# Mathematical Explanation In Biology

## Document Type

Book Chapter

## Publication Date

2015

## Published In

Explanation In Biology: An Enquiry Into The Diversity Of Explanatory Patterns In The Life Sciences

## Series Title

History, Philosophy And Theory Of The Life Sciences

## Abstract

Biology has proved to be a rich source of examples in which mathematics plays a role in explaining some physical phenomena. In this paper, two examples from evolutionary biology, one involving periodical cicadas and one involving bee honeycomb, are examined in detail. I discuss the use of such examples to defend platonism about mathematical objects, and then go on to distinguish several different varieties of mathematical explanation in biology. I also connect these discussions to issues concerning generality in biological explanation, and to the question of how to pick out which mathematical properties are explanatorily relevant.

## Keywords

Mathematical explanation, Biology, Indispensability, Optimization

## Published By

Springer Netherlands

## Editor(s)

P.-A. Braillard And C. Malaterre

## Recommended Citation

Alan Richard Baker.
(2015).
"Mathematical Explanation In Biology".
*Explanation In Biology: An Enquiry Into The Diversity Of Explanatory Patterns In The Life Sciences.*
Volume 11,
229-247.
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9822-8_10

https://works.swarthmore.edu/fac-philosophy/374