Functionalism, Reductionism, and Levels of Reality

Philosophy of Science:1-26 (2023)
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I consider a problem for functional reductionism, based on the following tension. Say that b is functionally reduced to a. On the one hand, a and b turn out to be identical, and identity is a symmetric relation. On the other hand, functional reductionism implies that a and b are asymmetrically related: if b is functionally reduced to a, then a is not functionally reduced to b. Thus, we ask: how can a and b be asymmetrically related if they are the same thing? I propose a solution to this tension, by distinguishing between ontological levels and levels of description.

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Lorenzo Lorenzetti
University of Bristol

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