Grounding and the indispensability argument

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Abstract

There has been much discussion of the indispensability argument for the existence of mathematical objects. In this paper I reconsider the debate by using the notion of grounding, or non-causal dependence. First of all, I investigate what proponents of the indispensability argument should say about the grounding of relations between physical objects and mathematical ones. This reveals some resources which nominalists are entitled to use. Making use of these resources, I present a neglected but promising response to the indispensability argument-a liberalized version of Field's response-and I discuss its significance. I argue that if it succeeds, it provides a new refutation of the indispensability argument; and that, even if it fails, its failure may bolster some of the fictionalist responses to the indispensability argument already under discussion. In addition, I use grounding to reply to a recent challenge to these responses. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-548
Number of pages18
JournalSynthese
Volume193
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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