Explanation and understanding within mathematics

December 5, 2019 - December 6, 2019
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Rue Ducale 1
Brussel 1000

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Vrije Universiteit Brussel

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The Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science (CLPS) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) will host a workshop on explanation and understanding within mathematics on December 5-6 2019.

Invited speakers

Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Victor Gijsbers (Leiden Universiteit)

Matthew Inglis (Loughborough University)

Theme of the workshop

During this workshop speakers will present various philosophical perspectives on explanation and understanding within mathematics. By doing so we aim to further unravel these important notions in the philosophy of mathematics.

Explanation and understanding are central topics in the philosophy of science. This discipline has made important developments to account for the role explanations play in scientific activities. A current trend is that philosophers emphasize the relation between explanation and understanding, and stress the need for theories of scientific understanding.

Initially, explanation in the field of mathematics received less attention and remained a puzzling notion. The view that mathematicians can be interested in more than the mere justification of mathematical results led to a small yet growing line of research on mathematical explanation.  In recent decades philosophers of mathematics mainly looked into what it means that a proof provides an explanation. Besides explanatory proofs, however, there might be other types of explanation within mathematics. Additionally, still too little attention goes to the notion of mathematical understanding.

For this workshop we invite submissions that address questions concerning explanation and understanding within mathematics. Topics include, but are not limited to, philosophical perspectives on:

  • Explanatory proofs

  • Mathematical explanation beyond proof

  • Mathematical understanding

  • The relation between mathematical explanation and understanding

  • Case studies from the practice or history of mathematics

  • Fruitfulness of accounts of scientific explanation/understanding in philosophy of mathematics


Local organizer: Joachim Frans

Scientific Committee: Patrick Allo, Jeremy Avigad, Alan Baker, Joachim Frans,  Karen François, Bert Leuridan, Jean Paul Van Bendegem, Bart Van Kerkhove, Erik Weber

Attendance Fees and Registration

We ask people to register by November, 1st. The registration cost is 50 euro, to be paid upon arrival. If you are planning to attend the workshop, please register by sending an email to: [email protected].

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October 31, 2019, 8:00pm CET

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