How mathematics can make a difference

Samuel Thomas Baron, Mark Colyvan, David Ripley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Standard approaches to counterfactuals in the philosophy of explanation are geared toward causal explanation. We show how to extend the counterfactual theory of explanation to non-causal cases, involving extra-mathematical explanation: the explanation of physical facts (in part) by mathematical facts. Using a structural-equation framework, we model impossible perturbations to mathematics and the resulting differences made to physical explananda in two important cases of extra-mathematical explanation. We then address some objections to our approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophers Imprint
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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