Against reduction

Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):151-158 (2011)
Abstract
In Molecular Models: Philosophical Papers on Molecular Biology, Sahotra Sarkar presents a historical and philosophical analysis of four important themes in philosophy of science that have been influenced by discoveries in molecular biology. These are: reduction, function, information and directed mutation. I argue that there is an important difference between the cases of function and information and the more complex case of scientific reduction. In the former cases it makes sense to taxonomise important variations in scientific and philosophical usage of the terms function and information . However, the variety of usage of reduction across scientific disciplines (and across philosophy of science) makes such taxonomy inappropriate. Sarkar presents reduction as a set of facts about the world that science has discovered, but the facts in question are remarkably disparate; variously semantic, epistemic and ontological. I argue that the more natural conclusion of Sarkar’s analysis is eliminativism about reduction as a scientific concept
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    Ingo Brigandt & Alan Love, Reductionism in Biology. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Donald Davidson (1970). Mental Events. In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (eds.), Experience and Theory. Humanities Press. 79-101.

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