Construction by reduction

Philosophy of Science 62 (1):1-20 (1995)
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Scientists employ a variety of procedures to eliminate degrees of freedom from computationally and/or analytically intractable equations. In the process, they often construct new models and discover new concepts, laws and functional relations. I argue these procedures embody a central notion of reduction, namely, the containment of one structure within another. However, their inclusion in the philosophical concept of reduction necessitates a reevaluation of many standard assumptions about the ontological, epistemological and functional features of a reduction. On the basis of the reevaluation, I advocate a continuum of reduction which proceeds from the eliminative to the constructive. The metaphysical aspects of theory use in constructive reductions are sketched.



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Jeffry L. Ramsey
Smith College

Citations of this work

Non-reductive physicalism and degrees of freedom.Jessica Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
Non-reductive Physicalism and Degrees of Freedom.Jessica Wilson - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):279-311.
The Unity of Science.Jordi Cat - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind.Paul M. Churchland (ed.) - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Tim Maudlin & Nancy Cartwright - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (11):599.
How Experiments End.Peter Galison - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (3):411-414.
Two concepts of intertheoretic reduction.Thomas Nickles - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (April):181-201.

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