Universality caused: the case of renormalization group explanation

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (3):36 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Recently, many have argued that there are certain kinds of abstract mathematical explanations that are noncausal. In particular, the irrelevancy approach suggests that abstracting away irrelevant causal details can leave us with a noncausal explanation. In this paper, I argue that the common example of Renormalization Group explanations of universality used to motivate the irrelevancy approach deserves more critical attention. I argue that the reasons given by those who hold up RG as noncausal do not stand up to critical scrutiny. As a result, the irrelevancy approach and the line between casual and noncausal explanation deserves more scrutiny.

Similar books and articles

Minimal Models and the Generalized Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation.Mark Povich - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):117-137.
Abstract versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
Explanatory Abstractions.Lina Jansson & Juha Saatsi - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):817–844.
Causal patterns and adequate explanations.Angela Potochnik - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1163-1182.
Do Renormalization Group Explanations Conform to the Commonality Strategy?Alexander Reutlinger - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):143-150.


Added to PP

345 (#41,679)

6 months
50 (#41,112)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Emily Sullivan
Utrecht University

References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge.
Time and chance.David Z. Albert - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Inference to the best explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.

View all 45 references / Add more references