The individualism-holism debate on intertheoretic reduction and the argument from multiple realization

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (1):77-99 (2003)
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Abstract

The argument from multiple realization is currently considered the argument against intertheoretic reduction. Both Little and Kincaid have applied the argument to the individualism-holism debate in support of the antireductionist holist position. The author shows that the tenability of the argument, as applied to the individualism-holism debate, hinges on the descriptive constraints imposed on the individualist position. On a plausible formulation of the individualist position, the argument does not establish that the intertheoretic reduction of social theories is highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the reductive project may run into other potential obstacles. For this reason, it is concluded that the prospect of intertheoretic reduction is uncertain rather than unlikely. Key Words: argument from multiple realization • intertheoretic reduction • reductionism • individualism • holism.

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Julie Zahle
University of Bergen