, 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.