Proofs and pictures

James Robert Brown
University of Toronto, St. George
Everyone appreciates a clever mathematical picture, but the prevailing attitude is one of scepticism: diagrams, illustrations, and pictures prove nothing; they are psychologically important and heuristically useful, but only a traditional verbal/symbolic proof provides genuine evidence for a purported theorem. Like some other recent writers (Barwise and Etchemendy [1991]; Shin [1994]; and Giaquinto [1994]) I take a different view and argue, from historical considerations and some striking examples, for a positive evidential role for pictures in mathematics.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/48.2.161
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Proofs, Pictures, and Euclid.John Mumma - 2010 - Synthese 175 (2):255 - 287.
The Role of Diagrams in Mathematical Arguments.David Sherry - 2009 - Foundations of Science 14 (1-2):59-74.
Mathematical Explanation Beyond Explanatory Proof.William D’Alessandro - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy009.

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