Approaching the abstract: Building blocks for an epistemology of abstract objects

Semiotica 2013 (194):3-20 (2013)

Søren Klausen
University of Southern Denmark
Abstract objects are widely held to pose a formidable epistemological challenge. It has seemed mysterious to many how we can have access to such strange and intangible entities. The article considers five influential ways to meet the challenge: Transcendental arguments, the indispensability argument, insisting that we just are able to grasp abstract objects and that no further explanation is needed, abstractionist accounts, and ontological reduction. None of these approaches is by itself sufficient or completely convincing, but together they make out a strong cumulative case for the accessibility of abstract objects.
Keywords abstract objects  epistemology  ontology  transcendental arguments  indispensability arguments  mental modeling
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DOI 10.1515/sem-2013-0019
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