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Autonomy of Theories: An Explanatory Problem

Batterman, Robert (2017) Autonomy of Theories: An Explanatory Problem. Nous.

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Abstract

This paper aims to draw attention to an explanatory problem posed by the existence of multiply realized or universal behavior exhibited by certain physical systems. The problem is to explain how it is possible that systems radically distinct at lower-scales can nevertheless exhibit identical or nearly identical behavior at upper-scales (typically everyday length and time scales). Theoretically this is reflected by the fact that continuum theories such as fluid mechanics are spectacularly successful at predicting, describing, and explaining fluid behaviors despite the fact that they do not recognize the discrete (atomic/molecular) nature of fluids. A standard attempt to reduce one (continuum) theory to another (atomic/molecular theory), is shown to fail to answer the appropriate question about autonomy.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Batterman, Robertrbatterm@pitt.edu0000-0002-7239-3128
Keywords: Theories; autonomy; Explanation, Reduction Universality Multiple Realizability
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Robert Batterman
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2017 15:01
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2017 15:01
Item ID: 12734
Journal or Publication Title: Nous
Publisher: Wiley
Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nous.12...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1111/nous.12191
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 5 January 2017
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12734

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