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

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