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How Can Abstract Objects of Mathematics Be Known?†

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AbstractThe aim of the paper is to answer some arguments raised against mathematical structuralism developed by Michael Resnik. These arguments stress the abstractness of mathematical objects, especially their causal inertness, and conclude that mathematical objects, the structures posited by Resnik included, are inaccessible to human cognition. In the paper I introduce a distinction between abstract and ideal objects and argue that mathematical objects are primarily ideal. I reconstruct some aspects of the instrumental practice of mathematics, such as symbolic manipulations or ruler-and-compass constructions, and argue that instrumental practice can secure epistemic access to ideal objects of mathematics.

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News source: Philosophia Mathematica Current Issue

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