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Multiple Realizability and Universality

Robert W. Batterman
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 115-145
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3541751
Page Count: 31
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Multiple Realizability and Universality
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Abstract

This paper concerns what Jerry Fodor calls a 'metaphysical mystery': How can there be macroregularities that are realized by wildly heterogeneous lower level mechanisms? But the answer to this question is not as mysterious as many, including Jaegwon Kim, Ned Block, and Jerry Fodor might think. The multiple realizability of the properties of the special sciences such as psychology is best understood as a kind of universality, where 'universality' is used in the technical sense one finds in the physics literature. It is argued that the same explanatory strategy used by physicists to provide understanding of universal behavior in physics can be used to explain how special science properties can be heterogeneously multiply realized.

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