Zoom Workshop: Science Without Numbers, 40 Years Later

November 5, 2020 - November 6, 2020

This event is online


University of California, San Diego
University of Sydney
New York University
Indiana University, Bloomington
University of York
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


University of California at Santa Barbara
University of California, San Diego

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Hartry Field's Science Without Numbers (Princeton University Press) was published in 1980. Since then it has become one of the most influential works in the philosophy of mathematics. It contains an original defense of mathematical nominalism, the thesis that mathematical objects such as numbers, functions, and sets do not exist, and a response to the indispensability argument that aims to show that we should believe in mathematical objects because they are indispensable to our successful scientific theories. Field's defense rests on an ingenious and ambitious project of reformulating physical theories in such a way that they no longer refer to mathematical objects at all. Over the last 40 years, the book has produced a large body of literature and its influence can be felt in several subfields of philosophy. 

This workshop aims to provide an opportunity to discuss Field's program in light of recent developments in philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of physics, philosophy of logic, and metaphysics. 

(An earlier version of the workshop was scheduled as a symposium session at the 2020 Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association. It was cancelled due to COVID-19.) 


This event will be held on Zoom.

The meeting ID and password will be shared with only those who register. 

There is no registration fee to attend. Please register at the conference website:


Each talk will be about 30 minutes, followed by 25 minutes of discussion.

Organizers: Thomas Barrett (UC Santa Barbara) and Eddy Keming Chen (UC San Diego). 

For more information, please email [email protected] 

Conference Program

Note: all times are in Eastern Standard Time (New York time)

November 5, 2020

2:45-3:00 pm Welcome (organizers)

3:00-4:00 pm Mark Colyvan (University of Sydney). "The Explanatory Turn in the Philosophy of Mathematics"

4:00-5:00 pm Mary Leng (University of York). "Science - or Mathematics - Without Numbers?"

5-5:30pm Open discussion

November 6, 2020

3:00-4:00pm Eddy Keming Chen (University of California, San Diego). "Varieties of Intrinsicality"

4:00-5:00pm Vera Flocke (Indiana University Bloomington). "Carnap’s Defense of Quantified Modal Logic"

5:00-6:00pm Stephen Yablo (MIT). "Two Roads Diverged: Why Was One Harder?"

6-6:30pm Open discussion

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November 3, 2020, 4:00am PST

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University of New South Wales
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