In this paper I examine Chalmers and Jackson’s defence of the a priori entailment thesis, that is, the claim that microphysical truths a priori entail ordinary non-phenomenal truths such as ‘water covers 60% of the Earth surface’, which they use as a premise for an argument against the possibility of a reductiveexplanation of consciousness. Their argument relies on a certain view about the possession conditions of macroscopic concepts such as WATER, known as ascriptivism. In the paper I (...) distinguish two versions of ascriptivism: reductive versus non-reductive ascriptivism. According to reductive ascriptivism, competent users of a concept have the ability to infer truths involving such concept from lower-level truths, whereas according to non-reductive ascriptivism, all that is required in order to be a competent user of a concept is to be able to infer truths involving that concept from other truths, which need not be lower-level truths. I argue, first, that the a priori entailment thesis is committed to reductive ascriptivism, and secondly, that reductive ascriptivism is problematic because it trivializes the notion of a priori knowledge. Therefore, I conclude that Chalmers and Jackson have not presented a convincing case for the claim that microphysical truths entail ordinary non-phenomenal truths a priori, especially when we understand this claim in the sense that is relevant for their argument against the possibility of a reductiveexplanation of consciousness. (shrink)
Reductive explanations are psychologically seductive; when given two explanations, people prefer the one that refers to lower-level components or processes to account for the phenomena under consideration even when information about these lower levels is irrelevant (Hopkins, Weisberg, and Taylor 2016). Maybe individuals assume that a reductiveexplanation is what a scientific explanation should look like (e.g., neuroscience should explain psychology) or presume that information about lower-level components or processes is more explanatory (e.g., molecular detail explains (...) better than anatomical detail). Philosophers have been analyzing reduction for more than half a century (Hüttemann and Love 2016), but neither of these possibilities is a consensus view (even if psychologically applicable). Instead, there is widespread agreement that the landscape of reductionism is complicated, especially in biology (Brigandt and Love 2017). Increasing scrutiny of actual practices within biology and other sciences has often provoked the questions (paraphrasing Alasdair MacIntyre): Whose explanation? Which reductionism? Marie Kaiser’s book—ReductiveExplanation in the Biological Sciences—is a decisive intervention into these discussions, offering a wealth of helpful distinctions and new analyses with a healthy focus on scientific practices of explanation. (shrink)
In this paper, the relation between identity-based reduction and one specific sort of reductiveexplanation is considered. The notion of identity-based reduction is spelled out and its role in the reduction debate is sketched. An argument offered by Jaegwon Kim, which is supposed to show that identity-based reduction and reductiveexplanation are incompatible, is critically examined. From the discussion of this argument, some important consequences about the notion of reduction are pointed out.
In the light of what appear to be clear counterexamples, I argue that Jaegwon Kim’s comparative evaluation of functional reduction and reduction via necessary identities is problematic. I trace the problem to two sources: a misplaced metaphysical assumption about the explanatory role of identities and an excessively strong and narrow criterion for successful reductiveexplanation. Appreciating where Kim’s critique runs astray enhances our understanding of the role of necessary identities in reductiveexplanation.
Is conceptual analysis required for reductiveexplanation? If there is no a priori entailment from microphysical truths to phenomenal truths, does reductiveexplanation of the phenomenal fail? We say yes . Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker say no.
This paper examines a paradigm case of allegedly successful reductiveexplanation, viz. the explanation of the fact that water boils at 100°C based on facts about H2O. The case figures prominently in Joseph Levine’s explanatory gap argument against physicalism. The paper studies the way the argument evolved in the writings of Levine, focusing especially on the question how the reductiveexplanation of boiling water figures in the argument. It will turn out that there are two (...) versions of the explanatory gap argument to be found in Levine’s writings. The earlier version relies heavily on conceptual analysis and construes reductiveexplanation as a process of deduction. The later version makes do without conceptual analysis and understands reductive explanations as based on theoretic reductions that are justified by explanatory power. Along the way will be shown that the bridge principles — which are being neglected in the explanatory gap literature — play a crucial role in the explanatory gap argument. (shrink)
Back cover: This book develops a philosophical account that reveals the major characteristics that make an explanation in the life sciences reductive and distinguish them from non-reductive explanations. Understanding what reductive explanations are enables one to assess the conditions under which reductive explanations are adequate and thus enhances debates about explanatory reductionism. The account of reductiveexplanation presented in this book has three major characteristics. First, it emerges from a critical reconstruction of the (...) explanatory practice of the life sciences itself. Second, the account is monistic since it specifies one set of criteria that apply to explanations in the life sciences in general. Finally, the account is ontic in that it traces the reductivity of an explanation back to certain relations that exist between objects in the world (such as part-whole relations and level relations), rather than to the logical relations between sentences. Beginning with a disclosure of the meta-philosophical assumptions that underlie the author’s analysis of reductiveexplanation, the book leads into the debate about reduction(ism) in the philosophy of biology and continues with a discussion on the two perspectives on explanatory reduction that have been proposed in the philosophy of biology so far. The author scrutinizes how the issue of reduction becomes entangled with explanation and analyzes two concepts, the concept of a biological part and the concept of a level of organization. The results of these five chapters constitute the ground on which the author bases her final chapter, developing her ontic account of reductiveexplanation. (shrink)
The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductiveexplanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part–whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductiveexplanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on (...) these aspects generates new forms of reductiveexplanation and conditions for their success or failure in biology and other sciences. This analysis is illustrated using the case of protein folding in molecular biology, which demonstrates its applicability and relevance, as well as illuminating the complexity of reductive reasoning in a specific biological context. (shrink)
This essay considers a mixed-effects modeling practice and its implications for the philosophical debate surrounding reductiveexplanation. Mixed-effects modeling is a species of the multilevel modeling practice, where a single model incorporates simultaneously two levels of explanatory variables to explain a phenomenon of interest. I argue that this practice makes the position of explanatory reductionism held by many philosophers untenable, because it violates two central tenets of explanatory reductionism: single level preference and lower-level obsession.
This paper details an evolving dynamic systems hierarchy and explores its relationship with conceptual, evolutionary, physiological, and behavioural characteristics that include phenomenal experience. In doing this, the paper demonstrates an example of a type-C physicalist's reductiveexplanation of phenomenal experience that is coherent with stipulated philosophical criteria and theories. By providing a reductiveexplanation of phenomenal experience, the paper provides insights toward explaining many unique human characteristics. These include, creativity, the origins of language as distinct from (...) animal communication, the evolution of morality, and the dynamics behind bias and prejudice. Furthermore, the reductiveexplanation provides foundations for artificial consciousness applications. (shrink)
This paper argues that the form of explanation at issue in the hard problem of consciousness is scientifically irrelevant, despite appearances to the contrary. In particular, it is argued that the 'sense of understanding' that plays a critical role in the form of explanation implicated in the hard problem provides neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition on satisfactory scientific explanation. Considerations of the actual tools and methods available to scientists are used to make the case against (...) it being a necessary condition, and work by J.D. Trout that exploits psychological research on the hindsight and overconfidence biases is used to show that it is not a sufficient condition. It is argued, however, that certain intellectual and moral concerns give us good reason to still try to meet the hard problem's explanatory challenge, despite its extrascientific nature. (shrink)
In the contemporary life sciences more and more researchers emphasize the “limits of reductionism” (e.g. Ahn et al. 2006a, 709; Mazzocchi 2008, 10) or they call for a move “beyond reductionism” (Gallagher/Appenzeller 1999, 79). However, it is far from clear what exactly they argue for and what the envisioned limits of reductionism are. In this paper I claim that the current discussions about reductionism in the life sciences, which focus on methodological and explanatory issues, leave the concepts of a (...) class='Hi'>reductive method and a reductiveexplanation too unspecified. In order to fill this gap and to clarify what the limits of reductionism are I identify three reductive methods that are crucial in the current practice of the life sciences: decomposition, focusing on internal factors, and studying parts in isolation. Furthermore, I argue that reductive explanations in the life sciences exhibit three characteristics: first, they refer only to factors at a lower level than the phenomenon at issue, second, they focus on internal factors and thus ignore or simplify the environment of a system, and, third, they cite only the parts of a system in isolation. (shrink)
Until recently, the notions of function and multiple realization were supposed to save the autonomy of psychological explanations. Furthermore, the concept of supervenience presumably allows both dependence of mind on brain and non-reducibility of mind to brain, reconciling materialism with an independent explanatory role for mental and functional concepts and explanations. Eliminativism is often seen as the main or only alternative to such autonomy. It gladly accepts abandoning or thoroughly reconstructing the psychological level, and considers reduction if successful as equivalent (...) with elimination. In comparison with the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of biology has developed more subtle and complex ideas about functions, laws, and reductiveexplanation than the stark dichotomy of autonomy or elimination. It has been argued that biology is a patchwork of local laws, each with different explanatory interests and more or less limited scope. This points to a pluralistic, domain-specific and multi-level view of explanations in biology. Explanatory pluralism has been proposed as an alternative to eliminativism on the one hand and methodological dualism on the other hand. It holds that theories at different levels of description, like psychology and neuroscience, can co-evolve, and mutually influence each other, without the higher-level theory being replaced by, or reduced to, the lower-level one. Such ideas seem to tally with the pluralistic character of biological explanation. In biological psychology, explanatory pluralism would lead us to expect many local and non-reductive interactions between biological, neurophysiological, psychological and evolutionary explanations of mind and behavior. This idea is illustrated by an example from behavioral genetics, where genetics, physiology and psychology constitute distinct but interrelated levels of explanation. Accounting for such a complex patchwork of related explanations seems to require a more sophisticated and precise way of looking at levels than the existing ideas on (reductive and non-reductive) explanation in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Psychoneural reductionists sometimes claim that sufficient amounts of lower-level explanatory achievement preclude further contributions from higher-level psychological research. Ostensibly, with nothing left to do, the effect of such preclusion on psychological explanation is extinction. Reductionist arguments for preclusion have recently involved a reorientation within the philosophical foundations of neuroscience---namely, away from the philosophical foundations and toward the neuroscience. In this chapter, I review a successful reductiveexplanation of an aspect of reward function in terms of dopaminergic operations (...) of the mesocorticolimbic system in order to demonstrate why preclusion/extinction claims are dubious. (shrink)
Many biologists and philosophers have worried that importing models of reasoning from the physical sciences obscures our understanding of reasoning in the life sciences. In this paper we discuss one example that partially validates this concern: part-whole reductive explanations. Biology and physics tend to incorporate different models of temporality in part-whole reductive explanations. This results from differential emphases on compositional and causal facets of reductive explanations, which have not been distinguished reliably in prior philosophical analyses. Keeping these (...) two facets distinct facilitates the identifi cation of two further aspects of reductiveexplanation: intrinsicality and fundamentality. Our account provides resources for discriminating between different types of reductiveexplanation and suggests a new approach to comprehending similarities and differences in the explanatory reasoning found in biology and physics. (shrink)
Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable (...) to address some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluralists often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction—traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism—can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomedical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies. (shrink)
This paper analyses Richard Bader’s ‘operational’ view of quantum mechanics and the role it plays in the the explanation of chemistry. I argue that QTAIM can partially be reconstructed as an ‘austere’ form of quantum mechanics, which is in turn committed to an eliminative concept of reduction that stems from Kemeny and Oppenheim. As a reductive theory in this sense, the theory fails. I conclude that QTAIM has both a regulatory and constructive function in the theories of chemistry.
Abstract Non-reductive physicalism is currently the most widely held metaphysic of mind. My aim in this essay is to show that supervenience physicalism?perhaps the most common form of non-reductive physicalism?is not a defensible position. I argue that, in order for any supervenience thesis to ground a legitimate form of physicalism, it must yield the right sort of determination relation between physical and non-physical properties. Then I argue that non-reductionism leaves one without any explanation for the laws that (...) are implied by supervenience theses that deliver this determination relation. (shrink)
There are at least two importantly different ways for a philosophical theory to account for something. Explanations account for why something exists or occurs or is the way it is. Explications account for what it is for something to exist or occur or be a certain way. Both explanation and explication do important philosophical work. I show what it takes to defend genuine philosophical explanations. The sort of explanation I am interested in is incompatible not only with eliminating (...) the target phenomenon, but also with reducing it to the explanans. I show how explication comes into play in determining whether some phenomenon can plausibly be given either a reductive or eliminative treatment. Explication helps us distinguish certain kinds of reductive and eliminative views, gives us a graded account of the philosophical cost of eliminations, and furnishes us with a certain limit upon what resources an eliminative view can plausibly claim. This last point exposes a defect in a family of eliminative views that seek to retain truths about what they eliminate. Before concluding, I offer a brief defense of common sense as a legitimate, though defeasible, source of philosophical evidence. (shrink)
This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...) form, the point of view of the Canberra Plan is committed to unacceptably treating indexical or name-related facts as part of the ultimate physical/functional ground of the mental. (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)
According to the self-representational theory of consciousness – self- representationalism for short – a mental state is phenomenally conscious when, and only when, it represents itself in the right way. In this paper, I consider how self- representationalism might address the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness and physical properties. I open with a presentation of self- representationalism and the case for it (§1). I then present what I take to be the most promising self-representational approach to the explanatory gap (...) (§2). That approach is threatened, however, by an objection to self-representationalism, due to Levine, which I call the just more representation objection (§3). I close with a discussion of how the self-representationalist might approach the objection (§4). (shrink)
This book challenges common debates in philosophy of mind by questioning the framework of placement problems in contemporary metaphysics. The author argues that placement problems arise when exactly one fundamental ontology serves as the base for all entities, and will propose a pluralist alternative that takes the diversity of our conceptual resources and ontologies seriously. This general pluralist account is applied to issues in philosophy of mind to argue that contemporary debates about the mind-body problem are built on this problematic (...) framework of placement problems. The starting point is the plurality of ontologies in scientific practice. Not only can we describe the world in terms of physical, biological, or psychological ontologies, but any serious engagement with scientific ontologies will identify more specific ontologies in each domain. For example, there is not one unified ontology for biology, but rather a diversity of scientific specializations with different ontological needs. Based on this account of scientific practice the author argues that there is no reason to assume that ontological unification must be possible everywhere. Without this ideal, the scope of ontological unification turns out to be an open empirical question and there is no need to present unification failures as philosophically puzzling “placement problems”. (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)
This volume investigates the notion of reduction. Building on the idea that philosophers employ the term ‘reduction’ to reconcile diversity and directionality with unity, without relying on elimination, the book offers a powerful explication of an “ontological” notion of reduction the extension of which is (primarily) formed by properties, kinds, individuals, or processes. It argues that related notions of reduction, such as theory-reduction and functional reduction, should be defined in terms of this explication. Thereby, the book offers a coherent framework, (...) which sheds light on the history of the various reduction debates in the philosophy of science and in the philosophy of mind, and on related topics such as reduction and unification, the notion of a scientific level, and physicalism. (shrink)
A common argument against explanatory reductionism is that higher‐level explanations are sometimes or always preferable because they are more general than reductive explanations. Here I challenge two basic assumptions that are needed for that argument to succeed. It cannot be assumed that higher‐level explanations are more general than their lower‐level alternatives or that higher‐level explanations are general in the right way to be explanatory. I suggest a novel form of pluralism regarding levels of explanation, according to which explanations (...) at different levels are preferable in different circumstances because they offer different types of generality, which are appropriate in different circumstances of explanation. *Received July 2009; revised September 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University, 246 Murray Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Alexander Miller has recently considered an ingenious extension of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit's account of 'program explanation' as a way of defending non-reductive naturalist versions of moral realism against Harman's explanatory criticism. Despite the ingenuity of this extension, Miller concludes that program explanation cannot help such moral realists in their attempt to defend moral properties. Specifically, he argues that such moral program explanations are dispensable from an epistemically unlimited point of view. I show that Miller's argument (...) for this negative claim is inadequate, and that he has, in spite of himself, identified a promising defence of moral realism. (shrink)
Metaphor is commonly taken to be an elliptical simile. This article offers a rational reconstruction of two types of simile theories of metaphor: reductive and non-reductive. Careful analysis shows the differences between these theories, but in the end, neither does the explanatory work it sets out to do. In assimilating metaphor to simile and simile to literal comparison, the reductive simile theory obscures what is most important to an account of metaphor: an account of what it is (...) to interpret a bit of discourse metaphorically. The reductive simile theory fails because the reduction to literal comparison fails. The non-reductive simile theory faces most of the same problems that undermine the simile theory, particularly problems generating a corresponding simile when the metaphor contains quantificational terms and other linguistic complexities. Analysis of the non-reductive simile theory highlights the troublesome assumption (inherent in all simile theories) that metaphor and simile play the same linguistic role: making or prompting us to make comparisons. In both guises, the simile theory mistakes the task of explaining what a metaphor means with how metaphor (in general) has meaning; it confuses explanation with explication. In diagnosing and arguing against the simile theory, this article sets out a framework for understanding the difference between literal and metaphorical interpretation. (shrink)
We typically explain human action teleologically, by citing the action's goal or purpose. However, a broad class of naturalistic projects within the philosophy of mind presuppose that teleological explanation is reducible to causal explanation. In this paper I argue that two recently suggested strategies - one suggested by Al Mele and the other proposed by John Bishop and Christopher Peacocke - fail to provide a successful causal analysis of teleological explanation. The persistent troubles encountered by the (...) class='Hi'>reductive project suggest that teleological explanations are irreducible and that the naturalistic accounts of mind and agency should be called into question. (shrink)
Advocates and opponents of Humean Supervenience (HS) have neglected a crucial feature of nomic explanation: laws can explain by generating descriptions of possibilities. Dretske and Armstrong have opposed HS by arguing that laws construed as Humean regularities cannot explain, but their arguments fail precisely because they neglect to consider this generating role of laws. Humeans have dismissed the intuitive violations of HS manifested by John Carroll's Mirror Worlds as erroneous, but distinguishing the laws' generating role from the non-Humean notion (...) that laws govern undermines such responses, and renews the force of Carroll's critique of HS. However, it also undermines the assumption that HS is constitutive of Humeanism. The generating role of laws readily motivates a non-reductive Humeanism that violates HS. An account is sketched, and is seen to provide a novel explanation of the governing intuition. (shrink)
In chapter 8 of Miller 2003, I argued against the idea that Jackson and Pettit's notion of program explanation might help Sturgeon's non-reductive naturalist version of moral realism respond to the explanatory challenge posed by Harman. In a recent paper in the AJP[Nelson 2006, Mark Nelson has attempted to defend the idea that program explanation might prove useful to Sturgeon in replying to Harman. In this note, I suggest that Nelson's argument fails.
Philosophers of science have often favoured reductive approaches to how-possibly explanation. This article identifies three alternative conceptions making how-possibly explanation an interesting phenomenon in its own right. The first variety approaches “how possibly X?” by showing that X is not epistemically impossible. This can sometimes be achieved by removing misunderstandings concerning the implications of one’s current belief system but involves characteristically a modification of this belief system so that acceptance of X does not result in contradiction. The (...) second variety offers a potential how-explanation of X. It is usually followed by a range of further potential how-explanations of the same phenomenon. In recent literature the factual claims implied by the second variety have been downplayed whereas the heuristic role of mapping the space of conceptual possibilities has been emphasized. I will focus especially on this truth-bracketing sense of potentiality when looking closer at the second variety in the paper. The third variety has attracted less interest. It presents a partial how-explanation of X. Typically it aims to establish the existence of a mechanism by which X could be and was generated. The third conception stands out as the natural alternative for the advocate of ontic how-possibly explanations. This article transfers Salmon’s view that explanation-concepts can be broadly divided into epistemic, modal, and ontic to the context of how-possibly explanations. Moreover, it is argued that each of the three above-mentioned varieties of how-possibly explanation occurs in science. To recognize this may be especially relevant for philosophers. We are often misled by the promises of various why-explanation accounts, and seem to have forgotten nearly everything about the diversity of how-possibly explanations. (shrink)
In their Every Thing Must Go, Ladyman and Ross defend a novel version of Neo- Russellian metaphysics of causation, which falls into three claims: (1) there are no fundamental physical causal facts (orthodox Russellian claim), (2) there are higher-level causal facts of the special sciences, and (3) higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent. While accepting claims (1) and (2), I attack claim (3). Ladyman and Ross argue that higher-level causal facts are explanatorily emergent, because (a) certain aspects of these higher-level (...) facts (their universality) can be captured by renormalization group (RG) explanations, and (b) RG explanations are not reductive explanations. However, I argue that RG explanation should be understood as reductive explanations. This result undermines Ladyman and Ross’s RG-based argument for the explanatory emergence of higher-level causal facts. (shrink)
John Bickle's new book on philosophy and neuroscience is aptly subtitled 'a ruthlessly reductive account'. His 'new wave metascience' is a massive attack on the relative autonomy that psychology enjoyed until recently, and goes even beyond his previous (Bickle, J. (1998). Psychoneural reduction: The new wave. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.) new wave reductionsism. Reduction of functional psychology to (cognitive) neuroscience is no longer ruthless enough; we should now look rather to cellular or molecular neuroscience at the lowest possible level (...) for explanations of memory, consciousness and attention. Bickle presents a fascinating set of experimental cases of such molecule-to-mind explanations. This book qualifies as a showcase of naturalism in the philosophy of mind. Naturally, many of the traditional conceptual approaches in the philosophy of mind are given short shrift, but - in Bickle's metascientific scheme - the role of philosophy of science also seems reduced to explicating laboratory findings. The present reviewers think that this reductionism suffers from overstretching; in particular, the idea of 'explanation in a single bound' from molecule to mind is a bit too ruthless. Still, Bickle's arguments are worth serious attention. (shrink)
1. Introduction: Naturalism and Psychological Explanations To a large extent, contemporary philosophical debate takes place within a framework of naturalistic assumptions. From the perspective of the history of philosophy, naturalism is the legacy of positivism without its empiricist epistemology and empiricist conception of meaning and cognitive significance. Systematically, it is best to characterize naturalism as the philosophical articulation of the underlying presuppositions of a reductive scientific research program that was rather successful in the last few centuries and, equally important, (...) promises to be so in the future particularly in the biological sciences and the neurosciences. It seems as if the secrets of human life and behavior and the mysteries of the mind will be cracked on the molecular level of the genes or the brain, or at least so we are told. Viewed in this manner it is understandable why philosophical naturalism tends to be committed to monism, both as a metaphysical or ontological claim and as a methodological position in the philosophy of social science. Naturalists are inclined to adopt a physicalist ontology that rejects free floating Cartesian substances and they view higher order macroscopic facts and properties as being dependent or supervenient on basic micro-physical facts. Naturalists, furthermore, expect that any scientific explanation of higher order properties has to provide an account of why and how these lower order facts give rise to higher order ones. These ontological and epistemic commitments also underpin a position of methodological monism in regard to the social sciences and the explanation of human agency. If the above ontological picture is correct then there is no reason to expect that the structure of the sciences dealing with higher order properties on the social level should fundamentally differ in their methodology from the natural sciences. In both domains of investigation, scientists will develop and make explanatory use of comprehensive and empirically well supported theories with adequate predictive powers that describe.... (shrink)
Abstract This paper argues that there are good reasons to adopt a non-reductive account of states when it comes to quantum mechanics. That is to say, it is argued that there are advantages to thinking about states as sui generis, as reducible to classes of values of quantities, when it comes to the quantum domain. One reason for holding this view is that it seems to improve the prospects for explanation. In more detail, it is argued that there (...) is an 'explanatory shortfall' in the quantum domain owing to the failure of value definiteness. To remedy this situation, two proposals are put forward about the nature of the quantum state: Proposal A, that the quantum state is the only first-order property of quantum systems, Proposal B, that the quantum state is one first-order property among many. These proposals seem equally good. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim once refrained from excluding distinct mental causes of effects that depend upon the sufficient physical cause of the effect. At that time, Kim also refrained from excluding distinct mental explanations of effects that depend upon complete physical explanations of the effect. More recently, he has excluded distinct mental causes of effects that depend upon the sufficient cause of the effect, since the physical cause is individually sufficient for the effect. But there has been, to this point, no parallel (...) shift in the explanatory realm, such that distinct mental explanations of effects that depend upon complete physical explanations of the effect are excluded since the physical explanation is objectively complete. In this paper I consider, defend, and apply this update to the principle of explanatory exclusion—an update, which, in the final analysis, demonstrates a significant advantage that non-reductive physicalism has over reductive physicalism. (shrink)