematical Style: Bourbaki as a case study.Jean-Pierre Marquis - 2022 - In Claudio Ternullo Gianluigi Oliveri (ed.), Boston Studies in the Philosophy and the History of Science. pp. 199-231.
In this paper, we look at Bourbaki’s work as a case study for the notion of mathematical style. We argue that indeed Bourbaki exemplifies a mathematical style, namely the structuralist style.
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25. Review of Theodore Sider's The Tools of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Science. [REVIEW]T. Scott Dixon - 2021 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

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26. Points as Higher-order Constructs: Whitehead’s Method of Extensive Abstraction.Achille C. Varzi - 2021 - In Stewart Shapiro & Geoffrey Hellman (eds.), The Continuous. Oxford University Press. pp. 347–378.
Euclid’s definition of a point as “that which has no part” has been a major source of controversy in relation to the epistemological and ontological presuppositions of classical geometry, from the medieval and modern disputes on indivisibilism to the full development of point-free geometries in the 20th century. Such theories stem from the general idea that all talk of points as putative lower-dimensional entities must and can be recovered in terms of suitable higher-order constructs involving only extended regions (or bodies). (...)

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27. A Sketch of Reality.Phillip Bricker - 2020 - In Modal Matters: Essays in Metaphysics. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 3-39.
In this introductory chapter to my collection of papers, Modal Matters, I present my tripartite account of reality. First, I endorse a plenitudinous Platonism: for every consistent mathematical theory, there is in reality a mathematical system in which the theory is true. Second, for any way of distributing fundamental qualitative properties over mathematical structures, there is a portion of reality that has that structure with fundamental properties distributed in that way; some of these portions of reality, when isolated, are the (...)

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28. Structuralism and Mathematical Practice in Felix Klein’s Work on Non-Euclidean Geometry†.Biagioli Francesca - 2020 - Philosophia Mathematica 28 (3):360-384.
It is well known that Felix Klein took a decisive step in investigating the invariants of transformation groups. However, less attention has been given to Klein’s considerations on the epistemological implications of his work on geometry. This paper proposes an interpretation of Klein’s view as a form of mathematical structuralism, according to which the study of mathematical structures provides the basis for a better understanding of how mathematical research and practice develop.
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29. An ‘i’ for an i, a Truth for a Truth†.Mary Leng - 2020 - Philosophia Mathematica 28 (3):347-359.
Stewart Shapiro’s ante rem structuralism recognizes the structural or ‘algebraic’ aspects of mathematical practice while still offering a face-value semantics. Fictionalism, as a purely ‘algebraic’ approach, is held to be at a disadvantage, as compared with Shapiro’s structuralism, in not interpreting mathematics at face value. However, the face-value reading of mathematical singular terms has difficulty explaining how we can use such terms to pick out a unique referent in cases where the relevant mathematical structures admit non-trivial automorphisms. Shapiro offers a (...)
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30. The Quantum Strategy of Completeness: On the Self-Foundation of Mathematics.Vasil Penchev - 2020 - Cultural Anthropology eJournal (Elsevier: SSRN) 5 (136):1-12.
Gentzen’s approach by transfinite induction and that of intuitionist Heyting arithmetic to completeness and the self-foundation of mathematics are compared and opposed to the Gödel incompleteness results as to Peano arithmetic. Quantum mechanics involves infinity by Hilbert space, but it is finitist as any experimental science. The absence of hidden variables in it interpretable as its completeness should resurrect Hilbert’s finitism at the cost of relevant modification of the latter already hinted by intuitionism and Gentzen’s approaches for completeness. This paper (...)
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31. Introduction to Special Issue: Foundations of Mathematical Structuralism.Georg Schiemer & John Wigglesworth - 2020 - Philosophia Mathematica 28 (3):291-295.
Structuralism, the view that mathematics is the science of structures, can be characterized as a philosophical response to a general structural turn in modern mathematics. Structuralists aim to understand the ontological, epistemological, and semantical implications of this structural approach in mathematics. Theories of structuralism began to develop following the publication of Paul Benacerraf’s paper ‘What numbers could not be’ in 1965. These theories include non-eliminative approaches, formulated in a background ontology of sui generis structures, such as Stewart Shapiro’s ante rem (...)
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32. Generic Structures.Leon Horsten - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (3):362-380.
In this article ideas from Kit Fine’s theory of arbitrary objects are applied to questions regarding mathematical structuralism. I discuss how sui generis mathematical structures can be viewed as generic systems of mathematical objects, where mathematical objects are conceived of as arbitrary objects in Fine’s sense.
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33. The ontology of words: a structural approach.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (8):877-911.
Words form a fundamental basis for our understanding of linguistic practice. However, the precise ontology of words has eluded many philosophers and linguists. A persistent difficulty for most accounts of words is the type-token distinction [Bromberger, S. 1989. “Types and Tokens in Linguistics.” In Reflections on Chomsky, edited by A. George, 58–90. Basil Blackwell; Kaplan, D. 1990. “Words.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume LXIV: 93–119]. In this paper, I present a novel account of words which differs from the atomistic and platonistic (...)
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34. Non-ontological Structuralism†.Michael Resnik - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (3):303-315.
ABSTRACT Historical structuralist views have been ontological. They either deny that there are any mathematical objects or they maintain that mathematical objects are structures or positions in them. Non-ontological structuralism offers no account of the nature of mathematical objects. My own structuralism has evolved from an early sui generis version to a non-ontological version that embraces Quine’s doctrine of ontological relativity. In this paper I further develop and explain this view.
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35. Modal Structuralism and Reflection.Sam Roberts - 2019 - Review of Symbolic Logic 12 (4):823-860.
Modal structuralism promises an interpretation of set theory that avoids commitment to abstracta. This article investigates its underlying assumptions. In the first part, I start by highlighting some shortcomings of the standard axiomatisation of modal structuralism, and propose a new axiomatisation I call MSST (for Modal Structural Set Theory). The main theorem is that MSST interprets exactly Zermelo set theory plus the claim that every set is in some inaccessible rank of the cumulative hierarchy. In the second part of the (...)
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36. Introduction to Special Issue: The Emergence of Structuralism.Stewart Shapiro, Prokop Sousedik & David Svoboda - 2019 - Philosophia Mathematica 27 (3):299-302.
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37. The semantic plights of the ante-rem structuralist.Bahram Assadian - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (12):1-20.
A version of the permutation argument in the philosophy of mathematics leads to the thesis that mathematical terms, contrary to appearances, are not genuine singular terms referring to individual objects; they are purely schematic or variables. By postulating ‘ante-rem structures’, the ante-rem structuralist aims to defuse the permutation argument and retain the referentiality of mathematical terms. This paper presents two semantic problems for the ante- rem view: (1) ante-rem structures are themselves subject to the permutation argument; (2) the ante-rem structuralist (...)
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38. Modal Structuralism Simplified.Sharon Berry - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):200-222.
Since Benacerraf’s ‘What Numbers Could Not Be, ’ there has been a growing interest in mathematical structuralism. An influential form of mathematical structuralism, modal structuralism, uses logical possibility and second order logic to provide paraphrases of mathematical statements which don’t quantify over mathematical objects. These modal structuralist paraphrases are a useful tool for nominalists and realists alike. But their use of second order logic and quantification into the logical possibility operator raises concerns. In this paper, I show that the work (...)
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39. Philosophy and Model Theory.Tim Button & Sean P. Walsh - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Edited by Sean Walsh & Wilfrid Hodges.
Philosophy and model theory frequently meet one another. Philosophy and Model Theory aims to understand their interactions -/- Model theory is used in every ‘theoretical’ branch of analytic philosophy: in philosophy of mathematics, in philosophy of science, in philosophy of language, in philosophical logic, and in metaphysics. But these wide-ranging appeals to model theory have created a highly fragmented literature. On the one hand, many philosophically significant mathematical results are found only in mathematics textbooks: these are aimed squarely at mathematicians; (...)
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40. Reflections on Reflection in a Multiverse.Geoffrey Hellman - 2018 - In Erich H. Reck (ed.), Logic, Philosophy of Mathematics, and Their History: Essays in Honor of W. W. Tait. College Publications. pp. 77-90.

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41. Modal Structuralism and Theism.Silvia Jonas - 2018 - In Fiona Ellis (ed.), New Models of Religious Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Drawing an analogy between modal structuralism about mathematics and theism, I o er a structuralist account that implicitly de nes theism in terms of three basic relations: logical and metaphysical priority, and epis- temic superiority. On this view, statements like God is omniscient' have a hypothetical and a categorical component. The hypothetical component provides a translation pattern according to which statements in theistic language are converted into statements of second-order modal logic. The categorical component asserts the logical possibility of the (...)

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42. What Are Structural Properties?†.Johannes Korbmacher & Georg Schiemer - 2018 - Philosophia Mathematica 26 (3):295-323.
Informally, structural properties of mathematical objects are usually characterized in one of two ways: either as properties expressible purely in terms of the primitive relations of mathematical theories, or as the properties that hold of all structurally similar mathematical objects. We present two formal explications corresponding to these two informal characterizations of structural properties. Based on this, we discuss the relation between the two explications. As will be shown, the two characterizations do not determine the same class of mathematical properties. (...)
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43. Putnam on Mathematics as Modal Logic.Ø Linnebo - 2018 - In John Burgess (ed.), Hilary Putnam on Logic and Mathematics. Cham: Springer Verlag.
Two uses of modal logic to explicate mathematics—due primarily to Hilary Putnam and Charles Parsons—are compared and contrasted. The approaches differ both technically and concerning ontology. Some reasons to push the former approach in the direction of the latter are articulated and discussed.
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44. Unfolding FOLDS: A Foundational Framework for Abstract Mathematical Concepts.Jean-Pierre Marquis - 2018 - In Landry Elaine (ed.), Category for the Working Philosophers. Oxford University Press. pp. 136-162.

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45. Haecceities and Mathematical Structuralism.Christopher Menzel - 2018 - Philosophia Mathematica 26 (1):84-111.
Recent work in the philosophy of mathematics has suggested that mathematical structuralism is not committed to a strong form of the Identity of Indiscernibles (II). José Bermúdez demurs, and argues that a strong form of II can be warranted on structuralist grounds by countenancing identity properties, or haecceities, as legitimately structural. Typically, structuralists dismiss such properties as obviously non-structural. I will argue to the contrary that haecceities can be viewed as structural but that this concession does not warrant Bermúdez’s version (...)
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46. Inferentialism and Structuralism: A Tale of Two Theories.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2018 - Logique Et Analyse 61 (244):489-512.
This paper aims to unite two seemingly disparate themes in the philosophy of mathematics and language respectively, namely ante rem structuralism and inferentialism. My analysis begins with describing both frameworks in accordance with their genesis in the work of Hilbert. I then draw comparisons between these philosophical views in terms of their similar motivations and similar objections to the referential orthodoxy. I specifically home in on two points of comparison, namely the role of norms and the relation of ontological dependence (...)
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47. Languages and Other Abstract Structures.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2018 - In Martin Neef & Christina Behme (eds.), Essays on Linguistic Realism. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 139-184.
My aim in this chapter is to extend the Realist account of the foundations of linguistics offered by Postal, Katz and others. I first argue against the idea that naive Platonism can capture the necessary requirements on what I call a ‘mixed realist’ view of linguistics, which takes aspects of Platonism, Nominalism and Mentalism into consideration. I then advocate three desiderata for an appropriate ‘mixed realist’ account of linguistic ontology and foundations, namely (1) linguistic creativity and infinity, (2) linguistics as (...)

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48. What we talk about when we talk about numbers.Richard Pettigrew - 2018 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 169 (12):1437-1456.
In this paper, I describe and motivate a new species of mathematical structuralism, which I call Instrumental Nominalism about Set-Theoretic Structuralism. As the name suggests, this approach takes standard Set-Theoretic Structuralism of the sort championed by Bourbaki and removes its ontological commitments by taking an instrumental nominalist approach to that ontology of the sort described by Joseph Melia and Gideon Rosen. I argue that this avoids all of the problems that plague other versions of structuralism.
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49. 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 (...)
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50. This monograph offers a fresh perspective on the applicability of mathematics in science. It explores what mathematics must be so that its applications to the empirical world do not constitute a mystery. In the process, readers are presented with a new version of mathematical structuralism. The author details a philosophy of mathematics in which the problem of its applicability, particularly in physics, in all its forms can be explained and justified. Chapters cover: mathematics as a formal science, mathematical ontology: what (...)
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