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Abstraction and its Limits: Finding Space for Novel Explanation.

Knox, Eleanor (2012) Abstraction and its Limits: Finding Space for Novel Explanation. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    Several modern accounts of explanation acknowledge the importance of abstraction and idealization for our explanatory practice. However, once we allow a role for abstraction, questions remain. I ask whether the relation between explanations at different theoretical levels should be thought of wholly in terms of abstraction, and argue that changes of variable between theories can lead to novel explanations that are not merely abstractions of some more detailed picture. I use the example of phase transitions as described by statistical mechanics and thermodynamics to illustrate this, and to demonstrate some details of the relationship between abstraction, idealization, and novel explanation.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Emergence, Abstraction, Idealization, Explanation, Statistical mechanics, Thermodynamics, Phase transitions
    Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
    General Issues > Models and Idealization
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
    Depositing User: Dr Eleanor Knox
    Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2012 15:26
    Last Modified: 04 Oct 2012 15:26
    Item ID: 9355
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9355

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