Abstraction, Multiple Realizability, and the Explanatory Value of Omitting Irrelevant Details

Abstract

Anti-reductionists hold that special science explanations of some phenomena are objectively better than physical explanations of those phenomena. Prominent defenses of this claim appeal to the multiple realizability of special science properties. I argue that special science explanations can be shown to be better, in one respect, than physical explanations in a way that does not depend on multiple realizability. Namely, I discuss a way in which a special science explanation may be more abstract than a competing physical explanation, even if it is not multiply realizable, and I argue that this kind of abstraction can be used to support the idea that that special science explanation omits explanatorily irrelevant detail.

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Matthew Haug
William & Mary

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Special sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.
Reduction of mind.David K. Lewis - 1994 - In Samuel Guttenplan (ed.), Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. pp. 412-431.
Psychological predicates.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - In William H. Capitan & Daniel Davy Merrill (eds.), Art, mind, and religion. [Pittsburgh]: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 37--48.

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