An easy road to nominalism

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Abstract

In this paper, I provide an easy road to nominalism which does not rely on a Field-type nominalization strategy for mathematics (Field 1980). According to this proposal, applications of mathematics to science, and alleged mathematical explanations of physical phenomena, only emerge when suitable physical interpretations of the mathematical formalism are advanced. And since these interpretations are rarely distinguished from the mathematical formalism, the impression arises that mathematical explanations derive from the mathematical formalism alone. I correct this misimpression by pointing out, in the cases recently discussed by Mark Colyvan (2010), exactly where the interpretations of the formalism were invoked and the function they played in the resulting explanations. A viable form of easy-road nominalism, which is also sensitive to scientific practice, then arises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-982
Number of pages16
JournalMind
Volume121
Issue number484
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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