David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 77 (November):251-81 (1988)
This paper explores the explanatory adequacy of lower-level theories when their higher-level counterparts are irreducible. If some state or entity described by a high-level theory supervenes upon and is realized in events, entities, etc. described by the relevant lower-level theory, does the latter fully explain the higher-level event even if the higher-level theory is irreducible? While the autonomy of the special sciences and the success of various eliminativist programs depends in large part on how we answer this question, neither the affirmative or negative answer has been defended in detail. I argue, contra Putnam and others, that certain facts about causation and explanation show that such lower-level theories do explain. I also argue, however, that there may be important questions about counterfactuals and laws that such explanations cannot answer, thereby showing their partial inadequacy. I defend the latter claim against criticisms based on eliminativism about higher-level explanations and sketch a number of empirical conditions that lower-level explanations would have to meet to fully explain higher-level events
|Keywords||Explanation Reductionism Science Supervenience|
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Citations of this work BETA
Christopher Clarke (2016). The Explanatory Virtue of Abstracting Away From Idiosyncratic and Messy Detail. Philosophical Studies 173 (6):1429-1449.
Maurice K. D. Schouten & Huib Looren De Jong (1999). Reduction, Elimination, and Levels: The Case of the LTP-Learning Link. Philosophical Psychology 12 (3):237 – 262.
Harold Kincaid (2004). Contextualism, Explanation and the Social Sciences. Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):201 – 218.
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William A. Rottschaefer & David Martinsen (1991). The Insufficience of Supervenient Explanations of Moral Actions: Really Taking Darwin and the Naturalistic Fallacy Seriously. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 6 (4):439-445.
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