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Mathematics and Scientific Representation$
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Christopher Pincock

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199757107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757107.001.0001

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(p.243) 12 Fictionalism
Mathematics and Scientific Representation

Christopher Pincock

Oxford University Press

Fictionalism about mathematics is the view that we can use mathematics in science and yet not believe that our mathematical claims are true. This chapter critically evaluates some of the most important versions of fictionalism. It begins by considering the leading options for making sense of literary fictions and argues that engaging with a literary fiction does not present any evidence for how things are in the real world. This point is then used to criticize fictionalism about mathematics and a related fictionalist position about scientific models. Another objection is that the fictionalist has yet to clarify the rules for exporting well-supported claims from the fiction in the scientific case. This suggests that fictionalists are not able to make sense of the contributions delineated in part one of the book.

Keywords:   literary fiction, anti-realism about fiction, pretense, scientific models

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