Models of reduction and categories of reductionism

Synthese 91 (3):167-94 (1992)
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Abstract

  A classification of models of reduction into three categories — theory reductionism, explanatory reductionism, and constitutive reductionism — is presented. It is shown that this classification helps clarify the relations between various explications of reduction that have been offered in the past, especially if a distinction is maintained between the various epistemological and ontological issues that arise. A relatively new model of explanatory reduction, one that emphasizes that reduction is the explanation of a whole in terms of its parts is also presented in detail. Finally, the classification is used to clarify the debate over reductionism in molecular biology. It is argued there that while no model from the category of theory reduction might be applicable in that case, models of explanatory reduction might yet capture the structure of the relevant explanations

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Sahotra Sarkar
University of Texas at Austin

Citations of this work

Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration and the Unity of Neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):373-395.
Getting Over Atomism: Functional Decomposition in Complex Neural Systems.Daniel C. Burnston - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):743-772.
Part-Whole Science.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2011 - Synthese 178 (3):397-427.
Constitutive Explanatory Relevance.Carl Craver - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32:3-20.
What is the Developmentalist Challenge?Paul E. Griffiths & Robin D. Knight - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (2):253-258.

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References found in this work

Mental Events.Donald Davidson - 1970 - In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Clarendon Press. pp. 207-224.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.

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