Philosophy of Science 72 (1):128-153 (2005)

Authors
Gordon Belot
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Abstract
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.).
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DOI 10.1086/428072
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On the Explanatory Role of Mathematics in Empirical Science.Robert Batterman - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (1):1-25.
Can Classical Structures Explain Quantum Phenomena?Alisa Bokulich - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2):217-235.
Can Mathematics Explain Physical Phenomena?Otávio Bueno & Steven French - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):85-113.

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