[FOM] Mathematical explanation

paolo mancosu mancosu at socrates.berkeley.edu
Tue Oct 25 13:09:52 EDT 2005

Unification theories of explanation (Kitcher and others) do not 
appeal to counterfactuals. Such theories have been proposed in the 
first place to account for explanations in the natural sciences but 
they can also be applied to mathematics.  Thus establishing the first 
premise would at least require excluding that unifications are 
explanations. In her book "Unifying scientific theories", Margaret 
Morrison claims that unification and explanation often have little to 
do with each other. Whether she is right or not is still open for 
discussion. But even if she is right that would not establish premise 
one. It would only show that unification theories cannot provide the 
required counterexample.

>Well, here's a position that has at least the beneifit of clarity and
>No explanations without counterfactuals
>No counterfactuals without contingency
>All of Mathematics is necessary
>No explanations in mathematics!
>I'm not saying i believe it, but finding the right place to pick holes
>might be a useful discipline.
>On Sun, 23 Oct 2005, paolo mancosu wrote:
>>  I do agree with Richard Heck that we are not yet at
>>  the stage where we can map a conceptual chart of
>>  all the possible positions.
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