The Königsberg bridge problem has played a central role in recent philosophical discussions of mathematical explanation. In this paper I look at it from a novel perspective, which is independent of explanatory concerns. Instead of restricting attention to the solved Königsberg bridge problem, I consider Euler’s construction of a solution method for the problem and discuss two later integrations of Euler’s approach into a more structured methodology, arisen in operations research and genetics respectively. By examining Euler’s work and its later developments, I achieve two main goals. First, I offer an analysis of the role played by mathematics as a problem-solving instrument within scientific enquiry. Second, I shed light on the broader significance of well known contributions to the debate on mathematical explanation. I suggest that these contributions, which are tied to a localised explanatory context, achieve a greater relevance and attain a sharper formulation when they are referred to scientific enquiry at large, as opposed to its possible explanatory outcomes alone.
May 5, 2022 at 04:21PM