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Robert W. Batterman [17]Robert W. Batterman [2]
  1. Robert W. Batterman & Collin C. Rice (forthcoming). Minimal Model Explanations. .
    This article discusses minimal model explanations, which we argue are distinct from various causal, mechanical, difference-making, and so on, strategies prominent in the philosophical literature. We contend that what accounts for the explanatory power of these models is not that they have certain features in common with real systems. Rather, the models are explanatory because of a story about why a class of systems will all display the same large-scale behavior because the details that distinguish them are irrelevant. This story (...)
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  2. Robert W. Batterman (2014). The Inconsistency of Physics (with a Capital “P”). Synthese 191 (13):2973-2992.
    This paper discusses a conception of physics as a collection of theories that, from a logical point of view, is inconsistent. It is argued that this logical conception of the relations between physical theories is too crude. Mathematical subtleties allow for a much more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the relations between different physical theories.
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  3. Robert W. Batterman (2010). Reduction and Renormalization. In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. 159--179.
  4. Robert W. Batterman (2009). Idealization and Modeling. Synthese 169 (3):427 - 446.
    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 (...)
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  5. Robert W. Batterman (2007). On the Specialness of Special Functions (the Nonrandom Effusions of the Divine Mathematician). British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):263 - 286.
    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.
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  6. Robert W. Batterman (2006). Hydrodynamics Versus Molecular Dynamics: Intertheory Relations in Condensed Matter Physics. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):888-904.
    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.
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  7. Robert W. Batterman (2005). Response to Belot's "Whose Devil? Which Details?". Philosophy of Science 72 (1):154-163.
    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'.
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  8. Robert W. Batterman (2002). Asymptotics and the Role of Minimal Models. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (1):21-38.
    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.
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  9. Robert W. Batterman (2002). The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence. Oxford University Press.
    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.
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  10. Robert W. Batterman (2000). A 'Modern' (=Victorian?) Attitude Towards Scientific Understanding. The Monist 83 (2):228-257.
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  11. Robert W. Batterman (1998). Why Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics Works: Universality and the Renormalization Group. Philosophy of Science 65 (2):183-208.
    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 (...)
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  12. Robert W. Batterman (1997). 'Into a Mist': Asymptotic Theories on a Caustic. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 28 (3):395-413.
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  13. Robert W. Batterman & Homer White (1996). Chaos and Algorithmic Complexity. Foundations of Physics 26 (3):307-336.
    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 (...)
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  14. Robert W. Batterman (1995). Theories Between Theories: Asymptotic Limiting Intertheoretic Relations. Synthese 103 (2):171 - 201.
    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 (...)
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  15. Robert W. Batterman (1993). Defining Chaos. Philosophy of Science 60 (1):43-66.
    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 (...)
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  16. Robert W. Batterman (1992). Explanatory Instability. Noûs 26 (3):325-348.
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  17. Robert W. Batterman (1991). Chaos, Quantization, and the Correspondence Principle. Synthese 89 (2):189 - 227.
  18. Robert W. Batterman (1991). Randomness and Probability in Dynamical Theories: On the Proposals of the Prigogine School. Philosophy of Science 58 (2):241-263.
    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 (...)
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  19. Robert W. Batterman (1990). Irreversibility and Statistical Mechanics: A New Approach? Philosophy of Science 57 (3):395-419.
    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 (...)
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