Reduction, Kinds, and Essences

John Heil

in The Universe As We Find It

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596201
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741876 | DOI:
Reduction, Kinds, and Essences

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The concept of reduction is discussed in the context of a discussion of the origins of ‘non-reductive physicalism’. Reduction is identified as a relation among terms, or predicates, or theories, not a relation among properties. Three influential anti-reductive arguments — Davidson’s advocacy of anomalous monism, Fodor’s defense of the autonomy of the special sciences, and Boyd’s discussion of special science kinds — are discussed and shown to be best understood as pertaining to predicates, not properties. The result is a depiction of the universe as answering to autonomous taxonomies definitive of the special sciences. Considerations are advanced suggesting that this picture is compatible with the idea that the deep truth about truthmakers for truths of the special sciences is provided by fundamental physics. Kinds and essences are discussed and explicated in a manner inspired by Descartes and Locke.

Keywords: reduction; kind; essence; predicate; taxonomy; truthmaker; non-reductive physicalism; special science; anomalous monism; Davidson; Fodor; Boyd

Chapter.  9175 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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