Who should pay for mathematics? (a cartoon version)

Here’s an excellent cartoon version of what Steven Shapin calls the “Golden Goose” argument:  pure research, in mathematics as in other scientific disciplines, should be supported because it brings unexpected and unpredictable benefits.

There is nothing wrong with the argument.  But there is still a gap to be bridged between the motivation to work in pure mathematics and hypothetical possible applications (not all of which are necessarily desirable); and neither the cartoon nor the “Golden Goose” argument answers the question “Who should pay?”

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One thought on “Who should pay for mathematics? (a cartoon version)

  1. Pingback: Revolting taxpayers finger math hedonists | Mathematics without Apologies, by Michael Harris

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