Can Proofs by Mathematical Induction Be Explanatory?

  • Josephine SalverdaEmail author
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 334)


In this paper I discuss Marc Lange’s argument for the claim that inductive proofs can never be explanatory. I show that several of the assumptions on which Lange’s argument relies are problematic, and I argue that there are cases of explanatory inductive proof, providing a number of examples to back up my claim. I finish with a positive proposal on which the examples I put forward can be accounted for by Lange’s own account of mathematical explanation.



I would like to thank audiences in Cambridge, Chieti, London and Umeå for stimulating and helpful discussion. Particular thanks are due to Luke Fenton-Glynn and Marcus Giaquinto for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the paper. I worked on the paper while I was supported by grants from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and then the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Jacobsen Trust; my thanks to both institutions.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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