Universality Reduced

Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1295-1306 (2019)
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Abstract

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 account, rather we should acknowledge that the explanation appeals to dependencies which may be traced down to lower levels.

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Alexander Franklin
King's College London

Citations of this work

Renormalization group methods: Which kind of explanation?Elena Castellani & Emilia Margoni - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 95 (C):158-166.
Book Forum.Alexander Franklin & Katie Robertson - 2023 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 97 (C):123-125.
Finite-size scaling theory: Quantitative and qualitative approaches to critical phenomena.Vincent Ardourel & Sorin Bangu - 2023 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 100 (C):99-106.

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References found in this work

The multiple realizability argument against reductionism.Elliott Sober - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (4):542-564.
Multiple realizability and universality.Robert W. Batterman - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (1):115-145.
Emergent Physics and Micro-Ontology.Margaret Morrison - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (1):141-166.

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