Comment: An excellent overview of reductionism, its history, and different ways to interpret it. Clear and accessible, and useful for an intermediate metaphysics course - perhaps after having studied an applied case of reductionism - e.g. about modality. Then, students will be able to have this in mind when considering different senses of reduction. Could then be a useful gateway into metaphysics of mind. Alternatively, this article could be used near the start of a philosophy of mind course.
Ney, Alyssa. Reductionism
2008, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Added by: Emily Paul
Introduction: Reductionists are those who take one theory or phenomenon to be reducible to some other theory or phenomenon. For example, a reductionist regarding mathematics might take any given mathematical theory to be reducible to logic or set theory. Or, a reductionist about biological entities like cells might take such entities to be reducible to collections of physico-chemical entities like atoms and molecules. The type of reductionism that is currently of most interest in metaphysics and philosophy of mind involves the claim that all sciences are reducible to physics. This is usually taken to entail that all phenomena (including mental phenomena like consciousness) are identical to physical phenomena. The bulk of this article will discuss this latter understanding of reductionism.
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