, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 257-277

Confirming Mathematical Theories: an Ontologically Agnostic Stance

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Abstract

The Quine/Putnam indispensability approach to the confirmation of mathematical theories in recent times has been the subject of significant criticism. In this paper I explore an alternative to the Quine/Putnam indispensability approach. I begin with a van Fraassen-like distinction between accepting the adequacy of a mathematical theory and believing in the truth of a mathematical theory. Finally, I consider the problem of moving from the adequacy of a mathematical theory to its truth. I argue that the prospects for justifying this move are qualitatively worse in mathematics than they are in science.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.