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Seventeenth-Century Mechanism: An Alternative Framework for Reductionism

Theurer, Kari L. (2013) Seventeenth-Century Mechanism: An Alternative Framework for Reductionism. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

The consensus view in philosophy of science is that reductionism is dead. One reason for this is that the deductive nomological (DN) model of explanation, on which classical reductionism depends, is widely regarded as indefensible. I argue that the DN model is inessential to the reductionist framework, and that mechanism provides a better framework for thinking about reductionism. But this runs counter to the contemporary mechanists’ claim that their view provides a distinct alternative to reductionism. I demonstrate that this view is mistaken. Mechanists are committed to reductionism, as evidenced by the historical roots of the contemporary mechanist program: namely, in the mechanical philosophy of Descartes, Boyle, and others. This view shares certain core commitments with classical and contemporary reductionists. I argue that it is these shared commitments, not a direct commitment to the DN model, that constitute the essential elements of the reductionist program.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Theurer, Kari L. theurer.kari@gmail.com
Keywords: Mechanism; Reductionism; Explanation; Descartes; Boyle; Corpuscularism
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr. Kari Theurer
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2013 13:52
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2013 17:29
Item ID: 9520
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 10 January 2013
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9520

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