HOME

 

 

    NEWS

INTERVIEWS

RESOURCES

ABOUT

View by:

 SUBJECT

 THEME

QUESTION

  TERM

 PERSON

   EVENT

1. Three Types Of Reductionism

In 1974, Francisco AyalaFrancisco J. Ayala, "Introduction," in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology: Reduction and Related Problems, ed. Francisco J. Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky (Berkeley: University of California...identified three distinct types of reductionist theses: 1) Methodological reductionism is both a research strategy for studying wholes, such as cells, in terms of their parts, such as macromolecules, and for applying successful theories in one area, such as Darwinian evolution, to other areas, such as sociology or religion. 2) Epistemological reduction is the claim that processes, properties, laws or theories found in higher levels of complexity, such as the neurosciences, can be derived entirely from those found in lower levels of complexity, such as biology, and, ultimately, physics. 3) Ontological reductionism is the view that higher-level, more complex entities are nothing but complex organizations of simpler entities, i.e., the whole is ‘nothing but’ the sum of its parts.

Ayala’s analysis has been widely used in theology and science beginning as early as 1976, when Peacocke gave an extensive treatment of reductionism.Arthur Peacocke, "Reductionism: A Review of the Epistemological Issues and Their Relevance to Biology and the Problem of Consciousness," Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 11.4(December 1976);.... In a recent essay, MurphyNancey Murphy, "Supervenience and the Nonreducibility of Ethics to Biology," in Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action, ed. Robert John Russell, William...has added a fourth type: 4) Causal reductionism asserts that all causes are ‘bottom-up’; the characteristics and processes of the parts entirely determine those of the whole. She has also clarified an ambiguity in Ayala’s description of ontological reductionism. According to Murphy, ontological reductionism per se is the view that “no new kinds of metaphysical ‘ingredients’ need to be added to produce higher-level entities from lower (-level ones).” It rejects the existence of ‘vital forces’ or ‘entelechy’ in the life sciences, as well as mind or soul as the basis of consciousness. Murphy then adds a fifth type of reductionism: 5) Reductive materialism is a stronger claim than ontological reductionism, insisting that “(only) the entities at the lowest level are really real; higher level entities ... are only composite structures made of atoms.” We can thus reject reductive materialism by arguing that higher-level entities are ‘as real as’ the entities that compose them, and we can do so while agreeing with ontological reductionists in rejecting vitalism and other ontological dualisms.

Contributed by: Dr. Robert Russell

| More

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions CD-ROM Preview...
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.