Gray, Jeremy (Author)

Interdisciplinary Science Reviews

Volume: 36, no. 3

Issue: 3

Pages: 214-228

Publication Date: 2011

Edition Details: Lead article in special issue, “Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics”

Language: English

Edition Details: Lead article in special issue, “Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics”

Language: English

I am going to argue that one unfortunate problem with Wigner's paper is its pervasive vagueness, indicate some of the problems this vagueness causes, and then analyse the problem on largely historical grounds insofar as we can see what it is. I will conclude that the paper does not help with the questions of what it means for physics to have laws and how we can know them, and I shall argue on historical grounds that the effectiveness of mathematics in physics may be less unreasonable than Wigner suggested but still be a profitable matter for investigation.

...MoreDescription On a 1960 paper by Eugene Wigner on the relationship between mathematics and the physical sciences. Contents:

Includes Series Articles

Article
Lützen, Jesper
(2011)
The Physical Origin of Physically Useful Mathematics.
*Interdisciplinary Science Reviews*
(pp. 229-243).

Article
Suppes, Patrick
(2011)
Why the Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences Is Not Surprising.
*Interdisciplinary Science Reviews*
(pp. 244-254).

Article
Baker, Alan
(2011)
Explaining the Applicability of Mathematics in Science.
*Interdisciplinary Science Reviews*
(pp. 255-267).

Citation URI

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Quale, Andreas;
(2011)

On the Role of Mathematics in Physics
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Applicability, Indispensability, and Underdetermination: Puzzling Over Wigner's “Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics”
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Wigner's “Polanyian” Epistemology and the Measurement Problem: The Wigner--Polanyi Dialog on Tacit Knowledge
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Converging Realities: Toward a Common Philosophy of Physics and Mathematics
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Eugene P. Wigner and His Hungarian Teachers
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The Advantages of Bringing Infinity to a Finite Place: Penrose Diagrams as Objects of Intuition
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Freire, Olival, Jr.;
De Greiff, Alexis;
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The Tausk Controversy on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics: Physics, Philosophy, and Politics
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Chapter
Kuusk, Piret;
(2001)

Physical Reality, Theoretical Physics, and Mathematics
(/isis/citation/CBB000102692/)

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Huggett, Nick;
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What Did Newton Mean by “Absolute Motion”?
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Book
Brown, James Robert;
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(/isis/citation/CBB001500158/)

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Adele La Rana;
Paolo Rossi;
(2020)

Masters and students in Italian Physics between the 19th and 20th centuries: the Felici-Bartoli-Stracciati-Corbino case
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Article
Davey, Kevin;
(2003)

Is Mathematical Rigor Necessary in Physics?
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Article
Echelbarger, Charles;
(2013)

Hume on the Objects of Mathematics
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Rigden, John S.;
Stuewer, Roger H.;
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Understanding of Quantum Mechanics Eludes Physicists for Eighty-Six Years
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Article
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French, Steven;
Ladyman, James;
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On Representing the Relationship between the Mathematical and the Empirical
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What Did Mathematics Do to Physics?
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Article
Liu, Hua-qiu;
Guo, Jin-bin;
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