Approaches to reduction

Philosophy of Science 34 (2):137-147 (1967)
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Four current accounts of theory reduction are presented, first informally and then formally: (1) an account of direct theory reduction that is based on the contributions of Nagel, Woodger, and Quine, (2) an indirect reduction paradigm due to Kemeny and Oppenheim, (3) an "isomorphic model" schema traceable to Suppes, and (4) a theory of reduction that is based on the work of Popper, Feyerabend, and Kuhn. Reference is made, in an attempt to choose between these schemas, to the explanation of physical optics by Maxwell's electromagnetic theory, and to the revisions of genetics necessitated by partial biochemical reductions of genetics. A more general reduction schema is proposed which: (1) yields as special cases the four reduction paradigms considered above, (2) seems to be in better accord with both the canons of logic and actual scientific practice, and (3) clarifies the problems of meaning variance and ontological reduction



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Kenneth Schaffner
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

Conjectures and Refutations.Karl Popper - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):159-168.
Models and Analogies in Science.Mary B. Hesse - 1966 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 3 (3):190-191.
The 'mental' and the 'physical'.Herbert Feigl - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:370-497.
Introduction to mathematical logic.Alonso Church - 1958 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 63 (1):118-118.
On reduction.John Kemeny & Paul Oppenheim - 1956 - Philosophical Studies 7 (1-2):6 - 19.

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