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The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice$
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Paolo Mancosu

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296453

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296453.001.0001

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Mathematical Explanation: Why it Matters

Mathematical Explanation: Why it Matters

Chapter:
(p.134) 5 Mathematical Explanation: Why it Matters
Source:
The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice
Author(s):

Paolo Mancosu (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296453.003.0006

This chapter offers a broad survey of the literature on mathematical explanation, and shows the importance of this area of work for a philosophical understanding of mathematical practice and for other philosophical areas such as metaphysics and epistemology. The discussion begins with a distinction between mathematical explanations of scientific facts and mathematical explanation of mathematical facts. The former topic leads naturally to a discussion of new versions of the indispensability argument and the latter to a discussion of the two major accounts of mathematical explanation available, e.g. those of Steiner and Kitcher.

Keywords:   mathematical explanation, scientific explanation, Kitcher, Steiner, ontological commitment, indispensability argument, generality, explanatory proof

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