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Mixed-Effects Modeling and Nonreductive Explanation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This essay considers a mixed-effects modeling practice and its implications for the philosophical debate surrounding reductive explanation. Mixed-effects modeling is a species of the multilevel modeling practice, where a single model incorporates simultaneously two (or even more) levels of explanatory variables to explain a phenomenon of interest. I argue that this practice makes the position of explanatory reductionism held by many philosophers untenable because it violates two central tenets of explanatory reductionism: single-level preference and lower-level obsession.

Research Article
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am thankful to Xiang Huang, Chuang Liu, and Wei Wang for comments on earlier drafts of this article. This research was supported by the Ministry of Education of China’s Humanities and Social Sciences Youth Fund.


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