Are There Genuine Physical Explanations of Mathematical Phenomena?

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The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0007-0882, Vol: 66, Issue: 1, Page: 69-93

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Skow, Bradford
Oxford University Press (OUP); Oxford University Press
Arts and Humanities
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article description
There are lotsofarguments for, orjustifications of, mathematical theorems that make use of principles from physics. Do any of these constitute explanations? On the one hand, physical principles do not seem like they should be explanatorily relevant; on the other, some particular examples of physical justifications do look explanatory. In this article, I defend the idea that (some) physical justifications can and do explain mathematical facts.