Indispensability Arguments and Their Quinean Heritage

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Abstract

Indispensability arguments (IA) for mathematical realism are commonly traced back to Quine. We identify two different Quinean strands in the interpretation of IA, what we label the ‘logical point of view’ and the ‘theory-contribution’ point of view. Focusing on each of the latter, we offer two minimal versions of IA. These both dispense with a number of theoretical assumptions commonly thought to be relevant to IA (most notably confirmational holism and naturalism). We then show that the attribution of both minimal arguments to Quine is controversial, and stress the extent to which this is so in both cases, in order to attain a better appreciation of the Quinean heritage of IA.

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