Abstract
The perturbative approach to quantum field theory has long been viewed with suspicion by philosophers of science. This article offers a diagnosis of its conceptual problems. Drawing on Norton’s discussion of the notion of approximation I argue that perturbative QFT ought to be understood as producing approximations without specifying an underlying QFT model. This analysis leads to a reassessment of common worries about perturbative QFT. What ends up being the key issue with the approach on this picture is not mathematical rigour, or the threat of inconsistency, but the need for a physical explanation of its empirical success. 1Three Worries about Perturbative Quantum Field Theory2The Perturbative Formalism 2.1Expanding the S-matrix2.2Perturbative renormalization3Approximations and Models4Perturbative Quantum Field Theory Produces Approximations5The Real Problem
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axx042
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References found in this work BETA

Galilean Idealization.Ernan McMullin - 1985 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 16 (3):247.
Taking Particle Physics Seriously: A Critique of the Algebraic Approach to Quantum Field Theory.David Wallace - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2):116-125.

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Whence the Effectiveness of Effective Field Theories?Alexander Franklin - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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