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The effectiveness of mathematics in physics

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posted on 01.03.2017, 00:51 by McDonnell, Jane Frances
In this thesis I argue that many problems in the philosophy of science and mathematics (in particular, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics) can only be addressed within a broader metaphysical framework which provides a coherent world view. I attempt to develop such a framework and draw out its consequences. The attempt is in two parts: first, I develop a speculative framework based on an analogy to set theory; then I combine elements of the framework with ideas from Leibnizian monadology and consistent histories quantum theory to introduce (what I call) quantum monadology. The two parts focus on different aspects of the problem and should be viewed as stages on the way to a final formulation. The inspiration for the thesis came from Plato’s Timaeus and Wigner’s comments on quantum mechanics. As it turned out, Leibniz’s Monadology became a third key source.


Principal supervisor

Graham Oppy

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Philosophy, History and International Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts