Why be Natural?

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Naturalness, as a guiding principle for effective field theories (EFTs), requires that there be no sensitive correlations between phenomena at low- and high-energy scales. This essay considers four reasons to adopt this principle: (i) natural EFTs exhibit modest empirical success; (ii) unnatural EFTs are improbable; (iii) naturalness underwrites what Williams (Stud Hist Philos Mod Phys 51:82, 2015) calls a “central dogma” of EFTs; namely, that phenomena at widely separated scales should decouple; and (iv) naturalness underwrites a non-trivial notion of emergence. I argue that the first three are not compelling reasons, whereas the fourth is.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)898-914
Number of pages17
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Effective field theories
  • Emergence
  • Naturalness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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