In Matthew Slater & Zanja Yudell (eds.), Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: New Essays. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

Michael Strevens
New York University
Sciences of complex systems thrive on compositional theories – toolkits that allow the construction of models of a wide range of systems, each consisting of various parts put together in different ways. To be tractable, a compositional theory must make shrewd choices about the parts and properties that constitute its basic ontology. One such choice is to decompose a system into spatiotemporally discrete parts. Compositional theories in the high-level sciences follow this rule of thumb to a certain extent, but they also make essential use of what I call distributed ontologies: divisions of the system into entities or states of affairs each depending on sets of fundamental-level facts that to a large extent overlap. The point is developed using the example of statistical theories in which the probabilities are ontologically distributed.
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Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes.Paul Churchland - 1981 - Journal of Philosophy 78 (February):67-90.
Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis.Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:3-36.
Bigger Than Chaos: Understanding Complexity Through Probability. [REVIEW]M. Strevens - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (4):875-882.
How Are the Sciences of Complex Systems Possible?Michael Strevens - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (4):531-556.

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