Mathematics and Reality

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Mary Leng offers a defence of mathematical fictionalism, arguing that we have no reason to believe that there are any mathematical objects. In mounting this defence she responds to the indispensability argument for the existence of mathematical objects, arguably the most pressing challenge that fictionalists must face. According to the indispensability argument, we ought to believe that there are such things as numbers, functions, and sets, since claims whose truth would require the existence of such things are indispensable in the formulation of our best scientific theories. In response to this argument, Leng offers an account of the role of mathematics in empirical science that does not assume that the mathematical hypotheses used in formulating our scientific theories are true.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages278
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-967468-8
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • mathematics
  • philosophy
  • indispensability
  • Quine
  • Putnam
  • fictionalism
  • science
  • realism

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