The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence

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Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, which he argues has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He argues that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behaviour: in this type of reasoning, a scientific observer may choose to focus on only a handful among many avaliable variables, while arguing that the others make little or no contribution to the behaviour in a given system. With clarity and rigour, Batterman simplifies some of the more complex questions about universal behaviour, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that offers the possibility of filling explanatory gaps across disciplines and is guaranteed a broad and enthusiastic readership.