Being Reduced: New Essays on Reduction, Explanation, and Causation
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There are few more unsettling philosophical questions than this: What happens in attempts to reduce some properties to some other more fundamental properties? Reflection on this question inevitably touches on very deep issues about ourselves, our own interactions with the world and each other, and our very understanding of what there is and what goes on around us. If we cannot command a clear view of these deep issues, then very many other debates in contemporary philosophy seem to lose traction - think of causation, laws of nature, explanation, consciousness, personal identity, intentionality, normativity, freedom, responsibility, justice, and so on. Reduction can easily seem to unravel our world.
Here, an eminent group of philosophers helps us answer this question. Their novel contributions comfortably span a number of current debates in philosophy and cognitive science: what is the nature of reduction, of reductive explanation, of mental causation? The contributions range from approaches in theoretical metaphysics, over philosophy of the special sciences and physics, to interdisciplinary studies in psychiatry and neurobiology. The authors connect strands in contemporary philosophy that are often treated separately and in combination the chapters allow the reader to see how issues of reduction, explanation and causation mutually constrain each other. The anthology therefore moves the debate further both at the level of contributions to specific debates and at the level of integrating insights from a number of debates.
19th-century reduction of portions of classical equilibrium thermodynamics to statistical mechanics and the kinetic/corpuscular theory of gases) and genetics (e.g., the mid-20th-century reduction of Mendelian principles of inheritance to initial discoveries of molecular genetics). Many surveys of intertheoretic reductionism exist in the literature (my own is in chapters 1 and 2 of Bickle 1998). Few proponents of intertheoretic reductionism have ever worried much about whether reductionistic
view that group agency is nothing mysterious, it also supports the interesting possibility that a group may hold judgments that are not directly continuous with the group members’ corresponding individual judgments. Our discussion is structured as follows. We suggest general conditions of agency in section 2 and introduce the supervenience account of group agency in section 3. Drawing on the emerging theory of judgment aggregation (e.g. List and Pettit 2002; Pauly and van Hees 2003; Dietrich
I have argued three main points. First, bridge-law reductions deliver neither reductions nor reductive explanations. The source of the trouble is the use of bridge laws, construed as empirical and contingent, as unexplained, unreduced auxiliary premises of reductive derivations. Second, identity reductions, in which bridge laws are replaced by identities, give us reductions but no reductive explanations. Rather, such reductions eliminate the need for—indeed, the possibility of—such explanations.
the earth there will be a net restoring gravitational force, twisting it into line, since the pull on the far end of the moon will perforce be somewhat less than the pull on the near end. This explanation in terms of the overall shape of the moon could in principle be replaced by a micro explanation in terms of the details of the distribution of tiny mass segments that make up the moon, but this would entail an explanatory loss of generality, since the macro explanation accounts for the fact that
my book Thinking about Consciousness (2002) I argue for an understanding of ‘physical’ as inorganically identiﬁable. The idea here is that we start with a distinguished inventory of mental and biological terms, and then pick out the physical realm as anything that can be directly identiﬁed without using those terms. (Note that the physical realm is here anything that can be so identiﬁed, not things that can only be so identiﬁed. Physicalists will of course hold that some parts of that physical