What Do Mathematicians Want? Probabilistic Proofs and the Epistemic Goals of Mathematicians
Logique et Analyse, Vol. 45, Nos. 179-180, pp. 373-388, 2002
24 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2009
Date Written: April 7, 2003
Several philosophers have used the framework of means/ends reasoning to explain the methodological choices made by scientists and mathematicians (see, e.g., Goldman 1999, Levi 1962, Maddy 1997). In particular, they have tried to identify the epistemic objectives of scientists and mathematicians that will explain these choices. In this paper, the framework of means/ends reasoning is used to study an important methodological choice made by mathematicians. Namely, mathematicians will only use deductive proofs to establish the truth of mathematical claims. In this paper, I argue that none of the epistemic objectives of mathematicians that are currently on the table provide a satisfactory explanation of this rejection of probabilistic proofs.
Keywords: epistemic goals, epistemology, mathematics, probability, proof
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation