Hierarchies and levels of reality

Synthese 176 (3):379 - 397 (2010)
Abstract
We examine some assumptions about the nature of 'levels of reality' in the light of examples drawn from physics. Three central assumptions of the standard view of such levels (for instance, Oppenheim and Putnam 1958) are (i) that levels are populated by entities of varying complexity, (ii) that there is a unique hierarchy of levels, ranging from the very small to the very large, and (iii) that the inhabitants of adjacent levels are related by the parthood relation. Using examples from physics, we argue that it is more natural to view the inhabitants of levels as the behaviors of entities, rather than entities themselves. This suggests an account of reduction between levels, according to which one behavior reduces to another if the two are related by an appropriate limit relation. By considering cases where such inter-level reduction fails, we show that the hierarchy of behaviors differs in several respects from the standard hierarchy of entities. In particular, while on the standard view, lower-level entities are 'micro' parts of higher-level entities, on our view, a system's macro-level behavior can be seen as a ('non-spatial') part of its micro-level behavior. We argue that this second hierarchy is not really in conflict with the standard view and that it better suits examples of explanation in science
Keywords Levels  Reduction  Physicalism  Part–whole relations
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,095
External links
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
John Heil (1999). Multiple Realizability. American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (3):189-208.
Carl G. Hempel (1966). Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
John G. Kemeny & Paul Oppenheim (1956). On Reduction. Philosophical Studies 7 (1-2):6 - 19.

View all 17 references

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-06-10

Total downloads

72 ( #21,594 of 1,102,061 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #41,656 of 1,102,061 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.