Dynamical Systems Theory and Explanatory Indispensability

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):892-904 (2017)
Authors
Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds
Abstract
I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can undermine platonist arguments from explanatory indispensability.
Keywords Indispensability argument  Explanation  Platonism  Chaos
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1086/693965
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