The applicabilities of mathematics

Philosophia Mathematica 3 (2):129-156 (1995)
Discussions of the applicability of mathematics in the natural sciences have been flawed by failure to realize that there are multiple senses in which mathematics can be ‘applied’ and, correspondingly, multiple problems that stem from the applicability of mathematics. I discuss semantic, metaphysical, descriptive, and and epistemological problems of mathematical applicability, dwelling on Frege's contribution to the solution of the first two types. As for the remaining problems, I discuss the contributions of Hartry Field and Eugene Wigner. Finally, I argue that there are epistemological problems concerning the applicability of mathematics that nobody in the philosophical community has yet confronted, though the problems are well known to physicists.
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DOI 10.1093/philmat/3.2.129
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Anthony Peressini (2008). Confirmational Holism and its Mathematical (W)Holes. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):102-111.

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