David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Foundations of Science 3 (1):45-59 (1998)
Reductionism, in the sense of the doctrine that theories on different levels of reality should exhibit strict and general relations of deducibility, faces well-known difficulties. Nevertheless, the idea that deeper layers of reality are responsible for what happens at higher levels is well-entrenched in scientific practice. We argue that the intuition behind this idea is adequately captured by the notion of supervenience: the physical state of the fundamental physical layers fixes the states of the higher levels. Supervenience is weaker than traditional reductionism, but it is not a metaphysical doctrine: one can empirically support the existence of a supervenience relation by exhibiting concrete relations between the levels. Much actual scientific research is directed towards finding such inter-level relations. It seems to be quite generally held that the importance of such relations between different levels is that they are explanatory and give understanding: deeper levels provide deeper understanding, and this justifies the search for ever deeper levels. We shall argue, however, that although achieving understanding is an important aim of science, its correct analysis is not in terms of relations between higher and lower levels. Connections with deeper layers of reality do not generally provide for deeper understanding. Accordingly, the motivation for seeking deeper levels of reality does not come from the desire to find deeper understanding of phenomena, but should be seen as a consequence of the goal to formulate ever better, in the sense of more accurate and more-encompassing, empirical theories.
|Keywords||Philosophy Philosophy of Science Mathematical Logic and Foundations Methodology of the Social Sciences|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Henk W. De Regt & Dennis Dieks (2005). A Contextual Approach to Scientific Understanding. Synthese 144 (1):137 - 170.
Henk W. de Regt (2001). Spacetime Visualisation and the Intelligibility of Physical Theories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 32 (2):243-265.
Bas C. van Fraassen (2007). Scientific Structuralism: Structuralism(s) About Science: Some Common Problems. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 81 (1):45–61.
Robert W. P. Luk (forthcoming). A Theory of Scientific Study. Foundations of Science:1-28.
Douglas Walton (2004). A New Dialectical Theory of Explanation. Philosophical Explorations 7 (1):71 – 89.
Similar books and articles
Jay L. Garfield (2001). Nagarjuna's Theory of Causality: Implications Sacred and Profane. Philosophy East and West 51 (4):507-524.
Paul W. Humphreys (1997). Emergence, Not Supervenience. Philosophy of Science Supplement 64 (4):337-45.
Cristina Ionescu (2006). The Mythical Introduction of Recollection in the Meno (81A5–E2). Journal of Philosophical Research 31:153-170.
Alexander Rueger & Patrick McGivern (2010). Hierarchies and Levels of Reality. Synthese 176 (3):379 - 397.
Jorge J. E. Gracia (2009). Categories and Levels of Reality. Axiomathes 19 (2):179-191.
Ingo Brigandt & Alan Love, Reductionism in Biology. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Stanley N. Salthe (2009). A Hierarchical Framework for Levels of Reality: Understanding Through Representation. [REVIEW] Axiomathes 19 (1):87-99.
J. Brakel (1996). Interdiscourse or Supervenience Relations: The Primacy of the Manifest Image. Synthese 106 (2):253 - 297.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads47 ( #86,989 of 1,792,085 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #207,127 of 1,792,085 )
How can I increase my downloads?