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Inference to the best explanation and mathematical realism


Arguing for mathematical realism on the basis of Field’s explanationist version of the Quine–Putnam Indispensability argument, Alan Baker has recently claimed to have found an instance of a genuine mathematical explanation of a physical phenomenon. While I agree that Baker presents a very interesting example in which mathematics plays an essential explanatory role, I show that this example, and the argument built upon it, begs the question against the mathematical nominalist.

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Correspondence to Sorin Ioan Bangu.

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Bangu, S.I. Inference to the best explanation and mathematical realism. Synthese 160, 13–20 (2008).

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  • Mathematics
  • Explanation
  • Realism
  • Nominalism