Are causal facts really explanatorily emergent? Ladyman and Ross on higher-level causal facts and renormalization group explanation
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In their Every Thing Must Go, Ladyman and Ross defend a novel version of Neo-Russellian metaphysics of causation, which falls into three claims: (1) there are no fundamental physical causal facts, (2) there are higher-level causal facts of the special sciences, and (3) higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent. While accepting claims (1) and (2), I attack claim (3). Ladyman and Ross argue that higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent, because (a) certain aspects of these higher-level facts (their universality) can be captured by renormalization group (RG) explanations, and (b) RG explanations are not reductive explanations. However, I argue that RG explanation should be understood as reductive explanations. This result undermines Ladyman and Ross’s RG-based argument for the explanatory emergence of higher-level causal facts.
KeywordsRenormalization Group Critical Exponent Universality Class Special Science Renormalization Group Method
I am grateful to Laura Franklin-Hall, Andreas Hüttemann, James Ladyman, Barry Loewer, Margaret Morrison, John Norton, Michael Strevens, Karim Thebault, and Jessica Wilson for helpful discussions. I acknowledge support by the Humboldt Foundation at the MCMP.
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