David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 151 (3):377 - 402 (2006)
In this paper, I propose two theses, and then examine what the consequences of those theses are for discussions of reduction and emergence. The first thesis is that what have traditionally been seen as robust, reductions of one theory or one branch of science by another more fundamental one are a largely a myth. Although there are such reductions in the physical sciences, they are quite rare, and depend on special requirements. In the biological sciences, these prima facie sweeping reductions fade away, like the body of the famous Cheshire cat, leaving only a smile.... The second thesis is that the "smiles" are fragmentary patchy explanations, and though patchy and fragmentary, they are very important, potentially Nobel-prize winning advances. To get the best grasp of these "smiles," I want to argue that, we need to return to the roots of discussions and analyses of scientific explanation more generally, and not focus mainly on reduction models, though three conditions based on earlier reduction models are retained in the present analysis. I briefly review the scientific explanation literature as it relates to reduction, and then offer my account of explanation. The account of scientific explanation I present is one I have discussed before, but in this paper I try to simplify it, and characterize it as involving field elements and a preferred causal model system abbreviated as FE and PCMS. In an important sense, this FE and PCMS analysis locates an "explanation" in a typical scientific research article. This FE and PCMS account is illustrated using a recent set of neurogenetic papers on two kinds of worm foraging behaviors: solitary and social feeding. One of the preferred model systems from a 2002 Nature article in this set is used to exemplify the FE and PCMS analysis, which is shown to have both reductive and nonreductive aspects. The paper closes with a brief discussion of how this FE and PCMS approach differs from and is congruent with Bickle's "ruthless reductionism" and the recently revived mechanistic philosophy of science of Machamer, Darden, and Craver
|Keywords||Emergence explanation Field model system Reduction|
|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
Herbert A. Simon (1969). The Sciences of the Artificial. [Cambridge, M.I.T. Press.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Vol. The University of Chicago Press.
Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) (1970). Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press.
James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Foad Dizadji-Bahmani, Roman Frigg & Stephan Hartmann (2010). Who's Afraid of Nagelian Reduction? Erkenntnis 73 (3):393-412.
James Tabery (2009). Difference Mechanisms: Explaining Variation with Mechanisms. Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):645-664.
Raffaella Campaner (2011). Understanding Mechanisms in the Health Sciences. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):5-17.
Marco J. Nathan (2012). The Varieties of Molecular Explanation. Philosophy of Science 79 (2):233-254.
James Tabery (2009). Making Sense of the Nature–Nurture Debate. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):711-723.
Similar books and articles
Robert McCauley, Enriching Philosophical Models of Cross-Scientific Relations: Incorporating Diachronic Theories.
Harold Kincaid (1986). Reduction, Explanation, and Individualism. Philosophy of Science 53 (4):492-513.
Sahotra Sarkar (1992). Models of Reduction and Categories of Reductionism. Synthese 91 (3):167-94.
Ingo Brigandt (2013). Explanation in Biology: Reduction, Pluralism, and Explanatory Aims. Science and Education 22 (1):69-91.
Thomas Nickles (2005). Problem Reduction: Some Thoughts. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 84 (1):107-133.
Kenneth F. Schaffner (1967). Approaches to Reduction. Philosophy of Science 34 (2):137-147.
Ronald P. Endicott (2007). Reinforcing the Three ‘R's: Reduction, Reception, and Replacement. In M. Schouten & H. Looren de Jong (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience, and Reduction. Blackwell
Raphael van Riel (2010). Identity-Based Reduction and Reductive Explanation. Philosophia Naturalis 47 (1-2):183-219.
Michael Esfeld, Christian Sachse & Patrice Soom (2012). Marrying the Merits of Nagelian Reduction and Functional Reduction. Acta Analytica 27 (3):217-230.
Foad Dizadji-Bahmani, Roman Frigg & Stephan Hartmann (2011). Confirmation and Reduction: A Bayesian Account. Synthese 179 (2):321 - 338.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads60 ( #60,502 of 1,777,936 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #291,352 of 1,777,936 )
How can I increase my downloads?