[Next Workshop] Mathematics as/in Science


Dates: 8-10 December 2021

Organization: the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science (Ghent University)

Workshop chairs:  Erik Weber & Karim Zahidi.

Local organising team:  Kristian Gonzalez Barman, Karina Makhnev, Pawel Pawlowski, Erik Weber & Karim Zahidi.


The relationship between mathematics and science continues to be of considerable philosophical interest. Within contemporary philosophy of science, for example, pinpointing the exact role of mathematics in the sciences remains a hotly debated issue. Does mathematics play a mere inferential role in that it allows for the derivations of one substantial truth from another or is mathematics more than a ‘theoretical juice-extractor’? Are there distinctive mathematical explanations of physical phenomena? Similar questions can be asked about the role of logic in science.

These issues connect with discussions within the philosophy of mathematics (and the philosophy of logic) concerning the nature of mathematics (or logic). Within the philosophy of mathematics, Platonists, nominalists and structuralists consider mathematics to be fundamentally different in kind from empirical science, while empiricists have argued that mathematics is, just like other sciences, fundamentally about aspects of the empirical world. Different positions within the debate about the nature of mathematics will, arguably, lead to different answers to the question as to how mathematics and science are related.

In this workshop we want to focus on how these different philosophies of mathematics fare in giving an account of mathematical practice and the role of mathematics in scientific practice.

Examples of topics of interest therefore include (but are not restricted to):

– How do we get mathematical knowledge?

– What is the role of sensory perception in mathematics?

– Can there be mathematical experiments? If so, how do they relate to experiments in other disciplines?

– What is (are) the role(s) of proof in mathematics?

– What is the epistemic role of mathematical communities (dependence, peer review, joint commitments, …)?

– Are there explanations in mathematics? Are mathematical explanations similar to scientific explanations?

– Are there distinctively mathematical explanations in science?

– What is the role of aesthetic virtues (beauty, symmetry, simplicity, …) in mathematical practice?

– What role does mathematics play in empirical science?

– Does empirical science play any role in mathematics?

– How can mathematics be successfully applied in empirical science and engineering?

We welcome contributions that approach these (and related) topics either from a systematic or a historic angle. In other words, we welcome contributions that elaborate and defend your own position, but also contributions that discuss the views that philosophers and scientists had on these topics in the past.

Keynote speakers

Valeria Giardino (Institut Jean Nicod – Paris)

Victor Gijsbers (Leiden University)

Abstract submission

We welcome submissions on any topic that fits into the scope as described above. Send your abstract of 300 to 500 words to: lrr@ugent.be before 18 October 2021. Notification of acceptance: 25 October 2021.


Day 1 (Wednesday 8 December)

Day 2 (Thursday 9 December)

Day 3 (Friday 10 December)


Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature (KANTL), Koningstraat 18, Ghent, Belgium.


Registration will be possible from 1 November. The registration fee is 50€ and has to be paid in cash at the registration desk. Coffee, lunches and the workshop dinner are included in this fee.

Book of abstracts