Magicicada, mathematical realism and mathematical explanation

Rizza, Davide ORCID: (2011) Magicicada, mathematical realism and mathematical explanation. Erkenntnis, 74 (1). pp. 101-114. ISSN 1572-8420

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Baker (2005) claims to provide an example of mathematical explanation of an empirical phenomenon which leads to ontological commitment to mathematical objects. This is meant to show that the positing of mathematical entities is necessary for satisfactory scientific explanations and thus that the application of mathematics to science can be used, at least in some cases, to support mathematical realism. In this paper I show that the example of explanation Baker considers can actually be given without postulating mathematical objects and thus cannot be used by the mathematical realist. I also show that, despite this, mathematics keeps playing an important methodological role in the explanation and does not reduce to a merely computational or descriptive framework.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Philosophy
Depositing User: Philip Robinson
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2011 09:23
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:21
DOI: 10.1007/s10670-010-9261-z

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