The varieties of indispensability arguments

Synthese 193 (2):469-516 (2016)
Andrea Sereni
Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSS Pavia
The indispensability argument comes in many different versions that all reduce to a general valid schema. Providing a sound IA amounts to providing a full interpretation of the schema according to which all its premises are true. Hence, arguing whether IA is sound results in wondering whether the schema admits such an interpretation. We discuss in full details all the parameters on which the specification of the general schema may depend. In doing this, we consider how different versions of IA can be obtained, also through different specifications of the notion of indispensability. We then distinguish between schematic and genuine IA, and argue that no genuine sound IA is available or easily forthcoming. We then submit that this holds also in the particularly relevant case in which indispensability is conceived as explanatory indispensability
Keywords Indispensability arguments  Mathematical platonism   Mathematical explanation  Explanatory indispensability
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0977-9
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