Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Print

Reduction, problems of

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-Q089-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q089-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/reduction-problems-of/v-1

Article Summary

Reduction is a procedure whereby a given domain of items (for example, objects, properties, concepts, laws, facts, theories, languages, and so on) is shown to be either absorbable into, or dispensable in favour of, another domain. When this happens, the one domain is said to be ‘reduced’ to the other. For example, it has been claimed that numbers can be reduced to sets (and hence number theory to set theory), that chemical properties like solubility in water or valence have been reduced to properties of molecules and atoms, and that laws of optics are reducible to principles of electromagnetic theory. When one speaks of ‘reductionism’, one has in mind a specific claim to the effect that a particular domain (for example, the mental) is reducible to another (for example, the biological, the computational). The expression is sometimes used to refer to a global thesis to the effect that all the special sciences, for example chemistry, biology, psychology, are reducible ultimately to fundamental physics. Such a view is also known as the doctrine of the ‘unity of science’.

Print
Citing this article:
Kim, Jaegwon. Reduction, problems of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q089-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/reduction-problems-of/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

Related Searches

Topics

Related Articles