About this topic
Summary

Philosophers use “theory reduction” as a term of art to denote the scientific practice whereby a more basic theory expresses or otherwise captures the facts and principles described by a less basic theory. The reducing theory thus preserves the ontology of the reduced theory, at least in ideal cases. Accordingly, theory reduction contrasts with “theory replacement” according to which a less basic theory and its ontology are rejected.

Key works

One important topic concerns the logic of reduction or how it is best conceived. Major ideas includes reduction as a derivation by bridge principles (Nagel 1961), the role of identities in bridge principles (Sklar 1967), approximate reduction (Schaffner 1967), an expanded continuum of strong to weak reduction that advertises no bridge laws (Churchland 1979; Bickle 1997), compositional or mechanistic reduction (Wimsatt 1976; Bechtel 2007), and functional reduction (Kim 1998). Other important topics concern the analysis of scientific cases (Kitcher 1984; Bickle 2005), the nature of theories as sentential items versus models (SUPPES 1957), issues of intralevel versus interlevel competition (McCauley 1986), how the co-evolution of theories might affect the prospects for or the interpretation of reduction (Churchland 1986; Endicott 1998), cases wherein a less basic and unreduced theory is retained rather than replaced (Fodor 1974; Rosenberg 2006), and the phenomenon of multiple realizability that underlies the non-reduced status of such theories (Bechtel 1999; Batterman 2000; Shapiro 2004; Aizawa & Gillett 2009).

Introductions A paper by Robert McCauley (McCauley web, published in Thagard 2006), provides a nice introduction to theory reduction with an eye to psychology and neuroscience, including discussion of old and new views. Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love (Brigandt & Love 2008) offer a fairly comprehensive and historically sensitive introduction to reduction for the biological sciences.
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158 found
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1 — 50 / 158
  1. Montague Reduction, Confirmation, and the Syntax-Semantics Relation.Stephan Hartmann & Kristina Liefke - manuscript
    Intertheoretic relations are an important topic in the philosophy of science. However, since their classical discussion by Ernest Nagel, such relations have mostly been restricted to relations between pairs of theories in the natural sciences. In this paper, we present a model of a new type of intertheoretic relation, called 'Montague Reduction', which is assumed in Montague's framework for the analysis and interpretation of natural language syntax. To motivate the adoption of our new model, we show that this model extends (...)
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  2. Concepts of Intertheoretic Reduction in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind.John Bickle - manuscript
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  3. Reduction: Models of Cross-Scientific Relations and Their Implications for the Psychology-Neuroscience Interface.Robert McCauley - manuscript
    University Abstract Philosophers have sought to improve upon the logical empiricists’ model of scientific reduction. While opportunities for integration between the cognitive and the neural sciences have increased, most philosophers, appealing to the multiple realizability of mental states and the irreducibility of consciousness, object to psychoneural reduction. New Wave reductionists offer a continuum of comparative goodness of intertheoretic mapping for assessing reductions. Their insistence on a unified view of intertheoretic relations obscures epistemically significant crossscientific relations and engenders dismissive conclusions about (...)
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  4. Should Explanations Omit the Details?Darren Bradley - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):827-853.
    There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely accounts for why higher-level explanations are sometimes (...)
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  5. Inter-Theory Relations in Quantum Gravity: Correspondence, Reduction and Emergence.Karen Crowther - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 63:74-85.
    Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using examples (...)
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  6. Spacetime 'Emergence'.Nick Huggett - 2018 - In Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    Could spacetime be derived rather than fundamental? The question is pressing because attempts to quantize gravity have led to theories in which (arguably) there are either no, or only extremely thin, spacetime structures. Moreover, recent proposals for the interpretation of quantum mechanics have suggested that 3-dimensional space may be an ‘appearance’ derived from the 3N-dimensional space in which an N-particle wavefunction lives (cross- reference). In fact, I will largely assume a positive answer, and investigate how it could be; in particular, (...)
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  7. Online Overview Article: Reductionism.Jan G. Michel - 2018 - SDA, Digital Humanities Project, Oxford University.
  8. Renormalizability, Fundamentality and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity.Karen Crowther & Niels Linnemann - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx052.
    Principles are central to physical reasoning, particularly in the search for a theory of quantum gravity (QG), where novel empirical data is lacking. One principle widely adopted in the search for QG is UV completion: the idea that a theory should (formally) hold up to all possible high energies. We argue---/contra/ standard scientific practice---that UV-completion is poorly-motivated as a guiding principle in theory-construction, and cannot be used as a criterion of theory-justification in the search for QG. For this, we explore (...)
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  9. Reduction.Andreas Hüttemann & Alan Love - 2016 - In Paul Humphreys (ed.), The Oxford Handbook in Philosophy of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 460-484.
    Reduction and reductionism have been central philosophical topics in analytic philosophy of science for more than six decades. Together they encompass a diversity of issues from metaphysics and epistemology. This article provides an introduction to the topic that illuminates how contemporary epistemological discussions took their shape historically and limns the contours of concrete cases of reduction in specific natural sciences. The unity of science and the impulse to accomplish compositional reduction in accord with a layer-cake vision of the sciences, the (...)
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  10. “Formal” Versus “Empirical” Approaches to Quantum–Classical Reduction.Joshua Rosaler - 2015 - Topoi 34 (2):325-338.
    I distinguish two types of reduction within the context of quantum-classical relations, which I designate “formal” and “empirical”. Formal reduction holds or fails to hold solely by virtue of the mathematical relationship between two theories; it is therefore a two-place, a priori relation between theories. Empirical reduction requires one theory to encompass the range of physical behaviors that are well-modeled in another theory; in a certain sense, it is a three-place, a posteriori relation connecting the theories and the domain of (...)
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  11. Local Reduction in Physics.Joshua Rosaler - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 50:54-69.
    A conventional wisdom about the progress of physics holds that successive theories wholly encompass the domains of their predecessors through a process that is often called reduction. While certain influential accounts of inter-theory reduction in physics take reduction to require a single "global" derivation of one theory's laws from those of another, I show that global reductions are not available in all cases where the conventional wisdom requires reduction to hold. However, I argue that a weaker "local" form of reduction, (...)
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  12. Nagel on Reduction.Sahotra Sarkar - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 53:43-56.
    This paper attempts a critical reappraisal of Nagel's (1961, 1970) model of reduction taking into account both traditional criticisms and recent defenses. This model treats reduction as a type of explanation in which a reduced theory is explained by a reducing theory after their relevant representational items have been suitably connected. In accordance with the deductive-nomological model, the explanation is supposed to consist of a logical deduction. Nagel was a pluralist about both the logical form of the connections between the (...)
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  13. The Concept of Reduction.Raphael van Riel - 2014 - Springer.
    This volume investigates the notion of reduction. Building on the idea that philosophers employ the term ‘reduction’ to reconcile diversity and directionality with unity, without relying on elimination, the book offers a powerful explication of an “ontological” notion of reduction the extension of which is (primarily) formed by properties, kinds, individuals, or processes. It argues that related notions of reduction, such as theory-reduction and functional reduction, should be defined in terms of this explication. Thereby, the book offers a coherent framework, (...)
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  14. Scientific Reduction.Raphael van Riel & Robert Van Gulick - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  15. What's Old Is New Again: Kemeny-Oppenheim Reduction at Work in Current Molecular Neuroscience.Kari Theurer & John Bickle - 2013 - Philosophia Scientiae 17 (2):89-113.
    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 (...)
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  16. Identity, Asymmetry, and the Relevance of Meanings for Models of Reduction.Raphael van Riel - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):747-761.
    Assume that water reduces to H2O. If so water is identical to H2O. At the same time, if water reduces to H2O then H2O does not reduce to water–the reduction relation is asymmetric. This generates a puzzle–if water just is H2O it is hard to see how we can account for the asymmetry of the reduction relation. The paper proposes a solution to this puzzle. It is argued that the reduction predicate generates intensional contexts and that in order to account (...)
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  17. Structuralist Contributions – and Limitations? – to the Study of Scientific Reduction.John Bickle - 2012 - Metatheoria 2 (2):1-23.
    Structuralism provides useful resources for advancing our understanding of the intertheoretic reduction relation and its place in the history of science. This paper begins by surveying these resources and assessing their metascientific significance. Nevertheless, important challenges remain. I close by arguing that the reductionism implicit in current scientific practice in a paradigmatic reductionistic scientific field –“molecular and cellular cognition”– is better understood on an “intervene and track” model rather than as any kind of intertheoretic relation. I illustrate my alternative model (...)
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  18. Jakob Hohwy and Jesper Kallestrup (Eds), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation.Markus I. Eronen - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):227-231.
    The notion of reduction continues to play an important role in contemporary analytic philosophy. Being Reduced is a collection of essays that not only presents novel contributions to our understanding of reduction, but also aims at finding connections between the debates in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science, which have surprisingly remained rather detached from each other. Being reduced succeeds in this difficult task, and is a very welcome addition to the growing philosophical literature on reduction.
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  19. Marrying the Merits of Nagelian Reduction and Functional Reduction.Michael Esfeld, Christian Sachse & Patrice Soom - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (3):217-230.
    This paper points out the merit of Nagelian reduction, namely to propose a model of inter-theoretic reduction that retains the scientific quality of the reduced theory and the merit of functional reduction, namely to take multiple realization into account and to offer reductive explanations. By considering Lewis and Kim’s proposal for local reductions, we establish that functional reduction fails to achieve a theory reduction and cannot retain the scientific quality of the reduced theory. We improve on that proposal by showing (...)
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  20. Ernest Nagel and Reduction.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (8-9):534-565.
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  21. On the Role of Bridge Laws in Intertheoretic Relations.Sorin Bangu - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1108-1119.
    What is the role of bridge laws in inter-theoretic relations? An assumption shared by many views about these relations is that bridge laws enable reductions. In this article, I acknowledge the naturalness of this assumption, but I question it by presenting a context within thermal physics (involving phase transitions) in which the bridge laws, puzzlingly, seem to contribute to blocking the reduction.
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  22. Conservative Reductionism.Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse - 2011 - Routledge.
    _Conservative Reductionism_ sets out a new theory of the relationship between physics and the special sciences within the framework of functionalism. It argues that it is wrong-headed to conceive an opposition between functional and physical properties and to build an anti-reductionist argument on multiple realization. By contrast, all properties that there are in the world, including the physical ones, are functional properties in the sense of being causal properties, and all true descriptions that the special sciences propose can in principle (...)
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  23. Alisa Bokulich. Reexamining the Quantum-Classical Relation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. X+195. $74.00. [REVIEW]Brian Hepburn - 2011 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (1):142-146.
  24. Theoretical Identities as Explanantia and Explananda.Kevin Morris - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):373-385.
    The mind-brain identity theory, the thesis that sensations are identical with properties or processes of the brain, was introduced into contemporary discussion by U.T. Place, Herbert Feigl, and J.J.C Smart in the 1950s. Despite its widespread rejection in the following decades, the identity theory has received several carefully articulated defenses in recent years. Aside from developing novel responses to well-known arguments against the identity theory, contemporary identity theorists have argued that the epistemological resources available to support the adoption of identities (...)
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  25. Reduction in Biology and Medicine.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 2011 - In Fred Gifford (ed.), Philosophy of Medicine. Elsevier. pp. 16--137.
  26. Nagelian Reduction Beyond the Nagel Model.Raphael van Riel - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (3):353-375.
    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, (...)
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  27. Who’s Afraid of Nagelian Reduction?Foad Dizadji-Bahmani, Roman Frigg & Stephan Hartmann - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (3):393-412.
    We reconsider the Nagelian theory of reduction and argue that, contrary to a widely held view, it is the right analysis of intertheoretic reduction. The alleged difficulties of the theory either vanish upon closer inspection or turn out to be substantive philosophical questions rather than knock-down arguments.
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  28. Identity-Based Reduction and Reductive Explanation.Raphael van Riel - 2010 - Philosophia Naturalis 47 (1-2):183-219.
    In this paper, the relation between identity-based reduction and one specific sort of reductive explanation 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 reductive explanation are incompatible, is critically examined. From the discussion of this argument, some important consequences about the notion of reduction are pointed out.
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  29. Dualities and Intertheoretic Relations.Elena Castellani - 2009 - In Mauricio Suarez, Mauro Dorato & Miklos Redei (eds.), EPSA Philosophical Issues in the Sciences · Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association. Springer. pp. 9--19.
    This is the first of two papers concerned with the philosophical significance of dualities as applied in recent fundamental physics. The general idea is that, for its peculiarity, this ‘new’ ingredient in theory construction can open unexpected perspectives in the current philosophical reflection on contemporary physics. In particular, today’s physical dualities represent an unusual type of intertheory relation, the meaning of which deserves to be investigated. The aim is to show how discussing this point brings into play, at the same (...)
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  30. Reductionism and Discourse Relativity.D. S. Clarke - 2009 - Philo 12 (1):61-72.
    This paper is an interpretation and defense of Putnam’s claim that reductionist sentences identifying experiences with physical events or processes are meaningless. Discourses are formulated within frameworks that are characterized by their methods of justification, types of term introduction, and vocabularies. Examples of both meaningful intra-framework and meaningless cross-framework identities are considered, along with examples of theoretical identities across sub-frameworks. In agreement with Putnam, mental/physical identities are classified as cross-framework. But I qualify Putnam’s thesis by arguing that they can be (...)
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  31. Reconsidering the Role of Bridge Laws In Inter-Theoretical Reductions.Peter Fazekas - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (3):303-322.
    The present paper surveys the three most prominent accounts in contemporary debates over how sound reduction should be executed. The classical Nagelian model of reduction derives the laws of the target-theory from the laws of the base theory plus some auxiliary premises (so-called bridge laws) connecting the entities of the target and the base theory. The functional model of reduction emphasizes the causal definitions of the target entities referring to their causal relations to base entities. The new-wave model of reduction (...)
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  32. Does Functional Reduction Need Bridge Laws? A Response to Marras.Kevin Morris - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):647-657.
    In his recent article ‘Consciousness and Reduction’, Ausonio Marras argues that functional reduction must appeal to bridge laws and thus does not represent a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. In response, I first argue that even if functional reduction must use bridge laws, it still represents a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. Further, I argue that Marras does not succeed in showing that functional reduction must use bridge laws. Introduction Nagelian Reduction, Functional Reduction, and Bridge Laws Marras on Functional Reduction (...)
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  33. Real Reduction in Real Neuroscience : Metascience, Not Philosophy of Science (and Certainly Not Metaphysics!).John Bickle - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter argues that much discussion between philosophers and neuroscientists is infected by philosophical assumptions about the nature of reduction. Instead we should pursue an unbiased examination of the methods used throughout relevant areas of neuroscience. The chapter focuses on reductionist work in the neurobiological discipline of molecular and cellular cognition. It is argued that reduction is a matter of causal intervention into low level mechanisms, and tracking of the effects of these interventions through levels. When interventions provide evidence that (...)
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  34. Psychoneural Reduction: The New Wave.John W. Bickle - 2008 - Bradford.
    One of the central problems in the philosophy of psychology is an updated version of the old mind-body problem: how levels of theories in the behavioral and brain sciences relate to one another. Many contemporary philosophers of mind believe that cognitive-psychological theories are not reducible to neurological theories. However, this antireductionism has not spawned a revival of dualism. Instead, most nonreductive physicalists prefer the idea of a one-way dependence of the mental on the physical.In Psychoneural Reduction, John Bickle presents a (...)
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  35. Reduction and Reductive Explanation : Is One Possible Without the Other?Jaegwon Kim - 2008 - In Jakob Hohwy & Jesper Kallestrup (eds.), Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation. Oxford University Press.
  36. Reducing Psychology While Maintaining its Autonomy Via Mechanistic Explanations.William Bechtel - 2007 - In M. Schouten & H. L. De Joong (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience and Reduction. Blackwell.
    Arguments for the autonomy of psychology or other higher-level sciences have often taken the form of denying the possibility of reduction. The form of reduction most proponents and critics of the autonomy of psychology have in mind is theory reduction. Mechanistic explanations provide a different perspective. Mechanistic explanations are reductionist insofar as they appeal to lower-level entities—the component parts of a mechanism and their operations— to explain a phenomenon. However, unlike theory reductions, mechanistic explanations also recognize the fundamental role of (...)
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  37. Reduction, Integration, and the Unity of Science: Natural, Behavioral, and Social Sciences and the Humanities.William P. Bechtel & Andrew Hamilton - 2007 - In T. Kuipers (ed.), Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues (Volume 1 of the Handbook of the Philosophy of Science). Elsevier.
    1. A Historical Look at Unity 2. Field Guide to Modern Concepts of Reduction and Unity 3. Kitcher's Revisionist Account of Unification 4. Critics of Unity 5. Integration Instead of Unity 6. Reduction via Mechanisms 7. Case Studies in Reduction and Unification across the Disciplines.
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  38. Reinforcing the Three ‘R's: Reduction, Reception, and Replacement.Ronald P. Endicott - 2007 - In M. Schouten & H. Looren de Jong (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience, and Reduction. Blackwell.
    Philosophers of science have offered different accounts of what it means for one scientific theory to reduce to another. I propose a more or less friendly amendment to Kenneth Schaffner’s “General Reduction-Replacement” model of scientific unification. Schaffner interprets scientific unification broadly in terms of a continuum from theory reduction to theory replacement. As such, his account leaves no place on its continuum for type irreducible and irreplaceable theories. The same is true for other accounts that incorporate Schaffner's continuum, for example, (...)
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  39. Theory Reduction by Means of Functional Sub‐Types.Michael Esfeld & Christian Sachse - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):1 – 17.
    The paper sets out a new strategy for theory reduction by means of functional sub-types. This strategy is intended to get around the multiple realization objection. We use Kim's argument for token identity (ontological reductionism) based on the causal exclusion problem as starting point. We then extend ontological reductionism to epistemological reductionism (theory reduction). We show how one can distinguish within any functional type between functional sub-types. Each of these sub-types is coextensive with one type of realizer. By this means, (...)
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  40. When is a Brain Like the Planet?Clark Glymour - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (3):330-347.
    Time series of macroscopic quantities that are aggregates of microscopic quantities, with unknown one‐many relations between macroscopic and microscopic states, are common in applied sciences, from economics to climate studies. When such time series of macroscopic quantities are claimed to be causal, the causal relations postulated are representable by a directed acyclic graph and associated probability distribution—sometimes called a dynamical Bayes net. Causal interpretations of such series imply claims that hypothetical manipulations of macroscopic variables have unambiguous effects on variables “downstream” (...)
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  41. The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience, and Reduction.Maurice Kenneth Davy Schouten & Huibert Looren de Jong (eds.) - 2007 - Blackwell.
    The Matter of the Mind addresses and illuminates the relationship between psychology and neuroscience by focusing on the topic of reduction. Written by leading philosophers in the field Discusses recent theorizing in the mind-brain sciences and reviews and weighs the evidence in favour of reductionism against the backdrop of recent important advances within psychology and the neurosciences Collects the latest work on central topics where neuroscience is now making inroads in traditional psychological terrain, such as adaptive behaviour, reward systems, consciousness, (...)
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  42. Minisymposia-IV Substructuring, Dimension Reduction and Applications-Parallel Algorithms for Balanced Truncation Model Reduction of Sparse Systems.Jose M. Badia, Peter Benner, Rafael Mayo & Enrique S. Quintana-Orti - 2006 - In O. Stock & M. Schaerf (eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 267-275.
  43. Reduction and Renormalization.Robert Batterman - 2006 - In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159--179.
    This paper discusses the alleged reduction of Thermodynamics to Statistical Mechanics. It includes an historical discussion of J. Willard Gibbs' famous caution concerning the connections between thermodynamic properties and statistical mechanical properties---his so-called ``Thermodynamic Analogies.'' The reasons for Gibbs' caution are reconsidered in light of relatively recent work in statistical physics on the existence of the thermodynamic limit and the explanation of critical behavior using the renormalization group apparatus. A probabilistic understanding of the renormalization group arguments allows for a kind (...)
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  44. Reducing Mind to Molecular Pathways: Explicating the Reductionism Implicit in Current Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. [REVIEW]John Bickle - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):411-434.
    As opposed to the dismissive attitude toward reductionism that is popular in current philosophy of mind, a “ruthless reductionism” is alive and thriving in “molecular and cellular cognition”—a field of research within cellular and molecular neuroscience, the current mainstream of the discipline. Basic experimental practices and emerging results from this field imply that two common assertions by philosophers and cognitive scientists are false: (1) that we do not know much about how the brain works, and (2) that lower-level neuroscience cannot (...)
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  45. Reduction as Cognitive Strategy.Cliff A. Hooker - 2006 - In Brian L. Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  46. Minisymposia-IV Substructuring, Dimension Reduction and Applications-Structure-Preserving Model Reduction.Ren-Cang Li & Zhaojun Bai - 2006 - In O. Stock & M. Schaerf (eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 3732--323.
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  47. Emergence and Reduction: Reply to Kim.Ausonio Marras - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):561-569.
    In this paper I examine Jaegwon Kim’s view that emergent properties are irreducible to the base properties on which they supervene. Kim’s view assumes a model of ‘functional reduction’ which he claims to be substantially different from the traditional Nagelian model. I dispute this claim and argue that the two models are only superficially different, and that on either model, properly understood, it is possible to draw a distinction between a property’s being reductively identifiable with its base property and a (...)
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  48. Ontology, Reduction, Emergence: A General Frame.C. Ulises Moulines - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):313-323.
    In a scientific context, ontological commitments should be considered as supervenient over accepted scientific theories. This implies that the primarily ontological notions of reduction and emergence of entities of different kinds should be reformulated in terms of relations between existing empirical theories. For this, in turn, it is most convenient to employ a model-theoretic view of scientific theories: the identity criterion of a scientific theory is essentially given by a class of models. Accordingly, reduction and emergence are to be seen (...)
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  49. Reduction: The Cheshire Cat Problem and a Return to Roots.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):377-402.
    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 (...)
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  50. Reductionism and its Heuristics: Making Methodological Reductionism Honest.William C. Wimsatt - 2006 - Synthese 151 (3):445-475.
    Methodological reductionists practice ‘wannabe reductionism’. They claim that one should pursue reductionism, but never propose how. I integrate two strains in prior work to do so. Three kinds of activities are pursued as “reductionist”. “Successional reduction” and inter-level mechanistic explanation are legitimate and powerful strategies. Eliminativism is generally ill-conceived. Specific problem-solving heuristics for constructing inter-level mechanistic explanations show why and when they can provide powerful and fruitful tools and insights, but sometimes lead to erroneous results. I show how traditional metaphysical (...)
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