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Turn and Face the Strange... Ch-ch-changes: Philosophical Questions Raised by Phase Transitions

In Robert W. Batterman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford University Press (2013)

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  1. Reduction, Emergence, and Renormalization.Jeremy Butterfield - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (1):5-49.
    In previous work, I described several examples combining reduction and emergence: where reduction is understood a la Ernest Nagel, and emergence is understood as behaviour that is novel. Here, my aim is again to reconcile reduction and emergence, for a case which is apparently more problematic than those I treated before: renormalization. My main point is that renormalizability being a generic feature at accessible energies gives us a conceptually unified family of Nagelian reductions. That is worth saying since philosophers tend (...)
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  • What Is the Paradox of Phase Transitions?Elay Shech - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):1170-1181.
    I present a novel approach to the scholarly debate that has arisen with respect to the philosophical import one should infer from scientific accounts of phase transitions by appealing to a distinction between representation understood as denotation, and faithful representation understood as a type of guide to ontology. It is argued that the entire debate is misguided, for it stems from a pseudo-paradox that does not license the type of claims made by scholars and that what is really interesting about (...)
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  • Do Renormalization Group Explanations Conform to the Commonality Strategy?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):143-150.
    Renormalization group explanations account for the astonishing phenomenon that microscopically very different physical systems display the same macro-behavior when undergoing phase-transitions. Among philosophers, this explanandum phenomenon is often described as the occurrence of a particular kind of multiply realized macro-behavior. In several recent publications, Robert Batterman denies that RG explanations account for this explanandum phenomenon by following the commonality strategy, i.e. by identifying properties that microscopically very different physical systems have in common. Arguing against Batterman’s claim, I defend the view (...)
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  • On the Renormalization Group Explanation of Universality.Alexander Franklin - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (2):225-248.
    It is commonly claimed that the universality of critical phenomena is explained through particular applications of the renormalization group. This article has three aims: to clarify the structure of the explanation of universality, to discuss the physics of such RG explanations, and to examine the extent to which universality is thus explained. The derivation of critical exponents proceeds via a real-space or a field-theoretic approach to the RG. Building on work by Mainwood, this article argues that these approaches ought to (...)
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  • A Flea on Schrödinger's Cat.Np Klaas Landsman & Robin Reuvers - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (3):373-407.
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    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2012.
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  • Decoupling Emergence and Reduction in Physics.Karen Crowther - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):419-445.
    An effective theory in physics is one that is supposed to apply only at a given length scale; the framework of effective field theory describes a ‘tower’ of theories each applying at different length scales, where each ‘level’ up is a shorter-scale theory. Owing to subtlety regarding the use and necessity of EFTs, a conception of emergence defined in terms of reduction is irrelevant. I present a case for decoupling emergence and reduction in the philosophy of physics. This paper develops (...)
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  • Reduction.A. Hütterman & A. C. Love - 2016 - In P. Humphries (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 460-484.
    Reduction and reductionism have been central philosophical topics in analytic philosophy of science for more than six decades. Together they encompass a diversity of issues from metaphysics and epistemology. This article provides an introduction to the topic that illuminates how contemporary epistemological discussions took their shape historically and limns the contours of concrete cases of reduction in specific natural sciences. The unity of science and the impulse to accomplish compositional reduction in accord with a layer-cake vision of the sciences, the (...)
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  • Taking Reductionism to the Limit: How to Rebut the Antireductionist Argument From Infinite Limits.Juha Saatsi & Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Philosophy of Science (3):455-482.
    This paper analyses the anti-reductionist argument from renormalisation group explanations of universality, and shows how it can be rebutted if one assumes that the explanation in question is captured by the counterfactual dependence account of explanation.
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  • Universality Reduced.Alexander Franklin - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1295-1306.
    The universality of critical phenomena is best explained by appeal to the Renormalisation Group (RG). Batterman and Morrison, among others, have claimed that this explanation is irreducible. I argue that the RG account is reducible, but that the higher-level explanation ought not to be eliminated. I demonstrate that the key assumption on which the explanation relies – the scale invariance of critical systems – can be explained in lower-level terms; however, we should not replace the RG explanation with a bottom-up (...)
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  • Infinite Idealizations in Physics.Elay Shech - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (9):e12514.
    In this essay, I provide an overview of the debate on infinite and essential idealizations in physics. I will first present two ostensible examples: phase transitions and the Aharonov– Bohm effect. Then, I will describe the literature on the topic as a debate between two positions: Essentialists claim that idealizations are essential or indispensable for scientific accounts of certain physical phenomena, while dispensabilists maintain that idealizations are dispensable from mature scientific theory. I will also identify some attempts at finding a (...)
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