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Towards a General Theory of Reduction. Part I: Historical and Scientific Setting

  • C.A. Hooker (a1)

The Three Papers comprising this series, together with my earlier [34] also published in this journal, constitute an attempt to set out the major issues in the theoretical domain of reduction and to develop (tentatively) a general theory of theory reduction. The fourth paper, [34], though published separately from this trio, is integral to the presentation and should be read in conjunction with these papers. Even so, the presentation is limited in scope – roughly, to intertheoretic reduction among empirical theories – and informal in presentation – not least because a satisfying formal account of theories has yet to be offered. And despite the length, the treatment is still condensed; often corroborating and/or intuitively helpful detail has had to be consigned to footnotes or omitted. I approach the problem from within my own naturalistic realist philosophy of science and formal analysis of abstract hierarchy in theory. The sources for the former are [25], [29], [31], and [32] and those for the latter essentially [27] and [30]. Hierarchical notions played a significant role in the already published [34].

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[1] E.W. Adams ’The Foundations of Rigid Body Mechanics and the Derivation of its Laws from those of Particle Mechanics” (in) L. Henkin , P. Suppes and A. Tarski , (eds.) The Axiomatic Method, Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1959, pp. 250–65.

[27] C.A. Hooker , “Physics and Metaphysics: A Prolegomenon for the Riddles of Quantum Theory”, (in) C.A. Hooker (ed.) Contemporary Research in the Foundations and Philosophy of Quantum Theory, Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1973

[40] K.N. Leibovic , Information Processing in the Nervous System, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1969.

[46] T. Nickles , “Theory Generalizations, Problem Reduction and the Unity of Science” (in) R.S. Cohen , C.A. Hooker , A.C. Michalos , & J.W. van Evra , (eds.) PSA 1974, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976.

[48] W.G. Proctor , “Negative Absolute Temperatures, Scientific American, Vol. 239, 081978, 9099

[51] W.V.O. Quine , “Ontological Reduction and the World of Numbers”, The Journal of Philosophy LXI (1964), PP. 209216. Reprinted in The Ways of Paradox, New York: Random House, 1966.

[54] K.F. Schaffner , “Reductionism in Biology: Prospects and Problems” (in) R.S. Cohen , C.A. Hooker , A.C. Michalos & J.W. van Evra , (eds.) PSA 1974, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976.

[55] K.F. Schaffner , “The Unity of Science and Theory Construction in Molecular Biology” (in) R.J. Seegar , and R.S. Cohen , (eds.) Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science Vol. XI, Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1974.

[56] M. Scriven , “Explanations, Predictions and Laws” (in) H. Feigl , & G. Maxwell , (eds.) Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. III, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962.

[62] L. Sklar , “Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics and the Complexity of Reductions” (in) R.S. Cohen , C.A. Hooker , A.C. Michalos & J.W. van Evra , (eds.) PSA 1974, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976.

[63] L. Sklar , “Statistical Explanation and Ergodic Theory”, Philosophy of Science 40(1973), 194212

[65] J. Sneed , The Logical Structure of Mathematical Physics, Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1971.

[73] W. Wimsatt , “Complexity and Organisation” (in) K.S. Schaffner & R.S. Cohen , (eds.) PSA 1972, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1974.

[74] W. Wimsatt , “Reductive Explanation: A Functional Account” (in) R.S. Cohen , C.A. Hooker , A.C. Michalos & J.W. van Evra , (eds.) PSA 1974, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976.

[75] W. Wimsatt , “Reductionism, Levels of Organisation and the Mind-Body Problem” (in) G. Glebus , G. Maxwell & I. Savodnik (eds.) Consciousness and the Brain, New York: Plenum Press, 1976.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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