Can Ante Rem structuralism solve the access problem?

Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):155-164 (2008)


Ante rem structuralism is the doctnne that mathematics descubes a realm of abstract (structural) universab. According to its proponents, appeal to the exutence of these universab provides a source distinctive insight into the epistemology of mathematics, in particular insight into the so-called 'access problem' of explaining how mathematicians can reliably access truths about an abstract realm to which they cannot travel andfiom which they recave no signab. Stewart Shapiro offers the most developed version of this view to date. Through an examination of Shapiro's proposed structuralist epistemology for mathematics I argue that ante rem structuralism faib to provide the ingredients for a satisfactory resolution of the access problem for infinite structures (whether small or large)

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Fraser MacBride
University of Manchester

References found in this work

Realism, Mathematics, and Modality.Hartry Field - 1988 - Philosophical Topics 16 (1):57-107.
Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.

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