Confirmation and the indispensability of mathematics to science

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):263 (1996)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Quine and Putnam argued for mathematical realism on the basis of the indispensability of mathematics to science. They claimed that the mathematics that is used in physical theories is confirmed along with those theories and that scientific realism entails mathematical realism. I argue here that current theories of confirmation suggest that mathematics does not receive empirical support simply in virtue of being a part of well confirmed scientific theories and that the reasons for adopting a realist view of scientific theories do not support realism about mathematical entities, despite the use of mathematics in formulating scientific theory.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,549

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Scientific Realism and the Indispensability Argument for Mathematical Realism: A Marriage Made in Hell.Jacob Busch - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (4):307-325.
The Case for Mathematical Realism.Michael D. Resnik - 1997 - In Michael David Resnik (ed.), Mathematics as a science of patterns. New York ;: Oxford University Press.
Mathematical explanation and indispensability.Vineberg Susan - 2018 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 33 (2):233-247.
Scientific realism and mathematical nominalism: A marriage made in hell.Mark Colyvan - 2006 - In Colin Cheyne & John Worrall (eds.), Rationality and Reality: Conversations with Alan Musgrave. Springer. pp. 225-237. Translated by John Worrall.
Applying pure mathematics.Anthony Peressini - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):13.
Putnam, Gödel, and Mathematical Realism Revisited.Alan Weir - 2023 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 32 (1):146-168.
The Confirmation of Mathematics and its Relationship to Science.Anthony Francis Peressini - 1994 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison


Added to PP

148 (#129,011)

6 months
27 (#136,007)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Susan Vineberg
Wayne State University

References found in this work

On Mental Entities.Willard V. Quine - 1976 - In Willard Van Orman Quine (ed.), The ways of paradox, and other essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Indispensability and Practice.Penelope Maddy - 1992 - Journal of Philosophy 89 (6):275.
Mathematics and indispensability.Elliott Sober - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (1):35-57.
Review. [REVIEW]Barry Gower - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (1):555-559.

View all 7 references / Add more references