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De Finetti on the dangers of mathematization

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De Finetti on the dangers of mathematization Let us bear in mind …that everything is based on distinctions which are themselves uncertain and vague, and which we conventionally translate into terms of certainty only because of the logical formulation … In the mathematical formulation of any problem it is necessary to base oneself on some appropriate idealizations and simplification. This is, however, a disadvantage; it is a distorting factor which one should always try to keep in check, and to approach circumspectly. It is unfortunate that the reverse often happens. One loses sight of the original nature of the problem, falls in love with the idealization, and then blames reality for not conforming to it.

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De Finetti on the dangers of mathematization

De Finetti on the dangers of mathematizationLet us bear in mind …that everything is based on distinctions which are themselves uncertain and vague, and which we conventionally translate into terms of certainty only because of the logical formulation … In the mathematical formulation of any problem it is necessary to base oneself on some appropriate idealizations and simplification. This is, however, a disadvantage; it is a distorting factor which one should always try to keep in check, and to approach circumspectly. It is unfortunate that the reverse often happens. One loses sight of the original nature of the problem, falls in love with the idealization, and then blames reality for not conforming to it.

Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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