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Indispensability arguments in favour of reductive explanations

Jeroen Van Bouwel UGent, Erik Weber UGent and Leen De Vreese UGent (2011) JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 42(1). p.33-46
abstract
Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable to address some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluralists often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction – traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism – can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomedical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Reductive explanations, Social sciences, Explanatory pluralism, Epistemic interests, Biomedical sciences, MODELS, DEFENSE, PLURALISM, INSTITUTIONAL ANOMIE THEORY
journal title
JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
J. Gen. Philos. Sci.
volume
42
issue
1
pages
33 - 46
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000292287900003
ISSN
0925-4560
DOI
10.1007/s10838-011-9141-5
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1890961
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1890961
date created
2011-08-19 14:55:48
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:46:40
@article{1890961,
  abstract     = {Instances of explanatory reduction are often advocated on metaphysical grounds; given that the only real things in the world are subatomic particles and their interaction, we have to try to explain everything in terms of the laws of physics. In this paper, we show that explanatory reduction cannot be defended on metaphysical grounds. Nevertheless, indispensability arguments for reductive explanations can be developed, taking into account actual scientific practice and the role of epistemic interests. Reductive explanations might be indispensable to address some epistemic interest answering a specific explanation-seeking question in the most accurate, adequate and efficient way. Just like explanatory pluralists often advocate the indispensability of higher levels of explanation pointing at the pragmatic value of the explanatory information obtained on these higher levels, we argue that explanatory reduction -- traditionally understood as the contender of pluralism -- can be defended in a similar way. The pragmatic value reductionist, lower level explanations might have in the biomedical sciences and the social sciences is illustrated by some case studies.},
  author       = {Van Bouwel, Jeroen and Weber, Erik and De Vreese, Leen},
  issn         = {0925-4560},
  journal      = {JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE},
  keyword      = {Reductive explanations,Social sciences,Explanatory pluralism,Epistemic interests,Biomedical sciences,MODELS,DEFENSE,PLURALISM,INSTITUTIONAL ANOMIE THEORY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {33--46},
  title        = {Indispensability arguments in favour of reductive explanations},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10838-011-9141-5},
  volume       = {42},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
Van Bouwel, Jeroen, Erik Weber, and Leen De Vreese. 2011. “Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations.” Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (1): 33–46.
APA
Van Bouwel, J., Weber, E., & De Vreese, L. (2011). Indispensability arguments in favour of reductive explanations. JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, 42(1), 33–46.
Vancouver
1.
Van Bouwel J, Weber E, De Vreese L. Indispensability arguments in favour of reductive explanations. JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. 2011;42(1):33–46.
MLA
Van Bouwel, Jeroen, Erik Weber, and Leen De Vreese. “Indispensability Arguments in Favour of Reductive Explanations.” JOURNAL FOR GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 42.1 (2011): 33–46. Print.