Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 311–335 | Cite as

On skepticism and its role in the development of proof in the classroom

  • Stacy A. BrownEmail author


The purpose of this paper is to examine students’ development of a capacity to maintain doubt, against a backdrop of empirical evidence. Specifically, drawing on data from clinical interviews and a series of teaching experiments, this paper describes two pathways, the Experiential Pathway and the Cultural Non-Experiential Pathway, for the development of the mathematical disposition of engaging in skepticism towards empirical validations. Issues related to current ways of framing students’ views of empirical evidence and the role of pragmatic forms of doubt are considered.


Skepticism Uncertainty Mathematical proof Empiricism 



The author would like to thank Larry Sowder, for his supervision of the original research, and Paolo Boero and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on prior drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State Polytechnic UniversityPomonaUSA

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