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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 33, Issue 2, May 2018

Susan Vineberg
Pages 233-247

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.