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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 6, Issue 2, 2006

Epistemology

Dale Jacquette
Pages 237-267

Applied Mathematics in the Sciences

A complete philosophy of mathematics must address Paul Benacerraf’s dilemma. The requirements of a general semantics for the truth of mathematical theorems that coheres also with the meaning and truth conditions for non-mathematical sentences, according to Benacerraf, should ideally be coupled with an adequate epistemology for the discovery of mathematical knowledge. Standard approaches to the philosophy of mathematics are criticized against their own merits and against the background of Benacerraf’s dilemma, particularly with respect to the problem of understanding the distinction between pure and applied mathematics and the effectiveness of applied mathematics in the natural sciences and engineering. The evaluation of these alternatives provides the basis for articulating a philosophically advantageous Aristotelian inherence concept of mathematical entities. An inherence account solves Benacerraf’s dilemma by interpreting mathematical entities as nominalizations of structural spatiotemporal properties inhering in existent spatiotemporal entities.

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