Mind 129 (514):535-562 (2020)

Sam Baron
Australian Catholic University
Mathematics appears to play a genuine explanatory role in science. But how do mathematical explanations work? Recently, a counterfactual approach to mathematical explanation has been suggested. I argue that such a view fails to differentiate the explanatory uses of mathematics within science from the non-explanatory uses. I go on to offer a solution to this problem by combining elements of the counterfactual theory of explanation with elements of a unification theory of explanation. The result is a theory according to which a counterfactual is explanatory when it is an instance of a generalized counterfactual scheme.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/fzz008
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,205
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
The Indispensability of Mathematics.Mark Colyvan - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Modality and Explanatory Reasoning.Boris Kment - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Platonic Relations and Mathematical Explanations.Robert Knowles - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
Unification and Mathematical Explanation.Robert Knowles - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

How to Reject a Counterfactual.Vittorio Morato - 2017 - Logique Et Analyse 239:317-335.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.
The Entropy Theory of Counterfactuals.Douglas Kutach - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (1):82-104.
Explanatory Fictions—for Real?Samuel Schindler - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8):1741-1755.
Dissecting Explanatory Power.Petri Ylikoski & Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (2):201–219.


Added to PP index

Total views
91 ( #116,873 of 2,444,737 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #68,369 of 2,444,737 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes