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The Indispensability of Mathematics

Mark Colyvan


Looks at the Quine–Putnam indispensability argument in the philosophy of mathematics. This argument urges us to place mathematical entities on the same ontological footing as other theoretical entities indispensable to our best scientific theories. The indispensability argument has come under serious scrutiny in recent times, with many influential philosophers unconvinced of its cogency. This book outlines the indispensability argument in considerable detail, before defending it against various challenges.

Keywords: applied mathematics, Mark Colyvan, holism, indispensability argument, mathematics, naturalism, ontological commitment, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy, Putnam, Quine

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2001 Print ISBN-13: 9780195137545
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/019513754X.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Colyvan, author
University of Tasmania