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EmergenceContemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science$
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Mark A. Bedau and Paul Humphreys

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026215

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026215.001.0001

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Special Sciences (Or: The Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis)

Special Sciences (Or: The Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis)

Chapter:
(p.395) 22 Special Sciences (Or: The Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis)
Source:
Emergence
Author(s):

Jerry Fodor

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262026215.003.0026

This chapter examines the confusion regarding the “unity of science.” What has traditionally been called “the unity of science” is a much stronger, and much less plausible, thesis than the generality of physics. Reductionism may be an empirical doctrine, but it is intended to play a regulative role in scientific practice. Philosophers who accept reductivism do so because they wish to endorse the generality of physics in relation to the special sciences. They share the view that all events which fall under the laws of any science are physical events and, hence, fall under the laws of physics. For such philosophers, saying that physics is basic science and saying that theories in the special sciences must reduce to physical theories have seemed to be two ways of saying the same thing.

Keywords:   unity of science, reductionism, empirical doctrine, reductivism, special sciences, physics, basic science

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