The specific characteristics of mathematical argumentation all depend on the centrality that writing has in the practice of mathematics, but blindness to this fact is near universal. What follows concerns just one of those characteristics, justification by proof. There is a prevalent view that long proofs pose a problem for the thesis that mathematical knowledge is justified by proof. I argue that there is no such problem: in fact, virtually all the justifications of mathematical knowledge are ‘…

Read moreThe specific characteristics of mathematical argumentation all depend on the centrality that writing has in the practice of mathematics, but blindness to this fact is near universal. What follows concerns just one of those characteristics, justification by proof. There is a prevalent view that long proofs pose a problem for the thesis that mathematical knowledge is justified by proof. I argue that there is no such problem: in fact, virtually all the justifications of mathematical knowledge are ‘long proofs’, but because these real justifications are distributed in the written archive of mathematics, proofs remain surveyable, hence good.