Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Mathematics and Reality$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Mary Leng

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280797.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 October 2020

Explaining the Success of Mathematics

Explaining the Success of Mathematics

Chapter:
(p.217) 9 Explaining the Success of Mathematics
Source:
Mathematics and Reality
Author(s):

Mary Leng (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280797.003.0009

This chapter considers how to choose between realism, mathematical fictionalism, and constructive empiricism as three different attitudes to our best scientific theories. It is argued that the choice should depend on consideration of which of these attitudes can best explain the predictive and explanatory successes of our scientific theories. While defenders of the ‘no miracles’ argument are correct in claiming that the predictive success of science as construed by constructive empiricism would be miraculous, they are mistaken in thinking that realism is the only alternative. Given their view of the nature of scientific theorizing, and the genesis of our scientific theories, mathematical fictionalists have at least as much reason as do realists for expecting those theories to be predictively successful. As for explanation, it is argued that mathematical posits do occur in scientific explanations, but that mathematical explanations can be explanatory without being true.

Keywords:   no miracles, explanation, prediction, success of science, realism, fictionalism, constructive empiricism

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .