Bipedal Gait Costs: A New Case Study Of Mathematical Explanation In Science

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

European Journal Of Philosophy Of Science


In this paper I present a case study of mathematical explanation in science that is new to the philosophical literature, and that arises in the context of estimating the energetic costs of running in bipedal animals. I refer to this as the Bipedal Gait Costs explanation (BGC). I argue that it is important for examples of applied mathematics to be driven not just by philosophical and mathematical concerns but also by scientific concerns. After a detailed presentation of the BGC case study, I discuss ways in which it is different from standard examples of MES. One distinctive aspect of BGC is that substantive mathematics occurs at two different levels. I argue for a distinction to be drawn between the mathematical modeling that occurs at one level, which is non-explanatory, and the mathematical theorem which is applied to results gleaned from these models, which is explanatory. I conclude by drawing some connections with broader indispensability-based arguments for platonism in the philosophy of mathematics.


Mathematical explanation, Indispensability, Platonism

This document is currently not available here.