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The Devil in the DetailsAsymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence$
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Robert W. Batterman

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195146479

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195146476.001.0001

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Asymptotic Explanation

Asymptotic Explanation

(p.37) 4 Asymptotic Explanation
The Devil in the Details

Robert W. Batterman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a fairly detailed discussion of the renormalization group account of the universality of critical phenomena. This discussion allows one to determine the distinctive features of asymptotic explanation in general. Two other, superficially quite different, explanatory accounts involving “intermediate asymptotics” are then discussed. It is argued that these different examples exhibit the same general asymptotic explanatory strategy – one that is ubiquitous in physics and applied mathematics. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the importance of stability considerations in the asymptotic explanations.

Keywords:   asymptotic explanation, critical phenomena, dimensional analysis, intermediate asymptotics, renormalization group, structural stability, universality

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