Authors
Joshua Rosaler
Oxford University
Abstract
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, which defines reduction between theories in terms of a more fundamental notion of reduction between models of a single fixed system, is available in such cases and moreover suffices to uphold the conventional wisdom. To illustrate the sort of fixed-system, inter-model reduction that grounds inter-theoretic reduction on this picture, I specialize to a particular class of cases in which both models are dynamical systems. I show that reduction in these cases is underwritten by a mathematical relationship that follows the broad prescriptions of Nagel/Schaffner reduction, and support this claim with several examples. Moreover, I show that this broadly Nagelian analysis of inter-model reduction encompasses several cases that are sometimes cited as instances of the "physicist's" limit-based notion of reduction.
Keywords reduction  emergence  local  global  dynamical systems  model  inter-theory relations  physics
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2015.02.004
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References found in this work BETA

Psychological Predicates.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - In W. H. Capitan & D. D. Merrill (eds.), Art, Mind, and Religion. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 37--48.
Multiple Realization and the Metaphysics of Reduction.Jaegwon Kim - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (1):1-26.

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Citations of this work BETA

Reduction as an a Posteriori Relation.Joshua Rosaler - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):269-299.
Interpretation Neutrality in the Classical Domain of Quantum Theory.Joshua Rosaler - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 53:54-72.
L'empirisme modal.Quentin Ruyant - 2017 - Dissertation, Université Rennes 1

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Asymptotics, Reduction and Emergence.C. A. Hooker - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (3):435-479.
There is Good Physics in Theory Reduction.Fritz Rohrlich - 1990 - Foundations of Physics 20 (11):1399-1412.
Reduction and Genetics.David L. Hull - 1981 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (2):125-144.
Approaches to Reduction.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (2):137-147.

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