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# Mathematical Explanation

DOI link for Mathematical Explanation

Mathematical Explanation book

# Mathematical Explanation

DOI link for Mathematical Explanation

Mathematical Explanation book

## ABSTRACT

If cicadas courted with verse, as any subtle suitor should, we might expect something like this from these patient insects:

It takes seventeen long years before cicadas hear “Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near” and so get down to the business of biology. Why the delayed gratifi cation? According to some biologists and philosophers, the fact that seventeen is a prime number has much to do with it. In short, they say, mathematics explains this remarkable biological phenomenon. It is not the whole explanation; biological ingredients are needed, too. But facts about prime numbers play an essential role, and there would be no proper explanation at all without those mathematical facts. At least, that is the claim made by a number of philosophers of mathematics, starting with Alan Baker (Baker 2005, Colyvan 2001, 2003).