Linked bibliography for the SEP article "Indispensability Arguments in the Philosophy of Mathematics" by Mark Colyvan

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Although the indispensability argument is to be found in many places in Quine’s writings (including 1976; 1980a; 1980b; 1981a; 1981c), the locus classicus is Putnam’s short monograph Philosophy of Logic (included as a chapter of the second edition of the third volume of his collected papers (Putnam, 1979b)). See also Putnam (1979a) and the introduction of Field (1989), which has an excellent outline of the argument. Colyvan (2001) presents a sustained defence of the argument.

See Chihara (1973), and Field (1989; 2016) for attacks on the second premise and Colyvan (1999; 2001), Lyon and Colyvan (2008), Maddy (1990), Malament (1982), Resnik (1985), Shapiro (1983) and Urquhart (1990) for criticisms of Field’s program. See the preface to the second edition of Field 2016 for a good retrospective on these debates. For a fairly comprehensive look at nominalist strategies in the philosophy of mathematics (including an excellent discussion of Field’s program), see Burgess and Rosen (1997), while Feferman (1993) questions the amount of mathematics required for empirical science. See Azzouni (1997; 2004; 2012), Balaguer (1996b; 1998), Bueno (2012), Leng (2002; 2010; 2012), Liggins (2012), Maddy (1992; 1995; 1997), Melia (2000; 2002), Peressini (1997), Pincock (2004), Sober (1993), Vineberg (1996) and Yablo (1998; 2005; 2012) for attacks on the first premise. Baker (2001; 2005; 2012), Bangu (2012), Colyvan (1998a; 2001; 2002; 2007; 2010; 2012), Hellman (1999) and Resnik (1995a; 1997) reply to some of these objections.

For variants of the Quinean indispensability argument see Maddy (1992) and Resnik (1995a).

There has been a great deal of recent literature on the explanatory version of the indispensability argument. Early presentations of such an argument can be found in Colyvan (1998b; 2002), and most explicitly in Baker (2005), although this work was anticipated by Steiner (1978a; 1978b) on mathematical explanation and Smart on geometric explanation (1990). Some of the key articles on the explanatory version of the argument include Baker (2005; 2009; 2012; 2017; 2021), Bangu (2008; 2013), Baron (2014), Batterman (2010), Bueno and French (2012), Colyvan (2002; 2010; 2012; 2018), Lyon (2012), Rizza (2011), Saatsi (2011; 2016) and Yablo (2012).

Arising out of this debate over the role of mathematical explanation in indispensability arguments, has been a renewed interest in mathematical explanation for its own sake. This includes work on reconciling mathematical explanations in science with other forms of scientific explanation as well as investigating explanation within mathematics itself. Some of this work includes: Baron (2016), Baron et al. (2017; 2020), Colyvan et al. (2018), Lange (2017), Mancosu (2008), and Pincock (2011).

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