[FOM] Re.. Question on the relevance of pragmatism to mathematical abstraction [re natural science]

Richard Haney rfhaney at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 30 16:50:09 EST 2005

[Part of a multipart response: Pragmatism in natural science]

In response to my comment:

>> I would be particularly interested in any references
>> and/or discussion that might suggest or rebut the
>> idea that "various mathematical ideas are meaningless
>> because they do not have a pragmatic relevance or
>> interpretation in terms of empirical phenomena".

Panu Raatikainen wrote:

> One problem with all such views is that they would make
> ... also a large part of natural science meaningless.

I am puzzled as to how that could be.  It seems that an essential
aspect of natural science is that its theories are supposed to be
relevant to, and even testable/verifiable in, the empirical world
outside the discourse/theory in question.  To me that seems to be
certainly a sufficient aspect of being pragmatically meaningful; by
such theories, practical consequences can be devised in specific
instances.  Are you suggesting that a large part of natural science
consists of theories that are not empirically testable?  I might agree,
at least in part, but it would be helpful to have some examples of how
you think a large part of natural science might be considered
meaningless by the view I suggested.

Richard Haney

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

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