reductionism

(redirected from reductionists)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to reductionists: caveat vendor

reductionism

the doctrine that, either in practice or in principle, the propositions of one science can be explained in terms of the propositions of another, e.g. the reduction of chemistry to physics, or the reduction of sociology to psychology.

The contrasting doctrine is that particular sciences may be irreducible to other sciences. For Durkheim, for example, social reality is an ‘emergent’ reality, a reality sui generis irreducible to other sciences such as psychology. Similarly, those sociologists who emphasize human meanings as the basis of social explanations also see this level of analysis as irreducible. In practice, the relationships between the sciences are complex, with no pattern, or view of the pattern, of these relationships being in the ascendancy. Sometimes the subject matter of one science can be illuminated by analogies with, or reduction to, another; at other times attempted reductions of analogies will be misplaced or misleading. See also HIERARCHY OF THE SCIENCES.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
In this paper, I'll address one of the main philosophical issues concerning the metaphysics of objective probability, the debate between reductionist and non-reductionist accounts of chance.
The formulation of conceptually well-motivated alternatives to the Principal Principle--Hall's 1994 New Principle and Ismael's 2008 recommendation--seemed to provide the reductionist with the upper hand: the cost of moving to a new credence-chance principle was non-existent, or in any event negligible in view of the possibility of explaining the rationality of endorsing the favored credence-chance norm (thus apparently discharging or considerably diminishing the burden of the motivation problem).
This problem actually affects a broad class of reductionist accounts, for the culprit is the assumption that chance is reducible to the complete arrangement of categorical facts throughout the entire history of the world, regardless of the particulars of the reductive mechanism and the nature of the base for reduction.
Thus, for mereological reductionists, psychological determinism involves mereological fiction and is ultimately false, even if true in some nonultimate (conventional) domain.
(13) Whereas many Western reductionists treat the reduced level as ontologically inferior, most Buddhist Reductionists treat both levels as almost equally real.
Thus, on my gloss, Buddhist Reductionists who accept physics must conclude that no conventional things (items of valid perceptual/phenomenal experience) have inherent natures that ground the use of names--there are no natural kinds--unless (like atomists who now say physics' "atoms" are not really atoms) they are willing to say Abhidharma "dhammas" are not really dhammas, but physics' quanta are.
(5) Ignoring for the moment the claim of some reductionists that nobody can deserve punishment, and assuming that where persons in the conventional sense are identifiable, then moral responsibility will follow, we might treat the divided self examples as instances in which responsibility terminates--as occurs in death or with the onset of serious mental disease.
Strong reductionists such as Parfit argue that because personhood is not some further and additional fact over and above the continuity of mental experience, it follows that the notion of a person continuing through time is merely a conventional means of referring to this psychological continuity.
If R-relatedness is sufficient for what matters (intuitively) in survival, then qualitative similarity between mental states cannot be sufficient for the R-relatedness of person-stages.(11) It is surely incumbent on the reductionist to provide some other basis--one which does not presuppose personal identity--for holding two person-stages to be R-related.
The reductionist must provide some: if the possibility of (7) is taken to be a brute modal fact, insupportable by argument, then its rejection can hardly be ruled inadmissible.
The reductionist approach has not only solely defined Islamism as an ideological project but has also developed an exclusionary position as it also sees Islamism as an "other." In other words, as the Cold War ideologies have lost their influence, the international powers have instrumentalized Islam as ideology in order to compensate for their need for a new "other." In this sense, all Islamic movements are tagged as Islamist and identified as solely political, and even violent, enterprises.
The reductionist approach, seeing this phenomenon as an intangible, ahistoric and extra-social phenomenon, comprised merely of various religious norms, makes it impossible to include it in the social sciences' domain.