On the Application of the Honeycomb Conjecture to the Bee’s Honeycomb

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Philosophia Mathematica, Vol: 21, Issue: 3, Page: 351-360

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Räz, Tim
Oxford University Press
article description
In a recent paper, Aidan Lyon and Mark Colyvan have proposed an explanation of the structure of the bee’s honeycomb based on the mathematical Honeycomb Conjecture. This explanation has instantly become one of the standard examples in the philosophical debate on mathematical explanations of physical phenomena. In this critical note, I argue that the explanation is not scientifically adequate. The reason for this is that the explanation fails to do justice to the essentially three-dimensional structure of the bee’s honeycomb.