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Explanation Beyond CausationPhilosophical Perspectives on Non-Causal Explanations$
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Alexander Reutlinger and Juha Saatsi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198777946.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 September 2021

The Non-Causal Character of Renormalization Group Explanations

The Non-Causal Character of Renormalization Group Explanations

(p.206) 10 The Non-Causal Character of Renormalization Group Explanations
Explanation Beyond Causation

Margaret Morrison

Oxford University Press

After reviewing some of the recent literature on non-causal and mathematical explanation, this chapter develops an argument as to why renormalization group (RG) methods should be seen as providing non-causal, yet physical, information about certain kinds of systems/phenomena. The argument centres on the structural character of RG explanations and the relationship between RG and probability theory. These features are crucial for the claim that the non-causal status of RG explanations involves something different from simply ignoring or “averaging over” microphysical details—the kind of explanations common to statistical mechanics. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of RG in treating dynamical systems and how that role exemplifies the structural aspects of RG explanations which in turn exemplifies the non-causal features.

Keywords:   renormalization group, probability, dynamical systems, mathematical explanation, statistical mechanics

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