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

Abstract

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

Fallis, Don, What Do Mathematicians Want? Probabilistic Proofs and the Epistemic Goals of Mathematicians (April 7, 2003). Logique et Analyse, Vol. 45, Nos. 179-180, pp. 373-388, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1509161

Don Fallis (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

360 Huntington Ave,
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://philpeople.org/profiles/don-fallis

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
109
rank
241,117
Abstract Views
613
PlumX Metrics