On the Renormalisation Group Explanation of Universality

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Franklin, Alexander
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preprint description
It is commonly claimed that the universality of critical phenomena is explained through particular applications of the renormalisation group. This paper has three aims: to clarify the structure of the explanation of universality; to discuss the physics of such renormalisation group explanations; and 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. Building on Mainwood (2006), this paper argues that these approaches ought to be distinguished: while the field-theoretic approach explains universality, the real-space approach fails to provide an adequate explanation.