Philosophers of science have offered different accounts of what it means for one scientific theory to reduce to another. I propose a more or less friendly amendment to Kenneth Schaffner’s “General Reduction-Replacement” model of scientific unification. Schaffner interprets scientific unification broadly in terms of a continuum from theory reduction to theory replacement. As such, his account leaves no place on its continuum for type irreducible and irreplaceable theories. The same is true for other accounts that incorporate Schaffner's continuum, (...) for example, those developed by Paul Churchland, Clifford Hooker, and John Bickle. Yet I believe a more general account of scientific unification should include type irreducible and irreplaceable theories in an account of their partial reduction, specifically, when there is a reduction of their tokens. Thus I propose a “Reduction-Reception-Replacement” model wherein type irreducible and irreplaceable theories are accepted or received for the purpose of unifying domains of particulars. I also suggest a link between this kind of token reduction and mechanistic explanation. (shrink)
This is a companion to another paper. Together they rebut two widespread philosophical doctrines about emergence. The first, and main, doctrine is that emergence is incompatible with reduction. The second is that emergence is supervenience; or more exactly, supervenience without reduction.In the other paper, I develop these rebuttals in general terms, emphasising the second rebuttal. Here I discuss the situation in physics, emphasising the first rebuttal. I focus on limiting relations between theories and illustrate my claims with four (...) examples, each of them a model or a framework for modelling, from well-established mathematics or physics.I take emergence as behaviour that is novel and robust relative to some comparison class. I take reduction as, essentially, deduction. The main idea of my first rebuttal will be to perform the deduction after taking a limit of some parameter. Thus my first main claim will be that in my four examples (and many others), we can deduce a novel and robust behaviour, by taking the limit N→∞ of a parameter N.But on the other hand, this does not show that the N=∞ limit is “physically real”, as some authors have alleged. For my second main claim is that in these same examples, there is a weaker, yet still vivid, novel and robust behaviour that occurs before we get to the limit, i.e. for finite N. And it is this weaker behaviour which is physically real.My examples are: the method of arbitrary functions (in probability theory); fractals (in geometry); superselection for infinite systems (in quantum theory); and phase transitions for infinite systems (in statistical mechanics). (shrink)
This is one of two papers about emergence, reduction and supervenience. It expounds these notions and analyses the general relations between them. The companion paper analyses the situation in physics, especially limiting relations between physical theories. I shall take emergence as behaviour that is novel and robust relative to some comparison class. I shall take reduction as deduction using appropriate auxiliary definitions. And I shall take supervenience as a weakening of reduction, viz. to allow infinitely long definitions. (...) The overall claim of this paper will be that emergence is logically independent both of reduction and of supervenience. In particular, one can have emergence with reduction, as well as without it; and emergence without supervenience, as well as with it. Of the subsidiary claims, the four main ones are: : I defend the traditional Nagelian conception of reduction ; : I deny that the multiple realizability argument causes trouble for reductions, or ``reductionism'' ; : I stress the collapse of supervenience into deduction via Beth's theorem ; : I adapt some examples already in the literature to show supervenience without emergence and vice versa. (shrink)
The combination of corporate-community conflicts and oil transnational corporations' (TNCs) rhetoric about being socially responsible has meant that the issue of community development and poverty reduction have recently moved from the periphery to the heart of strategic business thinking within the Nigerian oil industry. As a result, oil TNCs have increasingly responded to this challenge by adopting partnership strategies as a means to contribute to poverty reductions in their host communities as well as secure their social licence to operate. (...) This paper critically examines the strengths and weaknesses of the different community development partnership (CDPs) initiatives employed by Shell, Exxon Mobil and Total to contribute to poverty reduction within their host communities in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Drawing on empirical data and critical analysis, the paper argues that while the CDP initiatives by SPDC, MPN and EPNL have the potential to contribute to community development, the failure to integrate negative injunction duties into existing partnerships means that the partnerships make no difference to how oil TNCs conduct their core business operation. Consequently, CDPs have had limited positive impact on poverty reduction in the Niger Delta. The paper concludes by examining the implications of the emerging issues for partnership and poverty reduction. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose two theses, and then examine what the consequences of those theses are for discussions of reduction and emergence. The first thesis is that what have traditionally been seen as robust, reductions of one theory or one branch of science by another more fundamental one are a largely a myth. Although there are such reductions in the physical sciences, they are quite rare, and depend on special requirements. In the biological sciences, these prima facie sweeping (...) reductions fade away, like the body of the famous Cheshire cat, leaving only a smile.... The second thesis is that the "smiles" are fragmentary patchy explanations, and though patchy and fragmentary, they are very important, potentially Nobel-prize winning advances. To get the best grasp of these "smiles," I want to argue that, we need to return to the roots of discussions and analyses of scientific explanation more generally, and not focus mainly on reduction models, though three conditions based on earlier reduction models are retained in the present analysis. I briefly review the scientific explanation literature as it relates to reduction, and then offer my account of explanation. The account of scientific explanation I present is one I have discussed before, but in this paper I try to simplify it, and characterize it as involving field elements and a preferred causal model system abbreviated as FE and PCMS. In an important sense, this FE and PCMS analysis locates an "explanation" in a typical scientific research article. This FE and PCMS account is illustrated using a recent set of neurogenetic papers on two kinds of worm foraging behaviors: solitary and social feeding. One of the preferred model systems from a 2002 Nature article in this set is used to exemplify the FE and PCMS analysis, which is shown to have both reductive and nonreductive aspects. The paper closes with a brief discussion of how this FE and PCMS approach differs from and is congruent with Bickle's "ruthless reductionism" and the recently revived mechanistic philosophy of science of Machamer, Darden, and Craver. (shrink)
Philosophers of science since Nagel have been interested in the links between intertheoretic reduction and explanation, understanding and other forms of epistemic progress. Although intertheoretic reduction is widely agreed to occur in pure mathematics as well as empirical science, the relationship between reduction and explanation in the mathematical setting has rarely been investigated in a similarly serious way. This paper examines an important particular case: the reduction of arithmetic to set theory. I claim that the (...) class='Hi'>reduction is unexplanatory. In defense of this claim, I offer evidence from mathematical practice, and I respond to contrary suggestions due to Steinhart, Maddy, Kitcher and Quine. I then show how, even if set-theoretic reductions are generally not explanatory, set theory can nevertheless serve as a legitimate foundation for mathematics. Finally, some implications of my thesis for philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science are discussed. In particular, I suggest that some reductions in mathematics are probably explanatory, and I propose that differing standards of theory acceptance might account for the apparent lack of unexplanatory reductions in the empirical sciences. (shrink)
Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind /body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more dualistic or that (...) bring in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it. (shrink)
In Mind in a Physical World (1998), Jaegwon Kim has recently extended his ongoing critique of `non-reductive materialist' positions in philosophy of mind by arguing that Nagel's model of reduction is the wrong paradigm in terms of which to contest the issue of psychophysical reduction, and that an altogether different model of scientific reduction – a functional model of reduction – is needed. In this paper I argue, first, that Kim's conception of the Nagelian model is (...) substantially impoverished and potentially misleading; second, that his own functional model is problematic in several respects; and, third, that the basic idea underlying his functional model can well be accommodated within a properly reinterpreted Nagelian model. I conclude with some reflections on the issue of psychophysical reduction. (shrink)
In Phenomenological Reduction in Heidegger's Sein und Zeit: a New Proposal, Matheson Russell investigates the indebtedness of the Heidegger of Being and Time to Husserl's transcendental phenomenology by way of distinguishing in it differing types of transcendental reduction. He supplies an overview of recent attempts to identify such reductions in order then to propose a new interpretation locating two levels of reduction in Heidegger's fundamental ontology. These concern, first, an enquiry going back to the horizon of 'existence', (...) and, second, one going back to the horizon of 'temporality'. While the first level is argued to be explicit in the published text, the second, Russell claims, lies within the horizon of the unfinished parts of Being and Time. (shrink)
We introduce a new model of reduction inspired by Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model [Kemeny & Oppenheim 1956] and argue that this model is operative in a “ruthlessly reductive” part of current neuroscience. Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model was quickly rejected in mid-20th-century philosophy of science and replaced by models developed by Ernest Nagel and Kenneth Schaffner [Nagel 1961], [Schaffner 1967]. We think that Kemeny and Oppenheim’s model was correctly rejected, given what a “theory of reduction” was supposed to account (...) for at that time. But their guiding insights about what constitutes scientific reduction—increases in explanatory scope and systematization—reflect actual practices of current reductionistic neuroscience. The key rehabilitative step to make their insights fit current scientific details is to restate them using resources from recent work on causal-mechanistic explanation. We begin with a scientific case study, drawn from the relatively new field of “molecular and cellular cognition”. It provides an explanation of the well-known Ebbinghaus spacing effect on learning and memory in terms of interactions between a transcriptional enhancer protein and its inhibiting phosphatase in neurons recruited into the memory trace. Next we briefly describe some popular models of reduction from mid-20th-century philosophy of science. We point out how these models fail to illuminate key features of our scientific case study. Finally we present our causal-mechanistically updated Kemeny and Oppenheim-inspired model and argue that it nicely accounts for the details of our scientific case study. We close with a remark that will hopefully undercut the surprise many may feel to learn that a long-rejected philosophical account of reduction actually is at work in one of the most prominent reductionistic endeavors in current science. (shrink)
among them Joseph Levine, David Chalmers, Frank Jackson and Jaegwon Kim?have claimed that there are conceptual grounds sufficient for ruling out the possibility of a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Their claim assumes a functional model of reduction which requires an a priori entailment from the facts in the reduction base to the phenomena to be explained. The aim of this paper is to show that this is an unreasonable requirement?a requirement that no reductive explanation in science should (...) be expected to satisfy. I argue that the functional model is not substantively different from the Nagelian model properly understood, and that the question whether consciousness is reductively explainable?in a sense involving property identifications or in some weaker sense compatible with Nagelian reduction?is a fundamentally empirical question, not one that can be settled on conceptual grounds alone. Introduction Kim's critique of the Nagelian model of reduction The functional model of reduction Is consciousness reducible? Psychophysical reduction: concluding remarks. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the claim that the successful reduction of qualitative to physical states requires some sort of intelligible connection between our qualitative and physical concepts, which in turn requires a conceptual analysis of our qualitative concepts in causal-functional terms. While I defend this claim against some of its recent critics, I ultimately dispute it, and propose a different way to get the requisite intelligible connection between qualitative and physical concepts.
Reductionism is a central issue in the philosophy of biology. One common objection to reduction is that molecular explanation requires reference to higher-level properties, which I refer to as the context objection. I respond to this objection by arguing that a well-articulated notion of a mechanism and what I term mechanism extension enables one to accommodate the context-dependence of biological processes within a reductive explanation. The existence of emergent features in the context could be raised as an objection to (...) the possibility of reduction via this strategy. I argue that this objection can be overcome by showing that there is no tenable argument for the existence of emergent properties that are not susceptible to a reductive explanation. (shrink)
In a recent critique of the doctrine of emergentism championed by its classic advocates up to C. D. Broad, Jaegwon Kim (Philosophical Studies 63:31–47, 1999) challenges their view about its applicability to the sciences and proposes a new account of how the opposing notion of reduction should be understood. Kim is critical of the classic conception advanced by Nagel and uses his new account in his criticism of emergentism. I question his claims about the successful reduction achieved in (...) the sciences and argue that his new account has not improved on Nagel’s and that the critique of emergentism he bases on it is question-begging in important respects. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
A mechanism describing state reduction dynamics in relativistic quantum field theory is outlined. The mechanism involves nonlinear stochastic modifications to the standard description of unitary state evolution and the introduction of a relativistic field in which a quantized degree of freedom is associated to each point in spacetime. The purpose of this field is to mediate in the interaction between classical stochastic influences and conventional quantum fields. The equations of motion are Lorentz covariant, frame independent, and do not result (...) in divergent behavior. It is shown that the mathematical framework permits the specification of unambiguous local properties providing a connection between the model and evidence of real world phenomena. The collapse process is demonstrated for an idealized example. (shrink)
Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using examples (...) from specific QG approaches. Reduction is argued to be a special case of correspondence, and to form part of the definition of QG. Finally, the appropriate account of emergence in the context of QG is presented, and compared to conceptions of emergence in the broader philosophy literature. It is argued that, while emergence is likely to hold between QG and general relativity, emergence is not part of the definition of QG, and nor can it serve usefully in the development and justification of the new theory. (shrink)
Some theorists who emphasize the complexity of biological and cognitive systems and who advocate the employment of the tools of dynamical systems theory in explaining them construe complexity and reduction as exclusive alternatives. This paper argues that reduction, an approach to explanation that decomposes complex activities and localizes the components within the complex system, is not only compatible with an emphasis on complexity, but provides the foundation for dynamical analysis. Explanation via decomposition and localization is nonetheless extremely challenging, (...) and an analysis of recent cognitive neuroscience research on memory is used to illustrate what is involved. Memory researchers split between advocating memory systems and advocating memory processes, and I argue that it is the latter approach that provides the critical sort of decomposition and localization for explaining memory. The challenges of linking distinguishable functions with brain processes is illustrated by two examples: competing hypotheses about the contribution of the hippocampus and competing attempts to link areas in frontal cortex with memory processing. (shrink)
Nagel’s official model of theory-reduction and the way it is represented in the literature are shown to be incompatible with the careful remarks on the notion of reduction Nagel gave while developing his model. Based on these remarks, an alternative model is outlined which does not face some of the problems the official model faces. Taking the context in which Nagel developed his model into account, it is shown that the way Nagel shaped his model and, thus, its (...) well-known deficiencies, are best conceived of as a mere by-product of his philosophical background. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the ontological interpretation of the concepts of reduction and emergence is often misleading in the philosophy of science and should nearly always be eschewed in favor of an epistemological interpretation. As a paradigm case, an example is drawn from the philosophy of chemistry to illustrate the drawbacks of “ontological reduction” and “ontological emergence,” and the virtues of an epistemological interpretation of these concepts.
The emerging concept of food sovereignty refers to the right of communities, peoples, and states to independently determine their own food and agricultural policies. It raises the question of which type of food production, agriculture and rural development should be pursued to guarantee food security for the world population. Social movements and non-governmental organizations have readily integrated the concept into their terminology. The concept is also beginning to find its way into the debates and policies of UN organizations and national (...) governments in both developing and industrialized countries. Beyond its relation to civil society movements little academic attention has been paid to the concept of food sovereignty and its appropriateness for international development policies aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, especially in comparison to the human right to adequate food (RtAF). We analyze, on the basis of an extensive literature review, the concept of food sovereignty with regard to its ability to contribute to hunger and poverty reduction worldwide as well as the challenges attached to this concept. Then, we compare the concept of food sovereignty with the RtAF and discuss the appropriateness of both concepts for national public sector policy makers and international development policies. We conclude that the impact on global food security is likely to be much greater if the RtAF approach predominated public policies. While the concept of food sovereignty may be appropriate for civil society movements, we recommend that the RtAF should obtain highest priority in national and international agricultural, trade and development policies. (shrink)
The entropy-reduction hypothesis claims that the cognitive processing difficulty on a word in sentence context is determined by the word's effect on the uncertainty about the sentence. Here, this hypothesis is tested more thoroughly than has been done before, using a recurrent neural network for estimating entropy and self-paced reading for obtaining measures of cognitive processing load. Results show a positive relation between reading time on a word and the reduction in entropy due to processing that word, supporting (...) the entropy-reduction hypothesis. Although this effect is independent from the effect of word surprisal, we find no evidence that these two measures correspond to cognitively distinct processes. (shrink)
Kim’s model of ‘functional reduction’ of properties is shown to fail in a class of cases from physics involving properties at different spatial levels. The diagnosis of this failure leads to a non-reductive account of the relation of micro and macro properties.
Background: how mind functions is subject to continuing scientific discussion. A simplistic approach says that, since no convincing way has been found to model subjective experience, mind cannot exist. A second holds that, since mind cannot be described by classical physics, it must be described by quantum physics. Another perspective concerns mind's hypothesized ability to interact with the world of quanta: it should be responsible for reduction of quantum wave packets; physics producing 'Objective Reduction' is postulated to form (...) the basis for mind-matter interactions. This presentation describes results derived from a new approach to these problems. It is based on well-established biology involving physics not previously applied to the fields of mind, or consciousness studies, that of critical feedback instability. -/- Methods: 'self-organized criticality' in complexity biology places system loci of control at critical instabilities, physical properties of which, including information properties, are presented. Their elucidation shows that they can model hitherto unexplained properties of experience. -/- Results: All results depend on physical properties of critical instabilities. First, at least one feed-back or feed-forward loop must have feedback gain, g = 1: information flows round the loop impress perfect images of system states back on themselves: they represent processes of perfect self-observation. This annihilates system quanta: system excitations are instability fluctuations, which cannot be quantized. Major results follow: -/- 1. Information vectors representing criticality states must include at least one attached information loop denoting self-observation. -/- 2. Such loop structures are attributed a function, 'registering the state's own existence', explaining -/- a. Subjective 'awareness of one's own presence' -/- b. How content-free states of awareness can be remembered (Jon Shear) -/- c. Subjective experience of time duration (Immanuel Kant) -/- d. The 'witness' property of experience – often mentioned by athletes 'in the zone' -/- e. The natural association between consciousness and intelligence -/- This novel, physically and biologically sound approach seems to satisfactorily model subjectivity. -/- Further significant results follow: -/- 1. Registration of external information in excited states of systems at criticality reduces external wave-packets: the new model exhibits 'Objective Reduction' of wave packets. -/- 2. High internal coherence (postulated by Domash & Penrose) leading to a. Non-separable information vector bundles. b. Non-reductive states (Chalmers's criterion for experience). -/- 3. Information that is: a. encoded in coherence negentropy; b. non-digitizable, and therefore c. computationally without digital equivalent (posited by Penrose). -/- Discussion and Conclusions: instability physics implies anharmonic motion, preventing excitation quantization, and totally different from the quantum physics of simple harmonic motion at stability. Instability excitations are different from anything hitherto conceived in information science. They can model aspects of mind never previously treated, including genuine subjectivity, objective reduction of wave-packets, and inter alia all properties given above. (shrink)
This chapter discusses several kinds of reduction that are often found in the biomedical sciences, in contrast to reduction in fields such as physics. This includes reduction as a methodological assumption for how to investigate phenomena like complex diseases, and reduction as a conceptual tool for relating distinct models of the same phenomenon. The case of Parkinson’s disease illustrates a wide variety of ways in which reductionism is an important tool in medicine.
A closer look at some proposed Gedanken-experiments on BECs promises to shed light on several aspects of reduction and emergence in physics. These include the relations between classical descriptions and different quantum treatments of macroscopic systems, and the emergence of new properties and even new objects as a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
This paper examines the role of clinical practitioners and clinical researchers internationally in establishing the utility of harm-reduction approaches to substance use. It thus illustrates the potential for clinicians to play a pivotal role in health promoting structural interventions based on harm-reduction goals and public health models. Popular media images of drug use as uniformly damaging, and abstinence as the only acceptable goal of treatment, threaten to distort clinical care away from a basis in evidence, which shows that (...) some ways of using drugs are far more harmful than others and that punitive approaches and insistence on total abstinence as the only goal of treatment often increases the harms of drug use rather than reducing drug use. Therefore the leadership and scientific authority of clinicians who understand the health impact of harm-reduction strategies is needed. Through a review of harm-reduction interventions in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, we identify three ways that clinicians have helped to achieve a paradigm shift from punitive approaches to harm-reduction principles in clinical care and in drug policy: through clinical research to provide data establishing the effectiveness and feasibility of harm-reduction approaches, by developing innovative clinical programmes that employ harm reduction, and thereby changing the standard of care to include routine use of these evidence-based approaches in their practices. We argue that through promotion of harm-reduction goals and methods, clinicians have unique opportunities to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations. (shrink)
Rom Harré thinks that the Emergence–Reduction debate, conceived as a vertical problem, is partly ill posed. Even if he doesn’t wholly reject the traditional definition of an emergent property as a property of a collection but not of its components, his point is that this definition doesn’t exhaust all the dimensions of emergence. According to Harré there is another kind (or dimension) of emergence, which we may call—somewhat paradoxically—“horizontal emergence”: two properties of a substance are horizontally emergent relative to (...) each other if they cannot be displayed in the same conditions. Contrary to vertical emergence, horizontal emergence is a symmetrical relation. Harré endorses horizontal emergentism. I argue that this position faces a principled difficulty: it makes it impossible to bind different horizontally emergent discourses in an interesting way. Physics and biology for example become “island” discourses, each speaking of a distinct kind of entities. The only way to ensure that two different discourses can relate to the same entity is to reintroduce verticality into the picture. (shrink)
Recently, some mechanists have embraced reductionism and some reductionists have endorsed mechanism. However, the two camps disagree sharply about the extent to which mechanistic explanation is a reductionistic enterprise. Reductionists maintain that cellular and molecular mechanisms can explain mental phenomena without necessary appeal to higher-level mechanisms. Mechanists deny this claim. I argue that this dispute turns on whether reduction is a transitive relation. I show that it is. Therefore, mechanistic explanations at the cellular and molecular level explain mental phenomena. (...) I make my case in part by noting that mechanisms at higher levels are composed of mechanisms at lower levels. Compositional relations are transitive. In addition, they are explanatory. I conclude that there are explanatory linkages from cellular and molecular mechanisms to mental phenomena within a hierarchy of nested mechanisms. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Jaegwon Kim’s view that emergent properties are irreducible to the base properties on which they supervene. Kim’s view assumes a model of ‘functional reduction’ which he claims to be substantially different from the traditional Nagelian model. I dispute this claim and argue that the two models are only superficially different, and that on either model, properly understood, it is possible to draw a distinction between a property’s being reductively identifiable with its base property and (...) a property’s being reductively explainable in terms of it. I propose that we should take as the distinguishing feature of emergent properties that they be truly novel properties, i.e., ontologically distinct from the ‘base’ properties which they supervene on. This only requires that emergent properties cannot be reductively identified with their base properties, not that they cannot be reductively explained in terms of them. On this conception the set of emergent properties may well include mental properties as conceived by nonreductive physicalists. (shrink)
The claim that reduction entails grounding (but not vice versa) – called ‘the grounding-reduction link’ – is potentially very important but not clearly correct. After working through a fruitful debate between Gideon Rosen (who maintains the link) and Paul Audi (who maintains its impossibility), I distinguish between what I call ‘strict’ and ‘broad’ reduction. Strict reduction is incompatible with grounding, but broad reduction is not. Thus the link is possible, at least for broad reduction. (...) However, neither strict nor broad reduction entails grounding. Ultimately, there may be a link between grounding and some highly qualified form of reduction. However, the philosophical traction that one might hope to gain for grounding via such a link is considerably diminished if not outright lost. (shrink)
I claim that the question of whether chemistry is reduced to quantum mechanics is more ambiguous and multi-faceted than generally supposed. For example, chemistry appears to be both reduced and not reduced at the same time depending on the perspective that one adopts. Similarly, I argue that some conceptual issues in quantum mechanics are ambiguous and can only be laid to rest by embracing paradox and ambiguity rather than regarding them as obstacles to be overcome. Recent work in the (...) class='Hi'>reduction of chemistry is also reviewed, including discussions of the ontological reduction of chemistry and the question of the emergence of chemistry from physics. (shrink)
In his recent article ‘Consciousness and Reduction’, Ausonio Marras argues that functional reduction must appeal to bridge laws and thus does not represent a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. In response, I first argue that even if functional reduction must use bridge laws, it still represents a genuine alternative to Nagelian reduction. Further, I argue that Marras does not succeed in showing that functional reduction must use bridge laws. Introduction Nagelian Reduction, Functional (...) class='Hi'>Reduction, and Bridge Laws Marras on Functional Reduction The Logical Space of ‘Bridge Law’ Views of Reduction [RP] as an Account of Realization Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
I critically evaluate Bickle’s version of scientific theory reduction. I press three main points. First, a small point, Bickle modifies the new wave account of reduction developed by Paul Churchland and Clifford Hooker by treating theories as set-theoretic structures. But that structuralist gloss seems to lose what was distinctive about the Churchland-Hooker account, namely, that a corrected theory must be specified entirely by terms and concepts drawn from the basic reducing theory. Set-theoretic structures are not terms or concepts (...) but the structures that they describe. Second, and more serious, a familiar problem for classical positivist account of reduction resurfaces within this newest wave of thinking, namely, commitment to property identities and inter-theoretic bridge laws (a problem I discussed at more length in "Collapse of the New Wave"). Indeed, this problem is exacerbated by Bickle’s conciliatory treatment of property plasticity, since he is willing to grant that a large number of special science terms denote multiply realized properties, at least if realistically construed. Still, in the end, Bickle sidesteps the reduction of properties by appealing to Hooker’s "function-to-structure token reduction." This is an interesting move with an intriguing concept of reduction. But problems remain. For, third, Bickle and Hooker's function-to-structure token reduction is actually a guised form of eliminative materialism. But that should be unacceptable since the position extends well beyond any modest revisionism for suspect items from a folk theory, say, in folk psychology or folk biology. Instead, it applies to functional terms and concepts employed throughout well-developed and explanatorily successful sciences. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it is finally time to move beyond the Nagelian framework and to break new ground in thinking about epistemic reduction in biology. I will do so, not by simply repeating all the old objections that have been raised against Ernest Nagel’s classical model of theory reduction. Rather, I grant that a proponent of Nagel’s approach can handle several of these problems but that, nevertheless, Nagel’s general way of thinking about epistemic reduction (...) in terms of theories and their logical relations is entirely inadequate with respect to what is going on in actual biological research practice. (shrink)
David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is (...) often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections. (shrink)
There is a consistent and simple interpretation of the quantum theory of isolated systems. The interpretation suffers no measurement problem and provides a quantum explanation of state reduction, which is usually postulated. Quantum entanglement plays an essential role in the construction of the interpretation.
This proposes a new theory of Quantum measurement; a state reduction theory in which reduction is to the elements of the number operator basis of a system, triggered by the occurrence of annihilation or creation (or lowering or raising) operators in the time evolution of a system. It is from these operator types that the acronym ‘LARC’ is derived. Reduction does not occur immediately after the trigger event; it occurs at some later time with probability P t (...) per unit time, where P t is very small. Localisation of macroscopic objects occurs in the natural way: photons from an illumination field are reflected off a body and later absorbed by another body. Each possible absorption of a photon by a molecule in the second body generates annihilation and raising operators, which in turn trigger a probability per unit time P t of a state reduction into the number operator basis for the photon field and the number operator basis of the electron orbitals of the molecule. Since all photons in the illumination field have come from the location of the first body, wherever that is, a single reduction leads to a reduction of the position state of the first body relative to the second, with a total probability of mP t , where m is the number of photon absorption events. Unusually for a reduction theory, the larc theory is naturally relativistic. (shrink)
Scholars are divided as to whether reduction should be a central strategy for understanding the world. While reductive analysis is the standard mode of explanation in many areas of science and everyday life, many consider reductionism a sign of “intellectual naivete and backwardness.” In this paper I make three points about the proper status of anti-reductionism: First, reduction, is, in fact, a centrally important epistemic strategy. Second, reduction to physics is always possible for all causal properties. Third, (...) there are, nevertheless, reasons we want science to discover properties and explanations other than reductive physical ones. (shrink)
I distinguish two types of reduction within the context of quantum-classical relations, which I designate “formal” and “empirical”. Formal reduction holds or fails to hold solely by virtue of the mathematical relationship between two theories; it is therefore a two-place, a priori relation between theories. Empirical reduction requires one theory to encompass the range of physical behaviors that are well-modeled in another theory; in a certain sense, it is a three-place, a posteriori relation connecting the theories and (...) the domain of physical reality that both serve to describe. Focusing on the relationship between classical and quantum mechanics, I argue that while certain formal results concerning singular \ limits have been taken to preclude the possibility of reduction between these theories, such results at most provide support for the claim that singular limits block reduction in the formal sense; little if any reason has been given for thinking that they block reduction in the empirical sense. I then briefly outline a strategy for empirical reduction that is suggested by work on decoherence theory, arguing that this sort of account remains a fully viable route to the empirical reduction of classical to quantum mechanics and is unaffected by such singular limits. (shrink)
Starting from Dennett's distinction between personal and sub-personal levels of description, I consider the relationships amongst three levels: the personal level, the level of information-processing mechanisms, and the level of neurobiology. I defend a conception of the relationship between the personal level and the sub-personal level of information-processing mechanisms as interaction without reduction . Even given a nonreductionist conception of persons, philosophical theorizing sometimes supports downward inferences from the personal to the sub-personal level. An example of a downward inference (...) is provided and an objection is considered. (shrink)
Recent debates about the metaphysics of mind have tended to assume that inter-theoretic reductions are the norm in the natural sciences. With this assumption in place, the apparent explanatory gaps surrounding consciousness and intentionality seem unique, fascinating, and perhaps metaphysically significant. Over the past several decades, however, philosophers of science have largely rejected the notions that inter-theoretic reduction is either widespread in the natural sciences or a litmus for the legitimacy of the special sciences. If we adopt a post-reductionist (...) philosophy of science, with a commitment to theory pluralism, the epistemic statuses of the standard positions in philosophy of mind (reductionism, non-reductive physicalism, dualism) are all significantly changed. Moreover, central problems of recent philosophy of mind – reducibility and the explanatory gap – seem themselves to be in need of rethinking if reductions are rare and the sciences have “explanatory gaps all the way down.” This article examines the prospects of the standard metaphysical positions, plus two types of pluralism, in light of post-reductionist philosophy of science. (shrink)
Three public opinion studies examined public attitudes toward prevalence reduction (PR; reducing the number of people engaging in an activity) and harm reduction (HR; reducing the harm associated with an activity) across a wide variety of domains. Studies 1 and 2 were telephone surveys of California adults’ views on PR and HR strategies for a wide range of risk domains (heroin, alcoholism, tobacco, skateboarding, teen sex, illegal immigration, air pollution, and fast food). “Moral outrage” items (immoral, disgusting, irresponsible, (...) dangerous) predicted preference for PR over HR, with disgust the most important predictor. In contrast, preferences were not predicted by whether the risk behavior was common, no one else’s business, or harmless. Study 3 explored whether there are domains where liberals might reject HR. A sample of liberal students preferred HR > PR for heroin, but PR > HR for ritual female circumcision; path analysis suggested that this reversal was explained by moral outrage rather than consequentialist judgments of harm to self and harm to others. (shrink)
Micro Credit (MC) programs lend money to poor borrowers using innovative mechanisms such as group lending under joint liability while successfully accounting for the presence of asymmetric information in underdeveloped financial markets. MC programs have achieved what the conventional financial institutions and the government have not been able to: lend to the poor, impressive loan recuperation, and a positive impact in poverty reduction. This article analyzes the performance of ALSOL, an MC program in Chiapas, México, for 2151 participants in (...) urban and rural areas for the time period between July 2000 and July 2001. While loan recuperation is high (95%), administrative costs also remain high. Socially responsible lenders and donors play a key role in providing continuous funding to MC programs and assisting in reducing the level of poverty. (shrink)
This is a first tentative examination of the possibility of reinstating reduction as a valid candidate for presenting relations between mental and physical properties. Classical Nagelian reduction is undoubtedly contaminated in many ways, but here I investigate the possibility of adapting to problems concerning mental properties an alternative definition for theory reduction in philosophy of science. The definition I offer is formulated with the aid of non-monotonic logic, which I suspect might be a very interesting realm for (...) testing notions concerning localized mental-physical reduction. The reason for this is that non-monotonic reasoning by definition is about appeals made not only to explicit observations, but also to an implicit selection of background knowledge containing heuristic information. The flexibility of this definition and the fact that it is not absolute, i.e. that the relation of reduction may be retracted or allowed to shift without fuss, add at least an interesting alternative factor to current materialist debates. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 25(2) 2006: 102-112. (shrink)
Psychoneural reduction is under attack again, only this time from a former ally: cognitive neuroscience. It has become popular to think of the brain as a complex system whose theoretically important properties emerge from dynamic, non-linear interactions between its component parts. ``Emergence'' is supposed to replace reduction: the latter is thought to be incapable of explaining the brain qua complex system. Rather than engage this issue at the level of theories of reduction versus theories of emergence, I (...) here emphasize a role that reductionism plays – and will continue to play – even if neuroscience adopts this ``complex systems'' view. In detailed investigations into the function of complex neural circuits, certain questions can only be addressed by moving down levels and scales. This role for reduction also finds a place for approaches that dominate mainstream neuroscience, like the widespread use of experimental techniques and theories from molecular biology and biochemistry. These are difficult to reconcile with the anti-reductionist sentiments of the ``complex systems'' branch of cognitive neuroscience. (shrink)
In the last two sections of Structure, Thomas Kuhn first develops his famous threefold conception of the incommensurability of scientific paradigms and, subsequently, a conception of scientific progress as growth of empirical strength. The latter conception seems to be at odds with the former in that semantic incommensurability appears to imply the existence of situations where scientific progress in Kuhns sense can no longer exist. In contrast to this seeming inconsistency of Kuhns conception, we will try to show in this (...) study that the semantic incommensurability of scientific terms appears to be fully compatible with scientific progress. Our argumentation is based on an improved version of the formalization of Kuhns conception as developed in the 1970s by Joseph Sneed and Wolfgang Stegmüller: In order to be comparable, incommensurable theories need the specification of relations that refer to the concrete ontologies of these theories and involve certain truth claims. The original structuralist account of reduction fails to provide such relations, because (1) it is too structural and (2) it is too wide. Moreover, the original structuralist account also fails to cover important cases of incommensurable theories in being too restrictive for them. In this paper, we develop an improved notion of “reduction” that allows us to avoid these shortcomings by means of a more flexible device for the formalization of (partially reductive) relations between theories. For that purpose, we use a framework of rigid logic, i.e., logic that is based on a fixed collection of objects. (shrink)