In this paper, the relation between identity-based reduction and one specific sort of reductiveexplanation is considered. The notion of identity-based reduction is spelled out and its role in the reduction debate is sketched. An argument offered by Jaegwon Kim, which is supposed to show that identity-based reduction and reductiveexplanation are incompatible, is critically examined. From the discussion of this argument, some important consequences about the notion of reduction are pointed out.
This paper examines a paradigm case of allegedly successful reductiveexplanation, viz. the explanation of the fact that water boils at 100°C based on facts about H2O. The case figures prominently in Joseph Levine’s explanatory gap argument against physicalism. The paper studies the way the argument evolved in the writings of Levine, focusing especially on the question how the reductiveexplanation of boiling water figures in the argument. It will turn out that there are two (...) versions of the explanatory gap argument to be found in Levine’s writings. The earlier version relies heavily on conceptual analysis and construes reductiveexplanation as a process of deduction. The later version makes do without conceptual analysis and understands reductive explanations as based on theoretic reductions that are justified by explanatory power. Along the way will be shown that the bridge principles — which are being neglected in the explanatory gap literature — play a crucial role in the explanatory gap argument. (shrink)
Is conceptual analysis required for reductiveexplanation? If there is no a priori entailment from microphysical truths to phenomenal truths, does reductiveexplanation of the phenomenal fail? We say yes (Chalmers 1996; Jackson 1994, 1998). Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker say no (Block and Stalnaker 1999).
In this paper I examine Chalmers and Jackson’s defence of the a <span class='Hi'>priori</span> entailment thesis, that is, the claim that microphysical truths a <span class='Hi'>priori</span> entail ordinary non-phenomenal truths such as ‘water covers 60% of the Earth surface’, which they use as a premise for an argument against the possibility of a reductiveexplanation of consciousness. Their argument relies on a certain view about the possession conditions of macroscopic concepts such as WATER, known as ascriptivism. In the (...) paper I distinguish two versions of ascriptivism: reductive versus non-reductive ascriptivism. According to reductive ascriptivism, competent users of a concept have the ability to infer truths involving such concept from lower-level truths, whereas according to non-reductive ascriptivism, all that is required in order to be a competent user of a concept is to be able to infer truths involving that concept from other truths, which need not be lower-level truths. I argue, first, that the a <span class='Hi'>priori</span> entailment thesis is committed to reductive ascriptivism, and secondly, that reductive ascriptivism is problematic because it trivializes the notion of a <span class='Hi'>priori</span> knowledge. Therefore, I conclude that Chalmers and Jackson have not presented a convincing case for the claim that microphysical truths entail ordinary non-phenomenal truths a <span class='Hi'>priori</span>, especially when we understand this claim in the sense that is relevant for their argument against the possibility of a reductiveexplanation of consciousness. (shrink)
The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductiveexplanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part–whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductiveexplanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on (...) these aspects generates new forms of reductiveexplanation and conditions for their success or failure in biology and other sciences. This analysis is illustrated using the case of protein folding in molecular biology, which demonstrates its applicability and relevance, as well as illuminating the complexity of reductive reasoning in a specific biological context. (shrink)
This paper details an evolving dynamic systems hierarchy and explores its relationship with conceptual, evolutionary, physiological, and behavioural characteristics that include phenomenal experience. In doing this, the paper demonstrates an example of a type-C physicalist's reductiveexplanation of phenomenal experience that is coherent with stipulated philosophical criteria and theories. By providing a reductiveexplanation of phenomenal experience, the paper provides insights toward explaining many unique human characteristics. These include, creativity, the origins of language as distinct from (...) animal communication, the evolution of morality, and the dynamics behind bias and prejudice. Furthermore, the reductiveexplanation provides foundations for artificial consciousness applications. (shrink)
Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable (...) to address some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluralists often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction—traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism—can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomedical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies. (shrink)
In the contemporary life sciences more and more researchers emphasize the “limits of reductionism” (e.g. Ahn et al. 2006a, 709; Mazzocchi 2008, 10) or they call for a move “beyond reductionism” (Gallagher/Appenzeller 1999, 79). However, it is far from clear what exactly they argue for and what the envisioned limits of reductionism are. In this paper I claim that the current discussions about reductionism in the life sciences, which focus on methodological and explanatory issues, leave the concepts of a (...) class='Hi'>reductive method and a reductiveexplanation too unspecified. In order to fill this gap and to clarify what the limits of reductionism are I identify three reductive methods that are crucial in the current practice of the life sciences: decomposition, focusing on internal factors, and studying parts in isolation. Furthermore, I argue that reductive explanations in the life sciences exhibit three characteristics: first, they refer only to factors at a lower level than the phenomenon at issue, second, they focus on internal factors and thus ignore or simplify the environment of a system, and, third, they cite only the parts of a system in isolation. (shrink)
This paper argues that the form of explanation at issue in the hard problem of consciousness is scientifically irrelevant, despite appearances to the contrary. In particular, it is argued that the 'sense of understanding' that plays a critical role in the form of explanation implicated in the hard problem provides neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition on satisfactory scientific explanation. Considerations of the actual tools and methods available to scientists are used to make the case against (...) it being a necessary condition, and work by J.D. Trout that exploits psychological research on the hindsight and overconfidence biases is used to show that it is not a sufficient condition. It is argued, however, that certain intellectual and moral concerns give us good reason to still try to meet the hard problem's explanatory challenge, despite its extrascientific nature. (shrink)
Many biologists and philosophers have worried that importing models of reasoning from the physical sciences obscures our understanding of reasoning in the life sciences. In this paper we discuss one example that partially validates this concern: part-whole reductive explanations. Biology and physics tend to incorporate different models of temporality in part-whole reductive explanations. This results from differential emphases on compositional and causal facets of reductive explanations, which have not been distinguished reliably in prior philosophical analyses. Keeping these (...) two facets distinct facilitates the identifi cation of two further aspects of reductiveexplanation: intrinsicality and fundamentality. Our account provides resources for discriminating between different types of reductiveexplanation and suggests a new approach to comprehending similarities and differences in the explanatory reasoning found in biology and physics. (shrink)
Psychoneural reductionists sometimes claim that sufficient amounts of lower-level explanatory achievement preclude further contributions from higher-level psychological research. Ostensibly, with nothing left to do, the effect of such preclusion on psychological explanation is extinction. Reductionist arguments for preclusion have recently involved a reorientation within the philosophical foundations of neuroscience---namely, away from the philosophical foundations and toward the neuroscience. In this chapter, I review a successful reductiveexplanation of an aspect of reward function in terms of dopaminergic operations (...) of the mesocorticolimbic system in order to demonstrate why preclusion/extinction claims are dubious. (shrink)
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.
Nagel’s official model of theory-reduction and the way it is represented in the literature are shown to be incompatible with the careful remarks on the notion of reduction Nagel gave while developing his model. Based on these remarks, an alternative model is outlined which does not face some of the problems the official model faces. Taking the context in which Nagel developed his model into account, it is shown that the way Nagel shaped his model and, thus, its well-known deficiencies, (...) are best conceived of as a mere by-product of his philosophical background. (shrink)
Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable (...) to address some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluraliste often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction—traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism—can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomédical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies. (shrink)
According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self- representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self- representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self- representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most promising self-representational approach to the explanatory gap (...) (§2). That approach is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine, which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4). (shrink)
Until recently, the notions of function and multiple realization were supposed to save the autonomy of psychological explanations. Furthermore, the concept of supervenience presumably allows both dependence of mind on brain and non-reducibility of mind to brain, reconciling materialism with an independent explanatory role for mental and functional concepts and explanations. Eliminativism is often seen as the main or only alternative to such autonomy. It gladly accepts abandoning or thoroughly reconstructing the psychological level, and considers reduction if successful as equivalent (...) with elimination. In comparison with the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of biology has developed more subtle and complex ideas about functions, laws, and reductiveexplanation than the stark dichotomy of autonomy or elimination. It has been argued that biology is a patchwork of local laws, each with different explanatory interests and more or less limited scope. This points to a pluralistic, domain-specific and multi-level view of explanations in biology. Explanatory pluralism has been proposed as an alternative to eliminativism on the one hand and methodological dualism on the other hand. It holds that theories at different levels of description, like psychology and neuroscience, can co-evolve, and mutually influence each other, without the higher-level theory being replaced by, or reduced to, the lower-level one. Such ideas seem to tally with the pluralistic character of biological explanation. In biological psychology, explanatory pluralism would lead us to expect many local and non-reductive interactions between biological, neurophysiological, psychological and evolutionary explanations of mind and behavior. This idea is illustrated by an example from behavioral genetics, where genetics, physiology and psychology constitute distinct but interrelated levels of explanation. Accounting for such a complex patchwork of related explanations seems to require a more sophisticated and precise way of looking at levels than the existing ideas on (reductive and non-reductive) explanation in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
among them Joseph Levine, David Chalmers, Frank Jackson and Jaegwon Kim?have claimed that there are conceptual grounds sufficient for ruling out the possibility of a reductiveexplanation of phenomenal consciousness. Their claim assumes a functional model of reduction (regarded by Kim as an alternative to the traditional Nagelian model) which requires an a priori entailment from the facts in the reduction base to the phenomena to be explained. The aim of this paper is to show that this is (...) an unreasonable requirement?a requirement that no reductiveexplanation in science should be expected to satisfy. I argue that the functional model is not substantively different from the Nagelian model properly understood, and that the question whether consciousness is reductively explainable?in a sense involving property identifications or in some weaker sense compatible with Nagelian reduction?is a fundamentally empirical question, not one that can be settled on conceptual grounds alone. Introduction Kim's critique of the Nagelian model of reduction The functional model of reduction Is consciousness reducible? Psychophysical reduction: concluding remarks. (shrink)
A major part of the mind–body problem is to explain why a given set of physical processes should give rise to qualia of one sort rather than another. Colour hues are the usual example considered here, and there is a lively debate between, for example, Hardin, Levine, Jackson, Clark and Chalmers as to whether the results of colour vision science can provide convincing explanations of why colours actually look the way they do. This paper examines carefully the type of (...) class='Hi'>explanation that is needed here, and it is concluded that it does not have to be reductive to be effective. What needs to be explained more than anything is why inverted hue scenarios are more intuitive than other sensory inversions: and the issue of physicalism versus dualism is only of marginal relevance here. (shrink)
Abstract Non-reductive physicalism is currently the most widely held metaphysic of mind. My aim in this essay is to show that supervenience physicalism?perhaps the most common form of non-reductive physicalism?is not a defensible position. I argue that, in order for any supervenience thesis to ground a legitimate form of physicalism, it must yield the right sort of determination relation between physical and non-physical properties. Then I argue that non-reductionism leaves one without any explanation for the laws that (...) are implied by supervenience theses that deliver this determination relation. (shrink)
This paper contributes to the recently renewed debate over methodological individualism (MI) by carefully sorting out various individualist claims and by making use of recent work on reduction and explanation outside the social sciences. My major focus is on individualist claims about reduction and explanation. I argue that reductionist versions of MI fail for much the same reasons that mental predicates cannot be reduced to physical predicates and that attempts to establish reducibility by weakening the requirements for reduction (...) also fail. I consider and reject a number of explanatory theses, among them the claims that any adequate theory must refer only to individuals and that individualist theory suffices to explain fully. The latter claim, I argue, is not entailed by the supervenience of social facts on individual facts. Lastly, I argue that there is one individualist restriction on explanation which is far more plausible and significant than one would initially suspect. (shrink)
We introduce a new model of reduction inspired by Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model [Kemeny & Oppenheim 1956] and argue that this model is operative in a “ruthlessly reductive” part of current neuroscience. Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model was quickly rejected in mid-20th-century philosophy of science and replaced by models developed by Ernest Nagel and Kenneth Schaffner [Nagel 1961], [Schaffner 1967]. We think that Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model was correctly rejected, given what a “theory of reduction” was supposed to account for (...) at that time. But their guiding insights about what constitutes scientific reduction—increases in explanatory scope and systematization—reflect actual practices of current reductionistic neuroscience. The key rehabilitative step to make their insights fit current scientific details is to restate them using resources from recent work on causal-mechanistic explanation. We begin with a scientific case study, drawn from the relatively new field of “molecular and cellular cognition”. It provides an explanation of the well-known Ebbinghaus spacing effect on learning and memory in terms of interactions between a transcriptional enhancer protein and its inhibiting phosphatase in neurons recruited into the memory trace. Next we briefly describe some popular models of reduction from mid-20th-century philosophy of science. We point out how these models fail to illuminate key features of our scientific case study. Finally we present our causal-mechanistically updated Kemeny and Oppenheim-inspired model and argue that it nicely accounts for the details of our scientific case study. We close with a remark that will hopefully undercut the surprise many may feel to learn that a long-rejected philosophical account of reduction actually is at work in one of the most prominent reductionistic endeavors in current science. (shrink)
The contributors to this volume examine the motivations for anti-reductionist views, and assess their coherence and success, in a number of different fields, including moral and mental philosophy, psychology, organic biology, and the social sciences.
As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve (...) to bridge levels rather than reduce them, as well as the different ways in which mechanisms are discovered. Finally, we offer a more detailed example of an important psychological phenomenon for which mechanistic explanation has provided the main source of scientific understanding. (shrink)
Philosophy of science is positioned to make distinctive contributions to cognitive science by providing perspective on its conceptual foundations and by advancing normative recommendations. The philosophy of science I embrace is naturalistic in that it is grounded in the study of actual science. Focusing on explanation, I describe the recent development of a mechanistic philosophy of science from which I draw three normative consequences for cognitive science. First, insofar as cognitive mechanisms are information-processing mechanisms, cognitive science needs an account (...) of how the representations invoked in cognitive mechanisms carry information about contents, and I suggest that control theory offers the needed perspective on the relation of representations to contents. Second, I argue that cognitive science requires, but is still in search of, a catalog of cognitive operations that researchers can draw upon in explaining cognitive mechanisms. Last, I provide a new perspective on the relation of cognitive science to brain sciences, one which embraces both reductive research on neural components that figure in cognitive mechanisms and a concern with recomposing higher-level mechanisms from their components and situating them in their environments. (shrink)
This essay analyzes and develops recent views about explanation in biology. Philosophers of biology have parted with the received deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation primarily by attempting to capture actual biological theorizing and practice. This includes an endorsement of different kinds of explanation (e.g., mathematical and causal-mechanistic), a joint study of discovery and explanation, and an abandonment of models of theory reduction in favor of accounts of explanatory reduction. Of particular current interest are philosophical accounts of (...) complex explanations that appeal to different levels of organismal organization and use contributions from different biological disciplines. The essay lays out one model that views explanatory integration across different disciplines as being structured by scientific problems. I emphasize the philosophical need to take the explanatory aims pursued by different groups of scientists into account, as explanatory aims determine whether different explanations are competing or complementary and govern the dynamics of scientific practice, including interdisciplinary research. I distinguish different kinds of pluralism that philosophers have endorsed in the context of explanation in biology, and draw several implications for science education, especially the need to teach science as an interdisciplinary and dynamic practice guided by scientific problems and explanatory aims. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to evaluate Frank Jackson and Philip Pettitâs âprogram explanationâ framework as an account of the autonomy of the special sciences. We argue that this framework can only explain the autonomy of a limited range of special science explanations. The reason for this limitation is that the framework overlooks a distinction between two kinds of properties, which we refer to as âhigher-levelâ and âhigher-orderâ properties. The program explanation framework can account for the autonomy of (...) special science explanations that appeal to higher-level properties but it does not account for the autonomy of most of those explanations that appeal to higher-order properties. (shrink)
Kitcher's unification theory of explanation seems to suggest that only the most reductive accounts can legitimately be termed explanatory. This is not what we find in actual scientific practice. In this paper, I attempt to reconcile these ideas. I claim that Kitcher's theory picks out ideal explanations, but that our term explanation is used to cover other accounts that have a certain relationship with the ideal accounts. At times, versions and portions of ideal explanations can also be (...) considered explanatory. (shrink)
The notion of emergence has received much renewed attention recently. Most of the authors I review (§ II), including most notably Robert Batterman (2002, 2003, 2004) share the common aim of providing accounts for emergence which offer fresh insights from highly articulated and nuanced views reflecting recent developments in applied physics. Moreover, the authors present such accounts to reveal what they consider as misrepresentative and oversimplified abstractions often depicted in standard philosophical accounts. With primary focus on Batterman, however, I show (...) (in § III), that despite (or perhaps because of) such novel and compelling insights; underlying thematic tensions and ambiguities persist nevertheless, due to subtle reifications made of particular (albeit central) mathematical methods employed in asymptotic analysis. I offer a potential candidate (in § IV), for regularization advanced by the theoretical physicist David Finkelstein (1996, 2002, 2004). The richly characterized multilinear algebraic theories employed by Finkelstein would, for instance, serve the two-fold purpose of clearing up much of the inevitably “epistemological emergence” accompanying divergent limiting cases treated in the standard approaches, while at the same time characterize in relatively greater detail the “ontological emergence” of particular quantum phenomena under study. Among other things, this suggests that the some of the structures suggested by Batterman as essentially involving the superseded theory are better understood as regular algebraic contraction (Finkelstein). Because of the regularization latent in such powerful multilinear algebraic methods, among other things this calls into question Batterman’s claims that explanation and reduction should be kept separate, in instances involving singular limits. (§ V). (shrink)
Henry Eyring's absolute rate theory explains the size of chemical reaction rate constants in terms of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and quantum chemistry. In addition it uses a number of unique concepts such as the 'transition state'. A key feature of the theory is that the explanation it provides relies on the comparison of reaction rate constant expressions derived from these individual theories. In this paper, the example is used to develop a naturalized notion of reduction and the unity of (...) science. This characterization provides the necessary clues to the sort of inter-theoretic linkages that are present in the theory of reaction rates. The overall theory is then further characterized as a theory network, establishing connections between non-reductive notions of inter-theory connections. This characterization also sheds new light on the unity of science. (shrink)
John Bickle's new book on philosophy and neuroscience is aptly subtitled 'a ruthlessly reductive account'. His 'new wave metascience' is a massive attack on the relative autonomy that psychology enjoyed until recently, and goes even beyond his previous (Bickle, J. (1998). Psychoneural reduction: The new wave. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.) new wave reductionsism. Reduction of functional psychology to (cognitive) neuroscience is no longer ruthless enough; we should now look rather to cellular or molecular neuroscience at the lowest possible level (...) for explanations of memory, consciousness and attention. Bickle presents a fascinating set of experimental cases of such molecule-to-mind explanations. This book qualifies as a showcase of naturalism in the philosophy of mind. Naturally, many of the traditional conceptual approaches in the philosophy of mind are given short shrift, but - in Bickle's metascientific scheme - the role of philosophy of science also seems reduced to explicating laboratory findings. The present reviewers think that this reductionism suffers from overstretching; in particular, the idea of 'explanation in a single bound' from molecule to mind is a bit too ruthless. Still, Bickle's arguments are worth serious attention. (shrink)
A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations (...) at different levels are preferable in different circumstances because they offer different types of generality, which are appropriate in different circumstances of explanation. *Received July 2009; revised September 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University, 246 Murray Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
This paper concerns non-causal normative explanations such as ‘This act is wrong because/in virtue of__’ (where the blank is often filled out in non-normative terms, such as ‘it causes pain’). The familiar intuition that normative facts aren't brute or ungrounded but anchored in non-normative facts seems to be in tension with the equally familiar idea that no normative fact can be fully explained in purely non-normative terms. I ask whether the tension could be resolved by treating the explanatory relation in (...) normative explanations as the sort of ‘grounding’ relation that receives extensive discussion in recent metaphysics. I argue that this would help only under controversial assumptions about the nature of normative facts, and perhaps not even then. I won't try to resolve the tension, but draw a distinction between two different sorts of normative explanations (one concerning ‘bearers’, the other concerning ‘sources’ of normativity) which helps to identify constraints on a resolution. One distinctive constraint on normative explanations in particular might be that they should be able to play a role in normative justification. (shrink)
The main message of the paper is that there is a disconnect between what many philosophers of mind think of as the scientific practice of reductive or reductionist explanation, and what the most relevant scientific work is actually like. I will sketch what I see as a better view, drawing on various ideas in recent philosophy of science. I then import these ideas into the philosophy of mind, to see what difference they make.1 At the end of the (...) paper I address a possible objection: the familiar package of ideas I reject in the philosophy of science should not be lightly discarded, because other popular views on fundamental issues depend on positions that I want to reject. I reply that those apparently attractive further ideas are not worth holding onto. (shrink)
This paper tries to get a grip on two seemingly conflicting intuitions about reductionism in quantum mechanics. On the one hand it is received wisdom that quantum mechanics puts an end to ‘reductionism’. Quantum-entanglement is responsible for such features of quantum mechanics as holism, the failure of supervenience and emergence. While I agree with these claims I will argue that it is only part of the story. Quantum mechanics provides us with thorough-going reductionist explanations. I will distinguish two kinds of (...) micro-explanation (or micro-‘reduction’). I will argue that even though quantum-entanglement provides an example for the failure of one kind of micro-explanation it does not affect the other. Contrary to a recent paper by Kronz and Tiehen I claim that the explanation of the dynamics of quantum mechanical systems is just as reductionist as it used to be in classical mechanics. (shrink)
Advocates and opponents of Humean Supervenience (HS) have neglected a crucial feature of nomic explanation: laws can explain by generating descriptions of possibilities. Dretske and Armstrong have opposed HS by arguing that laws construed as Humean regularities cannot explain, but their arguments fail precisely because they neglect to consider this generating role of laws. Humeans have dismissed the intuitive violations of HS manifested by John Carroll's Mirror Worlds as erroneous, but distinguishing the laws' generating role from the non-Humean notion (...) that laws govern undermines such responses, and renews the force of Carroll's critique of HS. However, it also undermines the assumption that HS is constitutive of Humeanism. The generating role of laws readily motivates a non-reductive Humeanism that violates HS. An account is sketched, and is seen to provide a novel explanation of the governing intuition. (shrink)
Alexander Miller has recently considered an ingenious extension of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit's account of 'program explanation' as a way of defending non-reductive naturalist versions of moral realism against Harman's explanatory criticism. Despite the ingenuity of this extension, Miller concludes that program explanation cannot help such moral realists in their attempt to defend moral properties. Specifically, he argues that such moral program explanations are dispensable from an epistemically unlimited point of view. I show that Miller's argument (...) for this negative claim is inadequate, and that he has, in spite of himself, identified a promising defence of moral realism. (shrink)
What is it to explain a psychological phenomenon (e.g., a person remembering a nanie, navigating through campus, untlerstanding huntor) In philoÂ»ophy, a traditional answer is that to explain a phenomenon is toÂ»how it to be the expectecl result of prior circumstances given a scientific law. Influenced by thiÂ» perspective. behaviorists directed psychology toward the search for the laws of learning that explained all behavior as the consequence of particular conditioning regiinens. Although discussion of laws remains comiiionplace in philosophical accounts of..
This volume brings together a number of perspectives on the nature of realization explanation and experimentation in the ‘special’ and biological sciences as well as the related issues of psychoneural reduction and cognitive extension. The first two papers in the volume may be regarded as offering direct responses to the questions: (1) What model of realization is appropriate for understanding the metaphysics of science? and (2) What kind of philosophical work is such a model ultimately supposed to do?
We typically explain human action teleologically, by citing the action's goal or purpose. However, a broad class of naturalistic projects within the philosophy of mind presuppose that teleological explanation is reducible to causal explanation. In this paper I argue that two recently suggested strategies - one suggested by Al Mele and the other proposed by John Bishop and Christopher Peacocke - fail to provide a successful causal analysis of teleological explanation. The persistent troubles encountered by the (...) class='Hi'>reductive project suggest that teleological explanations are irreducible and that the naturalistic accounts of mind and agency should be called into question. (shrink)
Metaphor is commonly taken to be an elliptical simile. This article offers a rational reconstruction of two types of simile theories of metaphor: reductive and non-reductive. Careful analysis shows the differences between these theories, but in the end, neither does the explanatory work it sets out to do. In assimilating metaphor to simile and simile to literal comparison, the reductive simile theory obscures what is most important to an account of metaphor: an account of what it is (...) to interpret a bit of discourse metaphorically. The reductive simile theory fails because the reduction to literal comparison fails. The non-reductive simile theory faces most of the same problems that undermine the simile theory, particularly problems generating a corresponding simile when the metaphor contains quantificational terms and other linguistic complexities. Analysis of the non-reductive simile theory highlights the troublesome assumption (inherent in all simile theories) that metaphor and simile play the same linguistic role: making or prompting us to make comparisons. In both guises, the simile theory mistakes the task of explaining what a metaphor means with how metaphor (in general) has meaning; it confuses explanation with explication. In diagnosing and arguing against the simile theory, this article sets out a framework for understanding the difference between literal and metaphorical interpretation. (shrink)
The present paper presents a philosophical analysis of earth science, a discipline that has received relatively little attention from philosophers of science. We focus on the question of whether earth science can be reduced to allegedly more fundamental sciences, such as chemistry or physics. In order to answer this question, we investigate the aims and methods of earth science, the laws and theories used by earth scientists, and the nature of earth-scientific explanation. Our analysis leads to the tentative conclusion (...) that there are emergent phenomena in earth science but that these may be reducible to physics. However, earth science does not have irreducible laws, and the theories of earth science are typically hypotheses about unobservable (past) events or generalised - but not universally valid - descriptions of contingent processes. Unlike more fundamental sciences, earth science is characterised by explanatory pluralism: earth scientists employ various forms of narrative explanations in combination with causal explanations. The main reason is that earth-scientific explanations are typically hampered by local underdetermination by the data to such an extent that complete causal explanations are impossible in practice, if not in principle. (shrink)
In chapter 8 of Miller 2003, I argued against the idea that Jackson and Pettit's notion of program explanation might help Sturgeon's non-reductive naturalist version of moral realism respond to the explanatory challenge posed by Harman. In a recent paper in the AJP[Nelson 2006, Mark Nelson has attempted to defend the idea that program explanation might prove useful to Sturgeon in replying to Harman. In this note, I suggest that Nelson's argument fails.