This paper concerns what Jerry Fodor calls a 'metaphysical mystery': How can there by macroregularities that are realized by wildly heterogeneous lower level mechanisms? But the answer to this question is not as mysterious as many, including Jaegwon Kim, Ned Block, and Jerry Fodor might think. The multiple realizability of the properties of the special sciences such as psychology is best understood as a kind of universality, where 'universality' is used in the technical sense one finds in the physics literature. (...) It is argued that the same explanatory strategy used by physicists to provide understanding of universal behavior in physics can be used to explain how special science properties can be heterogeneously multiply realized. (shrink)
Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across disciplines.
This paper examines the role of mathematical idealization in describing and explaining various features of the world. It examines two cases: first, briefly, the modeling of shock formation using the idealization of the continuum. Second, and in more detail, the breaking of droplets from the points of view of both analytic fluid mechanics and molecular dynamical simulations at the nano-level. It argues that the continuum idealizations are explanatorily ineliminable and that a full understanding of certain physical phenomena cannot be obtained (...) through completely detailed, non-idealized representations. (shrink)
This paper examines contemporary attempts to explicate the explanatory role of mathematics in the physical sciences. Most such approaches involve developing so-called mapping accounts of the relationships between the physical world and mathematical structures. The paper argues that the use of idealizations in physical theorizing poses serious difficulties for such mapping accounts. A new approach to the applicability of mathematics is proposed.
This paper looks at emergence in physical theories and argues that an appropriate way to understand socalled “emergent protectorates” is via the explanatory apparatus of the renormalization group. It is argued that mathematical singularities play a crucial role in our understanding of at least some well-defined emergent features of the world.
This paper discusses the alleged reduction of Thermodynamics to Statistical Mechanics. It includes an historical discussion of J. Willard Gibbs' famous caution concerning the connections between thermodynamic properties and statistical mechanical properties---his so-called ``Thermodynamic Analogies.'' The reasons for Gibbs' caution are reconsidered in light of relatively recent work in statistical physics on the existence of the thermodynamic limit and the explanation of critical behavior using the renormalization group apparatus. A probabilistic understanding of the renormalization group arguments allows for a kind (...) of unification of Gibbs' approach with contemporary understanding of the reduction problem. (shrink)
I respond to Belot's argument and defend the view that sometimes `fundamental theories' are explanatorily inadequate and need to be supplemented with certain aspects of less fundamental `theories emeritus'.
This paper addresses a relatively common scientific (as opposed to philosophical) conception of intertheoretic reduction between physical theories. This is the sense of reduction in which one (typically newer and more refined) theory is said to reduce to another (typically older and coarser) theory in the limit as some small parameter tends to zero. Three examples of such reductions are discussed: First, the reduction of Special Relativity (SR) to Newtonian Mechanics (NM) as (v/c)20; second, the reduction of wave optics to (...) geometrical optics as 0; and third, the reduction of Quantum Mechanics (QM) to Classical Mechanics (CM) as0. I argue for the following two claims. First, the case of SR reducing to NM is an instance of a genuine reductive relationship while the latter two cases are not. The reason for this concerns the nature of the limiting relationships between the theory pairs. In the SR/NM case, it is possible to consider SR as a regular perturbation of NM; whereas in the cases of wave and geometrical optics and QM/CM, the perturbation problem is singular. The second claim I wish to support is that as a result of the singular nature of the limits between these theory pairs, it is reasonable to maintain that third theories exist describing the asymptotic limiting domains. In the optics case, such a theory has been called catastrophe optics. In the QM/CM case, it is semiclassical mechanics. Aspects of both theories are discussed in some detail. (shrink)
This paper attempts to address the problem of the applicability of mathematics in physics by considering the (narrower) question of what make the so-called special functions of mathematical physics special. It surveys a number of answers to this question and argues that neither simple pragmatic answers, nor purely mathematical classificatory schemes are sufficient. What is required is some connection between the world and the way investigators are forced to represent the world.
This paper addresses issues surrounding the concept of geometric phase or "anholonomy". Certain physical phenomena apparently require for their explanation and understanding, reference to toplogocial/geometric features of some abstract space of parameters. These issues are related to the question of how gauge structures are to be interpreted and whether or not the debate over their "reality" is really going to be fruitful.
This paper considers definitions of classical dynamical chaos that focus primarily on notions of predictability and computability, sometimes called algorithmic complexity definitions of chaos. I argue that accounts of this type are seriously flawed. They focus on a likely consequence of chaos, namely, randomness in behavior which gets characterized in terms of the unpredictability or uncomputability of final given initial states. In doing so, however, they can overlook the definitive feature of dynamical chaos--the fact that the underlying motion generating the (...) behavior exhibits extreme trajectory instability. I formulate a simple criterion of adequacy for any definition of chaos and show how such accounts fail to satisfy it. (shrink)
This paper concerns the scale related decoupling of the physics of breaking drops and considers the phenomenon from the point of view of both hydrodynamics and molecular dynamics at the nanolevel. It takes the shape of droplets at breakup to be an example of a genuinely emergent phenomenon---one whose explanation depends essentially on the phenomenological (non-fundamental) theory of Navier-Stokes. Certain conclusions about the nature of "fundamental" theory are drawn.
This paper considers the relationship between continuum hydrodynamics and discrete molecular dynamics in the context of explaining the behavior of breaking droplets. It is argued that the idealization of a fluid as a continuum is actually essential for a full explanation of the drop breaking phenomenon and that, therefore, the less "fundamental," emergent hydrodynamical theory plays an ineliminable role in our understanding.
Discussions of the foundations of Classical Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics (SM) typically focus on the problem of justifying the use of a certain probability measure (the microcanonical measure) to compute average values of certain functions. One would like to be able to explain why the equilibrium behavior of a wide variety of distinct systems (different sorts of molecules interacting with different potentials) can be described by the same averaging procedure. A standard approach is to appeal to ergodic theory to justify this (...) choice of measure. A different approach, eschewing ergodicity, was initiated by A. I. Khinchin. Both explanatory programs have been subjected to severe criticisms. This paper argues that the Khinchin type program deserves further attention in light of relatively recent results in understanding the physics of universal behavior. (shrink)
A traditional view of mathematical modeling holds, roughly, that the more details of the phenomenon being modeled that are represented in the model, the better the model is. This paper argues that often times this ‘details is better’ approach is misguided. One ought, in certain circumstances, to search for an exactly solvable minimal model—one which is, essentially, a caricature of the physics of the phenomenon in question.
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics are related to one another through the so-called "thermodynamic limit'' in which, roughly speaking the number of particles becomes infinite. At critical points (places of physical discontinuity) this limit fails to be regular. As a result, the "reduction'' of Thermodynamics to Statistical Mechanics fails to hold at such critical phases. This fact is key to understanding an argument due to Craig Callender to the effect that the thermodynamic limit leads to mistakes in Statistical Mechanics. I discuss (...) this argument and argue that the conclusion is misguided. In addition, I discuss an analogous example where a genuine physical discontinuity---the breaking of drops---requires the use of infinite idealizations. (shrink)
Game theoretic explanations of the evolution of human behavior have become increasingly widespread. At their best, they allow us to abstract from misleading particulars in order to better recognize and appreciate broad patterns in the phenomena of human social life. We discuss this explanatory strategy, contrasting it with the particularist methodology of contemporary evolutionary psychology. We introduce some guidelines for the assessment of evolutionary game theoretic explanations of human behavior: such explanations should be representative, robust, and flexible. Distinguishing these features (...) sharply can help to clarify the import and accuracy of game theorists' claims about the robustness and stability of their explanatory schemes. Our central example is the work of Brian Skyrms, who offers a game theoretic account of the evolution of our sense of justice. Modeling the same Nash game as Skyrms, we show that, while Skyrms' account is robust with respect to certain kinds of variation, it fares less well in other respects. (shrink)
This article attempts to address the problem of the applicability of mathematics in physics by considering the (narrower) question of what make the so-called special functions of mathematical physics special. It surveys a number of answers to this question and argues that neither simple pragmatic answers, nor purely mathematical classificatory schemes are sufficient. What is required is some connection between the world and the way investigators are forced to represent the world.
I discuss recent work in ergodic theory and statistical mechanics, regarding the compatibility and origin of random and chaotic behavior in deterministic dynamical systems. A detailed critique of some quite radical proposals of the Prigogine school is given. I argue that their conclusion regarding the conceptual bankruptcy of the classical conceptions of an exact microstate and unique phase space trajectory is not completely justified. The analogy they want to draw with quantum mechanics is not sufficiently close to support their most (...) radical conclusion. (shrink)
I discuss a broad critique of the classical approach to the foundations of statistical mechanics (SM) offered by N. S. Krylov. He claims that the classical approach is in principle incapable of providing the foundations for interpreting the "laws" of statistical physics. Most intriguing are his arguments against adopting a de facto attitude towards the problem of irreversibility. I argue that the best way to understand his critique is as setting the stage for a positive theory which treats SM as (...) a theory in its own right, involving a completely different conception of a system's state. As the orthodox approach treats SM as an extension of the classical or quantum theories (one which deals with large systems), Krylov is advocating a major break with the traditional view of statistical physics. (shrink)
This paper discusses the problem of finding and defining chaos in quantum mechanics. While chaotic time evolution appears to be ubiquitous in classical mechanics, it is apparently (...) absent in quantum mechanics in part because for a bound, isolated quantum system, the evolution of its state is multiply periodic. This has led a number of investigators to search for semiclassical signatures of chaos. Here I am concerned with the status of semiclassical mechanics as a distinct third theory of the asymptotic domain between classical and quantum mechanics. I discuss in some detail the meaning of such crucial locutions as the "classical counterpart to a quantum system" and a quantum system's "underlying classical motion". A proper elucidation of these concepts requires a semiclassical association between phase space surfaces and wave-functions. This significance of this association is discussed in some detail. (shrink)
Our aim is to discover whether the notion of algorithmic orbit-complexity can serve to define “chaos” in a dynamical system. We begin with a mostly expository discussion of algorithmic complexity and certain results of Brudno, Pesin, and Ruelle (BRP theorems) which relate the degree of exponential instability of a dynamical system to the average algorithmic complexity of its orbits. When one speaks of predicting the behavior of a dynamical system, one usually has in mind one or more variables in the (...) phase space that are of particular interest. To say that the system is unpredictable is, roughly, to say that one cannot feasibly determine future values of these variables from an approximation of the initial conditions of the system. We introduce the notions of restrictedexponential instability and conditionalorbit-complexity, and announce a new and rather general result, similar in spirit to the BRP theorems, establishing average conditional orbit-complexity as a lower bound for the degree of restricted exponential instability in a dynamical system. The BRP theorems require the phase space to be compact and metrizable. We construct a noncompact kicked rotor dynamical system of physical interest, and show that the relationship between orbit-complexity and exponential instability fails to hold for this system. We conclude that orbit-complexity cannot serve as a general definition of “chaos.”. (shrink)
This discussion note of (Batterman ) clarifies the modest aims of my 'mapping account' of applications of mathematics in science. Once these aims are clarified it becomes clear that Batterman's 'completely new approach' (Batterman , p. 24) is not needed to make sense of his cases of idealized mathematical explanations. Instead, a positive proposal for the explanatory power of such cases can be reconciled with the mapping account.
I argue that the distinctions Robert Batterman (2004) presents between ‘epistemically fundamental’ versus ‘ontologically fundamental’ theoretical approaches can be subsumed by methodologically fundamental procedures. I characterize precisely what is meant by a methodologically fundamental procedure, which involves, among other things, the use of multilinear graded algebras in a theory’s formalism. For example, one such class of algebras I discuss are the Clifford (or Geometric) algebras. Aside from their being touted by many as a “unified mathematical language for physics,” (Hestenes (...) (1984, 1986) Lasenby, et. al. (2000)) Finkelstein (2001, 2004) and others have demonstrated that the techniques of multilinear algebraic ‘expansion and contraction’ exhibit a robust regularizablilty. That is to say, such regularization has been demonstrated to remove singularities, which would otherwise appear in standard field-theoretic, mathematical characterizations of a physical theory. I claim that the existence of such methodologically fundamental procedures calls into question one of Batterman’s central points, that “our explanatory physical practice demands that we appeal essentially to (infinite) idealizations” (2003, 7) exhibited, for example, by singularities in the case of modeling critical phenomena, like fluid droplet formation. By way of counterexample, in the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), I discuss the work of Mann & Rockwood (2003) and Gerik Scheuermann, (2002). In the concluding section, I sketch a methodologically fundamental procedure potentially applicable to more general classes of critical phenomena appearing in fluid dynamics. (shrink)
The notion of emergence has received much renewed attention recently. Most of the authors I review (§ II), including most notably Robert Batterman (2002, 2003, 2004) share the common aim of providing accounts for emergence which offer fresh insights from highly articulated and nuanced views reflecting recent developments in applied physics. Moreover, the authors present such accounts to reveal what they consider as misrepresentative and oversimplified abstractions often depicted in standard philosophical accounts. With primary focus on Batterman, however, (...) I show (in § III), that despite (or perhaps because of) such novel and compelling insights; underlying thematic tensions and ambiguities persist nevertheless, due to subtle reifications made of particular (albeit central) mathematical methods employed in asymptotic analysis. I offer a potential candidate (in § IV), for regularization advanced by the theoretical physicist David Finkelstein (1996, 2002, 2004). The richly characterized multilinear algebraic theories employed by Finkelstein would, for instance, serve the two-fold purpose of clearing up much of the inevitably “epistemological emergence” accompanying divergent limiting cases treated in the standard approaches, while at the same time characterize in relatively greater detail the “ontological emergence” of particular quantum phenomena under study. Among other things, this suggests that the some of the structures suggested by Batterman as essentially involving the superseded theory are better understood as regular algebraic contraction (Finkelstein). Because of the regularization latent in such powerful multilinear algebraic methods, among other things this calls into question Batterman’s claims that explanation and reduction should be kept separate, in instances involving singular limits. (§ V). (shrink)
The nonlinearity of a composite system, whereby certain of its features (including powers and behaviors) cannot be seen as linear or other broadly additive combinations of features of the system's composing entities, has been frequently seen as a mark of metaphysical emergence, coupling the dependence of a composite system on an underlying system of composing entities with the composite system's ontological autonomy from its underlying system. But why think that nonlinearity is a mark of emergence, and moreover, of metaphysical rather (...) than merely epistemological emergence? Are there diverse ways in which nonlinearity might enter into an account of properly metaphysical emergence? And what are the prospects for there actually being phenomena that are metaphysically emergent in any available sense? Here I explore the mutual bearing of nonlinearity and metaphysical emergence, with an eye towards answering these and related questions. (shrink)
Batterman () raises a number of concerns for the inferential conception of the applicability of mathematics advocated by Bueno and Colyvan (). Here, we distinguish the various concerns, and indicate how they can be assuaged by paying attention to the nature of the mappings involved and emphasizing the significance of interpretation in this context. We also indicate how this conception can accommodate the examples that Batterman draws upon in his critique. Our conclusion is that ‘asymptotic reasoning’ can be (...) straightforwardly accommodated within the inferential conception. 1 Introduction2 Immersion, Inference and Partial Structures3 Idealization and Surplus Structure4 Renormalization and the Stability of Mathematical Representations5 Explanation and Eliminability6 Requirements for Explanation7 Interpretation and Idealization8 Explanation, Empirical Regularities and the Inferential Conception9 Conclusion. (shrink)
All the major inter-theoretic relations of fundamental science are asymptotic ones, e.g. quantum theory as Planck's constant h 0, yielding (roughly) Newtonian mechanics. Thus asymptotics ultimately grounds claims about inter-theoretic explanation, reduction and emergence. This paper examines four recent, central claims by Batterman concerning asymptotics and reduction. While these claims are criticised, the discussion is used to develop an enriched, dynamically-based account of reduction and emergence, to show its capacity to illuminate the complex variety of inter-theory relationships in physics, (...) and to provide a principled resolution to such persistent philosophical problems as multiple realisability and the nature of the special sciences. Introduction Exposition Examination I: Claims (1) and (2), asymptotic explanation and reference Examination II: Claim (3), reduction and singular asymptotics Examination III: Claim (4), emergence and multiple realisability Conclusion. (shrink)
Mathematical idealizations are scientific representations that result from assumptions that are believed to be false, and where mathematics plays a crucial role. I propose a two stage account of how to rank mathematical idealizations that is largely inspired by the semantic view of scientific theories. The paper concludes by considering how this approach to idealization allows for a limited form of scientific realism. ‡I would like to thank Robert Batterman, Gabriele Contessa, Eric Hiddleston, Nicholaos Jones, and Susan Vineberg for (...) helpful discussions and encouragement. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Beering Hall, Purdue University, 100 N. University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Special issue. With contributions by Anouk Barberouse, Sarah Francescelli and Cyrille Imbert, Robert Batterman, Roman Frigg and Julian Reiss, Axel Gelfert, Till Grüne-Yanoff, Paul Humphreys, James Mattingly and Walter Warwick, Matthew Parker, Wendy Parker, Dirk Schlimm, and Eric Winsberg.
Batterman has recently argued that fundamental theories are typically explanatorily inadequate, in that there exist physical phenomena whose explanation requires that the conceptual apparatus of a fundamental theory be supplemented by that of a less fundamental theory. This paper is an extended critical commentary on that argument: situating its importance, describing its structure, and developing a line of objection to it. The objection is that in the examples Batterman considers, the mathematics of the less fundamental theory is definable (...) in terms of the mathematics of the fundamental theory and that only the latter need be given a physical interpretation---so we can view the desired explanation as drawing only upon resources internal to the more fundamental physical theory. (The paper also includes an appendix surveying some recent results on quantum chaos.). (shrink)
Explanations of three different aspects of the rainbow are considered. The highly mathematical character of these explanations poses some interpretative questions concerning what the success of these explanations tells us about rainbows. I develop a proposal according to which mathematical explanations can highlight what is relevant about a given phenomenon while also indicating what is irrelevant to that phenomenon. This proposal is related to the extensive work by Batterman on asymptotic explanation with special reference to Batterman’s own discussion (...) of the rainbow. (shrink)
This document is a synopsis of discussions at the workshop prepared by Nicholaos Jones and Kevin Coffey, with remarks added by by Chuang Liu, John D. Norton, John Earman, Gordon Belot, Mark Wilson, Bob Batterman and Margie Morrison. The program is included in an appendix.
This paper presents completeness and conservative extension results for the boolean extensions of the relevant logic T of Ticket Entailment, and for the contractionless relevant logics TW and RW. Some surprising results are shown for adding the sentential constant t to these boolean relevant logics; specifically, the boolean extensions with t are conservative of the boolean extensions without t, but not of the original logics with t. The special treatment required for the semantic normality of T is also shown along (...) the way. (shrink)
This paper is a study of four subscripted Gentzen systems G u R +, G u T +, G u RW + and G u TW +.  shows that the first three are equivalent to the semilattice relevant logics u R +, u T + and u RW + and conjectures that G u TW + is, equivalent to u TW +. Here we prove Cut Theorems for these systems, and then show that modus ponens is admissible — which (...) is not so trivial as one normally expects. Finally, we give decision procedures for the contractionless systems, G u TW + and G u RW +. (shrink)
This paper gives an outline of three different approaches to the four-valued semantics for relevant logics (and other non-classical logics in their vicinity). The first approach borrows from the 'Australian Plan' semantics, which uses a unary operator '⋆' for the evaluation of negation. This approach can model anything that the two-valued account can, but at the cost of relying on insights from the Australian Plan. The second approach is natural, well motivated, independent of the Australian Plan, and it provides a (...) semantics for the contraction-free relevant logic C (or RW). Unfortunately, its approach seems to model little else. The third approach seems to capture a wide range of formal systems, but at the time of writing, lacks a completeness proof. (shrink)
Recent work by Robert Batterman and Alexander Rueger has brought attention to cases in physics in which governing laws at the base level “break down” and singular limit relations obtain between base- and upper-level theories. As a result, they claim, these are cases with emergent upper-level properties. This paper contends that this inference—from singular limits to explanatory failure, novelty or irreducibility, and then to emergence—is mistaken. The van der Pol nonlinear oscillator is used to show that there can be (...) a full explanation of upper-level properties entirely in base-level terms even when singular limits are present. Whether upper-level properties are emergent depends not on the presence of a singular limit but rather on details of the ampliative approximation methods used. The paper suggests that focusing on explanatory deficiency at the base level is key to understanding emergence in physics. (shrink)