Proofs and arguments: The special case of mathematics

Jean Paul Van Bendegem
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Most philosophers still tend to believe that mathematics is basically about producing formal proofs. A consequence of this view is that some aspects of mathematical practice are entirely lost from view. My contention is that it is precisely in those aspects that similarities can be found between practices in the exact sciences and in mathematics. Hence, if we are looking for a (more) unified treatment of science and mathematics it is necessary to incorporate these elements into our view of what mathematics is about. As a helpful tool I introduce the notion of a mathematical argument as a more liberalized version of the notion of mathematical proof.
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