REDUCTION WITHOUT REDUCTIONISM: A DEFENCE OF NAGEL ON CONNECTABILITY

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Abstract

Unlike the overall framework of Ernest Nagel's work on reduction, his theory of intertheoretic connection still has life in it. It handles aptly cases where reduction requires complex representation of a target domain. Abandoning his formulation as too liberal was a mistake. Arguments that it is too liberal at best touch only Nagel's deductivist theory of explanation, not his condition of connectability. Taking this condition seriously gives a powerful view of reduction, but one which requires us to index explanatory power to sciences as they are formulated at particular times. While we may thereby reduce more than philosophers have supposed, we must abandon hope (as Nagel did) of saying anything useful about reductionism.

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