Reduction: Models of cross-scientific relations and their implications for the psychology-neuroscience interface

Robert N. McCauley
Emory University
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 psychology. Richer, more sensitive accounts of explanatory pluralism and mechanistic explanation in science advocate multi-level approaches in cross-scientific settings and criticize the distance of the standard philosophical objections from working scientists’ practices and discoveries. The Heuristic Identity Theory, a new, scientifically informed version of the psycho-physical identity theory, incorporates these insights, showing how multiple realizability is an argument for (not against) identities in science and why, therefore, consciousness is not irreducible.
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