Living in Harmony: Nominalism and the Explanationist Argument for Realism

  title={Living in Harmony: Nominalism and the Explanationist Argument for Realism},
  author={J. Saatsi},
  journal={International Studies in the Philosophy of Science},
  pages={19 - 33}
  • J. Saatsi
  • Published 2007
  • Philosophy
  • International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
According to the indispensability argument, scientific realists ought to believe in the existence of mathematical entities, due to their indispensable role in theorising. Arguably the crucial sense of indispensability can be understood in terms of the contribution that mathematics sometimes makes to the super‐empirical virtues of a theory. Moreover, the way in which the scientific realist values such virtues, in general, and draws on explanatory virtues, in particular, ought to make the realist… Expand
Scientific Realism and the Indispensability Argument for Mathematical Realism: A Marriage Made in Hell
An emphasis on explanatory contribution is central to a recent formulation of the indispensability argument (IA) for mathematical realism. Because scientific realism is argued for by means ofExpand
Philosophy of science proper has been a battleground in which a key battle in the philosophy of mathematics is fought. On the one hand, indispensability arguments capitalise on the strengths ofExpand
On the ‘Indispensable Explanatory Role’ of Mathematics
The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to the ‘indispensable explanatory role’ of mathematics. I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatoryExpand
On Mathematics’ ‘Indispensable Explanatory Role’∗
The literature on the indispensability argument for mathematical realism often refers to mathematics’ ‘indispensable explanatory role.’ I argue that we should examine the notion of explanatoryExpand
Is the Indispensability Argument Dispensable
When the indispensability argument for mathematical entities (IA) is spelled out, it would appear confirmational holism is needed for the argument to work. It has been argued that confirmationalExpand
Indispensability and the problem of compatible explanations
  • Josh Hunt
  • Philosophy, Computer Science
  • Synthese
  • 2015
It is argued that IBE cannot establish that any particular mathematical entity is indispensable, and nominalists can rebut the EIA while still accepting Baker’s form of IBE. Expand
The Explanatory Indispensability of Mathematics: Why Structure is 'What There Is'
Inference to the best explanation (IBE) is the principle of inference according to which, when faced with a set of competing hypotheses, where each hypothesis is empirically adequate for explainingExpand
Scientific Realism meets Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics
I examine the epistemological debate on scientific realism in the context of quantum mechanics (QM), focusing on the empirical underdetermination of different formulations (and interpretations) ofExpand
Mathematical Explanation in Science
  • A. Baker
  • Philosophy
  • The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
  • 2009
Does mathematics ever play an explanatory role in science? If so then this opens the way for scientific realists to argue for the existence of mathematical entities using inference to the bestExpand
Discussion : The Enhanced Indispensability Argument : Representational vs . Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Science
The Enhanced Indispensability Argument (Baker [2009]) exemplifies the new wave of the indispensability argument for mathematical Platonism. The new wave capitalises on mathematics’ role in scientificExpand


Scientific realism and mathematical nominalism: A marriage made in hell
The Quine-Putnam Indispensability argument is the argument for treating mathematical entities on a par with other theoretical entities of our best scientific theories. This argument is usually takenExpand
The Indispensability of Mathematics
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 theoreticalExpand
Weaseling away the indispensability argument
According to the indispensability argument, the fact that we quantify over numbers, sets and functions in our best scientific theories gives us reason for believing that such objects exist. I examineExpand
Platonism and anti‐Platonism: Why worry?
This paper argues that it is scientific realists who should be most concerned about the issue of Platonism and anti‐Platonism in mathematics. If one is merely interested in accounting for theExpand
Response to Colyvan
In 'Weaseling Away the Indispensability Argument' (Melia 2000) I argued that although quantification over mathematical objects may indeed be indispensable to our scientific theories, it is not alwaysExpand
Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth
Scientific realism is the optimistic view that modern science is on the right track: that the world really is the way our best scientific theories describe it . In his book, Stathis Psillos gives usExpand
Are there Genuine Mathematical Explanations of Physical Phenomena
Many explanations in science make use of mathematics. But are there cases where the mathematical component of a scientific explanation is explanatory in its own right? This issue of mathematicalExpand
Platonism and Anti-Platonism in Mathematics
In this deft and vigorous book, Mark Balaguer demonstrates that there are no good arguments for or against mathematical platonism (i.e., the view that abstract, or non-spatio-temporal, mathematicalExpand
A Contextual Approach to Scientific Understanding
This analysis provides a general account of how understanding is provided by scientific explanations of diverse types and reconciles conflicting views of explanatory understanding, such as the causal-mechanical and the unificationist conceptions. Expand
The Miracle of Applied Mathematics
  • M. Colyvan
  • Philosophy, Computer Science
  • Synthese
  • 2004
This paper outlines two contemporary philosophical accounts of mathematics that pay a great deal of attention to the applicability of mathematics and shows that even these leave a large part of the puzzles in question unexplained. Expand