Math Worlds

Philosophical and Social Studies of Mathematics and Mathematics Education

Edited by Sal Restivo, Jean Paul Van Bendegem, and Roland Fischer

Subjects: Science And Society
Series: SUNY series in Science, Technology, and Society
Paperback : 9780791413302, 292 pages, March 1993
Hardcover : 9780791413296, 292 pages, April 1993

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Table of contents


1. The Promethean Task of Bringing Mathematics to Earth
Sal Restivo


2. Foundations of Mathematics or Mathematical Practice: Is One Forced to Choose?
Jean Paul Van Bendegem

3. A Naturalized Epistemology for a Platonist Mathematical Ontology
Michael D. Resnik

4. Mathematical Skepticism: Are We Brains in a Countable Vat?
Thomas Tymoczko

5. Philosophical Problems of Mathematics in the Light of Evolutionary Epistemology
Yehuda Rav


6. Mathematics as a Means and as a System
Roland Fischer

7. Reflections on the Foundations of Research on Women and Mathematics
Helga Jungwirth

8. Politicizing the Mathematics Classroom
Nel Noddings

9. The Dialogical Nature of Reflective Knowledge
Ole Skovsmose

10. Applied Mathematics as Social Contract
Philip J. Davis


11. Mathematics and Social Change
Roland Fischer

12. The Social System of Mathematics and National Socialism: A Survey
Herbert Mehrtens

13. The Social Life of Mathematics
Sal Restivo


Subject Index

Name Index


An international group of distinguished scholars brings a variety of resources to bear on the major issues in the study and teaching of mathematics, and on the problem of understanding mathematics as a cultural and social phenomenon. All are guided by the notion that our understanding of mathematical knowledge must be grounded in and reflect the realities of mathematical practice.

Chapters on the philosophy of mathematics illustrate the growing influence of a pragmatic view in a field traditionally dominated by platonic perspectives. In a section on mathematics, politics, and pedagogy, the emphasis is on politics and values in mathematics education. Issues addressed include gender and mathematics, applied mathematics and social concerns, and the reflective and dialogical nature of mathematical knowledge. The concluding section deals with the history and sociology of mathematics, and with mathematics and social change. Contributors include Philip J. Davis, Helga Jungwirth, Nel Noddings, Yehuda Rav, Michael D. Resnik, Ole Skovsmose, and Thomas Tymoczko.

Sal Restivo is Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the author of The Social Relations of Physics, Mysticism, and Mathematics; The Sociological Worldview; Mathematics in Society and History; and Science, Society, and Values: Toward a Sociology of Objectivity. Jean Paul Van Bendegem is Professor of Philosophy and Logic at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, and editor of the journal Philosophica. He is the author of Finite, Empirical Mathematics: Outline of a Model, and co-editor of Theory and Experiment. Roland Fischer is University Professor of Mathematics at Interuniversitares Forschungsinstitut fur Ferstudien in Klagenfurt, Austria. He is co-author of Mensch und Mathematik, and founder of the Journal of Mathematik-Didaktik.


"Philosophy of mathematics has become a major area of interest for philosophers and historians of ideas in the last few years; and the swing has been toward examining the social context and processes involved in mathematics rather than taking it as a transcendent body of truths. This book is very up to date in this respect. It will prove to be the cutting-edge statement on the sociological approach to mathematics on both philosophical and theoretical issues, and it sets a new goal for reforming mathematical education. " — Randall Collins, University of California, Riverside