Mathematical Explanation and Epistemology: Please Mind the Gap

Ratio 29 (2):149-167 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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 nominalists and platonists alike. Platonists can make a case for epistemic access to mathematical objects by providing evidence in favour of the existence of extra-mathematical explanations. Nominalists, by contrast, can use the access problem to cast doubt on the idea that mathematical objects play a substantive role in scientific explanation.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,297

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

What Are Mathematical Coincidences ?M. Lange - 2010 - Mind 119 (474):307-340.
Mathematical Contingentism.Kristie Miller - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (3):335-359.
Mathematical Explanations Of Empirical Facts, And Mathematical Realism.Aidan Lyon - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):559-578.
Mathematical Explanation in Science.Alan Baker - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):611-633.
Truth and proof.Otávio Bueno - 2008 - Manuscrito 31 (1):419-440.
The Argument from Agreement and Mathematical Realism.Pieranna Garavaso - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:173-187.


Added to PP

68 (#178,228)

6 months
5 (#154,227)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Sam Baron
Australian Catholic University

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references