Empiricism, Contigency and Evolutionary Metaphors: Getting Beyond the "Math Wars"
Kurt Stemhagen
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This article provides a philosophical conceptualization of mathematics given the particular tasks of its teaching and learning. A central claim is that mathematics is a discipline that has been largely untouched by the Darwinian revolution; it is a last bastion of certainty. Consequently, mathematics educators are forced to draw on overly absolutist or constructivist accounts of the discipline. The resulting “math wars” often impede genuine reform. I suggest adopting an evolutionary metaphor to help explain the epistemology/nature of mathematics. In order to use this evolutionary metaphor to its fullest effect in overcoming the polarization of the math wars, mathematical empiricism is presented as a means of constraint on the development of mathematics. This article sketches what an evolutionary philosophy of mathematics might look like and provides a detailed descriptive account of mathematical empiricism and its potential role in this novel way of thinking about mathematical enterprises.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

INT ELECT J MATH ED, 2007, Volume 2, Issue 2, 91-105


Publication date: 06 Jul 2007

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