Non-Fiction Books:

Mathematics as a Tool

Tracing New Roles of Mathematics in the Sciences


Paperback / softback

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Mathematics as a Tool
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This book puts forward a new role for mathematics in the natural sciences. In the traditional understanding, a strong viewpoint is advocated, on the one hand, according to which mathematics is used for truthfully expressing laws of nature and thus for rendering the rational structure of the world. In a weaker understanding, many deny that these fundamental laws are of an essentially mathematical character, and suggest that mathematics is merely a convenient tool for systematizing observational knowledge. The position developed in this volume combines features of both the strong and the weak viewpoint. In accordance with the former, mathematics is assigned an active and even shaping role in the sciences, but at the same time, employing mathematics as a tool is taken to be independent from the possible mathematical structure of the objects under consideration. Hence the tool perspective is contextual rather than ontological. Furthermore, tool-use has to respect conditions like suitability, efficacy, optimality, and others. There is a spectrum of means that will normally differ in how well they serve particular purposes. The tool perspective underlines the inevitably provisional validity of mathematics: any tool can be adjusted, improved, or lose its adequacy upon changing practical conditions.

Author Biography

Johannes Lenhard does research in philosophy of science with a particular focus on the history and philosophy of mathematics and statistics. During the last years his research concentrated on various aspects of computer and simulation modeling, culminating in his monograph "Calculated Surprises" (in German). Currently, he is senior researcher at the philosophy department of Bielefeld University, Germany. He has held a visiting associate professorship in history at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, long after he had received his doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Frankfurt, Germany. Martin Carrier is a professor at the Department of Philosophy, Bielefeld University. He has worked on five different fields in the philosophy of science. History of Early Modern Physical Theory, Theory Change: Problems of Methodological Comparison and Confirmation Theory, Conceptual Relations among Theoretical Systems: cognition, neuronal states, behavior, incommensurability, theory-laden tests, Space-Time Philosophy and Methodological Problems of Applied Research.
Release date Australia
May 9th, 2018
Edited by Johannes Lenhard Edited by Martin Carrier
Country of Publication
Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2017
14 Tables, color; 10 Tables, black and white; 10 Illustrations, color; 18 Illustrations, black and white; X, 286 p. 28 illus., 10 illus. in color.
Springer International Publishing AG
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