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Renormalization Group Methods: Which Kind of Explanation?

Castellani, Elena and Margoni, Emilia (2022) Renormalization Group Methods: Which Kind of Explanation? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 95. pp. 158-166.

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Abstract

Renormalization and Renormalization Group (RG) have proven to be very powerful tools
in contemporary physics, with a decisive influence on how to conceive of key physical
aspects, including theories themselves. While they can be tackled from a variety of stand-
points, this paper focuses on a speci�c philosophical issue, that is, which kind of expla-
nation can be provided by means of RG methods. After a short, historical overview to
set out the physical context, we scrutinize recent debates on the topic, with a particular
focus on Morrison's seminal work. With respect to her account, where RG explanation
is portrayed as mathematical, non-reductive, and non-causal, our focus is on the first
aspect. Our claim is that RG theory's explanatory role cannot reside exclusively in its
mathematical character, independently from a physical interpretation: mathematical and
physical features intersect in a highly non-trivial way to provide an explanation of physical
phenomena.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Castellani, Elenaelena.castellani@unifi.it0000-0001-5314-0179
Margoni, Emiliaemilia.margoni@gmail.com0000-0002-2556-1539
Keywords: Renormalization group, E�ective theories, Critical phenomena, Non-causal explanation, Mathematical explanation
Depositing User: Dr. Emilia Margoni
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2022 20:00
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2022 20:00
Item ID: 21148
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Elsevier
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2022.07.009
Date: August 2022
Page Range: pp. 158-166
Volume: 95
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21148

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