Dynamical Systems Theory and Explanatory Indispensability

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):892-904 (2017)
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I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can undermine platonist arguments from explanatory indispensability.

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Author's Profile

Juha Saatsi
University of Leeds

References found in this work

Science Without Numbers: A Defence of Nominalism.Hartry Field - 1980 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Mathematical Explanation in Science.Alan Baker - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):611-633.
Constructibility and Mathematical Existence.Charles S. Chihara - 1990 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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