%0 Generic
%A Norton, John D.
%D 2011
%F pittphilsci:8622
%K Approximation, idealization, phase transitio, thermodynamic limit
%T Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters
%U http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/8622/
%X It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.
%Z For updates, see http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/jdnorton.html