The Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics: Partial Structures and the Application of Group Theory to Physics

Synthese 125 (1-2):103-120 (2000)
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Wigner famously referred to the `unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics in its application to science. Using Wigner's own application of group theory to nuclear physics, I hope to indicate that this effectiveness can be seen to be not so unreasonable if attention is paid to the various idealising moves undertaken. The overall framework for analysing this relationship between mathematics and physics is that of da Costa's partial structures programme.



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Steven French
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Shifting to structures in physics and biology: A prophylactic for promiscuous realism.Steven French - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):164-173.

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References found in this work

Introduction to logic.Patrick Suppes - 1957 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
Reinflating the semantic approach.Steven French & James Ladyman - 1999 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (2):103 – 121.
Empirical adequacy: A partial structures approach.Otávio Bueno - 1997 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 28 (4):585-610.

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