Stability, Emergence and Part-Whole-Reduction

In Brigitte Falkenburg & Margret Morrison (eds.), Why More Is Different. Philosophical Issues in Condensed Matter Physics and Complex Systems. Springer. pp. 169-200 (2015)
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We address the question whether there is an explanation for the fact that as Fodor put it the micro-level “converges on stable macro-level properties”, and whether there are lessons from this explanation for other issues in the vicinity. We argue that stability in large systems can be understood in terms of statistical limit theorems. In the thermodynamic limit of infinite system size N → ∞ systems will have strictly stable macroscopic properties in the sense that transitions between different macroscopic phases of matter (if there are any) will not occur in finite time. Indeed stability in this sense is a consequence of the absence of fluctuations, as (large) fluctuations would be required to induce such macroscopic transformations. These properties can be understood in terms of coarse-grained descriptions, and the statistical limit theorems for independent or weakly dependent random variable describing the behaviour averages and the statistics of fluctuations in the large system limit. We argue that RNG analyses applied to off-critical systems can provide a rationalization for the applicability of these limit theorems. Furthermore we discuss some related issues as, for example, the role of the infinite-system idealization.

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Andreas Hüttemann
University of Cologne


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