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On the Renormalisation Group Explanation of Universality

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-248
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Accepted/In press22 May 2017
Published10 Apr 2018


King's Authors


It is commonly claimed, both by physicists and philosophers that the universality of critical phenomena is explained through particular applications of the renormalisation group. This paper has three aims: (i) to clarify the structure of the explanation of universality; (ii) to discuss the physics of such renormalisation
group explanations; (iii) to examine the extent to which universality is thus explained.

The derivation of critical exponents proceeds via a real-space or a field-theoretic approach to the renormalisation group. This paper builds on Mainwood (2006) in arguing that these approaches ought to be distinguished: while the real-space approach fails adequately to explain universality, the field-theoretic approach succeeds in the satisfaction of this goal.

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