Review of Marie Kaiser's Reductive Explanation in the Biological Sciences [Book Review]

Philosophy of Science 85 (3):523-529 (2018)
Authors
Alan Love
University of Minnesota
Abstract
Reductive explanations are psychologically seductive; when given two explanations, people prefer the one that refers to lower-level components or processes to account for the phenomena under consideration even when information about these lower levels is irrelevant (Hopkins, Weisberg, and Taylor 2016). Maybe individuals assume that a reductive explanation is what a scientific explanation should look like (e.g., neuroscience should explain psychology) or presume that information about lower-level components or processes is more explanatory (e.g., molecular detail explains better than anatomical detail). Philosophers have been analyzing reduction for more than half a century (Hüttemann and Love 2016), but neither of these possibilities is a consensus view (even if psychologically applicable). Instead, there is widespread agreement that the landscape of reductionism is complicated, especially in biology (Brigandt and Love 2017). Increasing scrutiny of actual practices within biology and other sciences has often provoked the questions (paraphrasing Alasdair MacIntyre): Whose explanation? Which reductionism? Marie Kaiser’s book—Reductive Explanation in the Biological Sciences—is a decisive intervention into these discussions, offering a wealth of helpful distinctions and new analyses with a healthy focus on scientific practices of explanation.
Keywords Reductive explanation
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DOI 10.1086/697731
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The Limits of Reductionism in the Life Sciences.Marie I. Kaiser - 2011 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (4):453-476.
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