Sam Baron

University of Western Australia

*Unification and Mathematical Explanation*

*Unification and Mathematical Explanation*

**4 December 2019, 16:00**

**Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa**

**Room B? **(close to the Faculty’s Library)

**Abstract:** Mathematics clearly plays an important role in scientific explanation. Debate continues, however, over the kind of role that mathematics plays. Mathematics may be playing a ‘thick’ explanatory role, in this sense: there are some physical phenomena that occur for mathematical reasons. Alternatively, it may be that mathematics is playing a ‘thin’ explanatory role by merely representing the physical reasons why certain phenomena occur. It has been argued that the explanatory indispensability of mathematics under-determines the kind of role that mathematics plays, and so doesn’t provide a reason to believe that mathematics is playing a thick role. I argue that if mathematical and physical explanations are indispensably unified within science, then we have good reason to believe that mathematics is playing a thick role. The argument provides guidance on the types of explanation we should be looking for to establish that mathematics is genuinely explanatory.