Two Cheers for Reductionism

Social Philosophy Today 22:59-70 (2006)
This imagined conversation between Sir Isaac Newton and the priestess Diotima (from Plato’s Symposium) examines the possible merits of reductionism in scientific inquiry, finding it of value both as a methodology for the simplification of scientific explanations and for the decisive elimination of metaphysically extravagant scientific hypotheses. However, the power and narrative appeal of reductionism renders its overuse a perennial danger. Science thus needs reductionism, but also needs reminding that its task is to explain natural phenomena, not to explain them away
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