Single Idea 18214

[catalogued under 6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 9. Fictional Mathematics]

Full Idea

Mathematics is in a sense empirical, but only in the rather Pickwickian sense that is an empirical question as to which mathematical theory is useful.

Gist of Idea

Mathematics is only empirical as regards which theory is useful


Hartry Field (Science without Numbers [1980], 1)

Book Reference

Field,Hartry: 'Science without Number' [Blackwell 1980], p.15

A Reaction

Field wants mathematics to be fictions, and not to be truths. But can he give an account of 'useful' that does not imply truth? Only in a rather dubiously pragmatist way. A novel is not useful.