Why metaphysical abstinence should prevail in the debate on reductionism

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):105 – 121 (2005)
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Abstract

My main aim in this paper is to show that influential antireductionist arguments such as Fodor's, Kitcher's, and Dupré's state stronger conclusions than they actually succeed in establishing. By putting to the fore the role of metaphysical presuppositions in these arguments, I argue that they are convincing only as 'temporally qualified argument', and not as 'generally valid ones'. I also challenge the validity of the strategy consisting in drawing metaphysical lessons from the failure of reductionist programmes. What most of these antireductionist standpoints have in common is a pretension to methodological imports. I conclude by explaining why, in order to remain relevant for scientific practice, antireductionist arguments should stay clear of metaphysics, for the latter, I argue, does not mix well with a taste for methodological prescriptions.

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