Lakatos as historian of mathematics

Philosophia Mathematica 5 (1):42-64 (1997)
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Abstract

This paper discusses the connection between the actual history of mathematics and Lakatos's philosophy of mathematics, in three parts. The first points to studies by Lakatos and others which support his conception of mathematics and its history. In the second I suggest that the apparent poverty of Lakatosian examples may be due to the way in which the history of mathematics is usually written. The third part argues that Lakatos is right to hold philosophy accountable to history, even if Lakatos's own view of mathematics fails that test.

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Brendan Larvor
University of Hertfordshire