Article ID: CBB557469066

Nagel on Reduction (2015)


This paper attempts a critical reappraisal of Nagel's (1961, 1970) model of reduction taking into account both traditional criticisms and recent defenses. This model treats reduction as a type of explanation in which a reduced theory is explained by a reducing theory after their relevant representational items have been suitably connected. In accordance with the deductive-nomological model, the explanation is supposed to consist of a logical deduction. Nagel was a pluralist about both the logical form of the connections between the reduced and reducing theories (which could be conditionals or biconditionals) and their epistemological status (as analytic connections, conventions, or synthetic claims). This paper defends Nagel's pluralism on both counts and, in the process, argues that the multiple realizability objection to reductionism is misplaced. It also argues that the Nagel model correctly characterizes reduction as a type of explanation. However, it notes that logical deduction must be replaced by a broader class of inferential techniques that allow for different types of approximation. Whereas Nagel (1970), in contrast to his earlier position (1961), recognized the relevance of approximation, he did not realize its full import for the model. Throughout the paper two case studies are used to illustrate the arguments: the putative reduction of classical thermodynamics to the kinetic theory of matter and that of classical genetics to molecular biology.

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Article Sahotra Sarkar; Thomas Uebel (2015) Introduction: Formal Epistemology and the Legacy of Logical Empiricism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (pp. 1-2). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Gobert, Janice D.
Buckley, Barbara C.
McKaughan, Daniel J.
Shaw, Jamie
Snyder, Jennifer L.
Justi, Rosaria
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Foundations of Chemistry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Science in Context
Taylor & Francis
University of Chicago Press
Cambridge University Press
Philosophy of science
Pluralism (philosophy)
Feyerabend, Paul K.
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Delbrück, Max
Heisenberg, Werner
Pauling, Linus Carl
London, Fritz
Time Periods
20th century

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