Abstract Reduction between theories in physics is often approached as an a priori relation in the sense that reduction is often taken to depend only on a comparison of the mathematical structures of two theories. I argue that such purely formal approaches fail to capture one crucial sense of ‘reduction,’ whereby one theory encompasses the set of real behaviors that are well-modeled by the other. Reduction in this sense depends not only on the mathematical structures of the theories but also on empirical facts about where the theories succeed at describing real systems, and is therefore an a posteriori relation. I discuss several detailed implications of this claim for the methodology of inter-theory and inter-model reduction in physics. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science – Oxford University Press
Published: Aug 23, 2017
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