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Alexander Franklin
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It is commonly claimed, both by physicists and philosophers that the universality of critical phenomena is explained through particular applications of the Renormalisation Group (RG). This paper has three aims: (i) to clarify the nature 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 RG. Following Mainwood (2006) I argue 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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