Logic Colloquium: If 13 were not prime: Mathematics and counterpossibles

Colloquium | November 9 | 4-5 p.m. | 60 Evans Hall

 Mark Colyvan, Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy of Mathematics, University of Sydney; Visiting Professor and Humboldt Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians University

 Department of Mathematics

Standard approaches to counterfactuals in the philosophy of explanation are geared toward causal explanation. I suggest how to extend the counterfactual theory of explanation to non-causal, mathematical explanation. The core idea here is to model impossible perturbations to the relevant mathematics while tracking the resulting differences to the explanandum (either physical or mathematical, depending on whether we are dealing with extra-mathematical or intra-mathematical explanation). This approach has the potential to provide a unified account of explanation across science, mathematics, and logic.