Volume 33, Issue 2, May 2018
Mathematical explanation and indispensability
This paper discusses Baker’s Enhanced Indispensability Argument (EIA) for mathematical realism on the basis of the indispensable role mathematics plays in scientific explanations of physical facts, along with various responses to it. I argue that there is an analogue of causal explanation for mathematics which, of several basic types of explanation, holds the most promise for use in the EIA. I consider a plausible case where mathematics plays an explanatory role in this sense, but argue that such use still does not support realism about mathematical objects.