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Review of Rosenberg's "Instrumental Biology or the Disunity of Science"

Dupre, J. (1995) Review of Rosenberg's "Instrumental Biology or the Disunity of Science". [Journal (Paginated)]

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Abstract

This book is the apologia of a frustrated reductionist. The frustration derives from Rosenberg's clear perception that the project of physicalist reduction, the reduction of all the sciences of complex objects to physics, is impossible, at least, as he often says, for beings hampered by our limited cognitive and computational abilities. The reductionism that survives this realisation is purely metaphysical. It is the firm commitment to the view that ultimately whatever happens happens because of the universally lawlike behavior of the physical particles of which everything is composed. What holds these theses together is supervenience. The physical correlate of a higher level property or kind is typically massively disjunctive. Thus although the intrinsic properties of a complex thing are fully determined by the properties of the physical particles of which they are composed, the physical property necessary and sufficient to determine such a higher level property is too complex and disjunctive for our feeble minds to grasp. The underlying physical heterogeneity of the properties or kinds we distinguish at higher structural levels is such as to make it vanishingly unlikely that these will enter into the kinds of universal laws characteristic of physics or chemistry.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Science
ID Code:344
Deposited By:Dupre, John
Deposited On:02 Jul 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:53

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