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Models of Reduction and Categories of Reductionism

Sahotra Sarkar
Synthese
Vol. 91, No. 3 (Jun., 1992), pp. 167-194
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117024
Page Count: 28
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Models of Reduction and Categories of Reductionism
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Abstract

A classification of models of reduction into three categories -- theory reductionism, explanatory reductionism, and constitutive reductionism -- is presented. It is shown that this classification helps clarify the relations between various explications of reduction that have been offered in the past, especially if a distinction is maintained between the various epistemological and ontological issues that arise. A relatively new model of explanatory reduction, one that emphasizes that reduction is the explanation of a whole in terms of its parts is also presented in detail. Finally, the classification is used to clarify the debate over reductionism in molecular biology. It is argued there that while no model from the category of theory reduction might be applicable in that case, models of explanatory reduction might yet capture the structure of the relevant explanations.

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