Aspects of reductive explanation in biological science: Intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality

Andreas Hüttemann, Alan C. Love

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The inapplicability of variations on theory reduction in the context of genetics and their irrelevance to ongoing research has led to an anti-reductionist consensus in philosophy of biology. One response to this situation is to focus on forms of reductive explanation that better correspond to actual scientific reasoning (e.g. part-whole relations). Working from this perspective, we explore three different aspects (intrinsicality, fundamentality, and temporality) that arise from distinct facets of reductive explanation: composition and causation. Concentrating on these aspects generates new forms of reductive explanation and conditions for their success or failure in biology and other sciences. This analysis is illustrated using the case of protein folding in molecular biology, which demonstrates its applicability and relevance, as well as illuminating the complexity of reductive reasoning in a specific biological context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-549
Number of pages31
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

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