Erkenntnis

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 303–322 | Cite as

Reconsidering the Role of Bridge Laws In Inter-Theoretical Reductions

Original Article

Abstract

The present paper surveys the three most prominent accounts in contemporary debates over how sound reduction should be executed. The classical Nagelian model of reduction derives the laws of the target-theory from the laws of the base theory plus some auxiliary premises (so-called bridge laws) connecting the entities of the target and the base theory. The functional model of reduction emphasizes the causal definitions of the target entities referring to their causal relations to base entities. The new-wave model of reduction deduces not the original target theory but an analogous image of it, which remains inside the vocabulary of the base theory. One of the fundamental motivations of both the functional and the new-wave model is to show that bridge laws can be evaded. The present paper argues that bridge laws—in the original Nagelian sense—are inevitable, i.e. that none of these models can evade them. On the one hand, the functional model of reduction needs bridge laws, since its fundamental concept, functionalization, is an inter-theoretical process dealing with entities of two different theories. Theoretical entities of different theories (in a general heterogeneous case) do not have common causal relations, so the functionalization of an entity—without bridge laws—can only be executed in the framework of its own theory. On the other hand, the so-called images of the new-wave account cannot be constructed without the use of bridge laws. These connecting principles are needed to guide the process of deduction within the base theory; without them one would not be able to recognize if the deduced structure was an image of the target theory.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research presented in this paper was supported by the Sorabji Graduate Bursary Fund, King’s College London; Eötvös Scholarship from the Hungarian State; and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Scholarship, University of Edinburgh. The author is grateful to David Papineau, Yen-Yane Shih, Tihamér Margitay, George Kampis, Jonas Christensen and Jesper Kallestrup for their valuable commentaries.

References

  1. Bickle, J. (1998). Psychoneural reduction: The new wave. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chalmers, D. J. (1996). The conscious mind. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Davidson, D. (1970). Mental events. In L. Foster & J. W. Swanson (Eds.), Experience and theory. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  4. Fodor, J. A. (1974). Special sciences, or the disunity of science as a working hypothesis. Synthese, 28, 97–115. doi: 10.1007/BF00485230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects of scientific explanation. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hempel, C. G., & Oppenheim, P. (1948). Studies in the logic of explanation. Philosophy of Science, 15, 135–175. (Reprinted In: C. G. Hempel (1965): 245–295.).Google Scholar
  7. Hooker, C. A. (1981). Towards a general theory of reduction. Part I: Historical and scientific setting. Part II: Identity in reduction. Part III: Cross-categorial reduction. Dialogue, 20, 38–57, 201–236, 496–529.Google Scholar
  8. Kim, J. (1998). Mind in a physical world. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Kim, J. (1999). Making sense of emergence. Philosophical Studies, 95, 3–36. doi: 10.1023/A:1004563122154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kim, J. (2005). Physicalism, or something near enough. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Klein, C. (2008). Reduction without reductionism: A defence of Nagel on connectability. The Philosophical Quarterly, 59, 39–53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.560.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Levine, J. (1993). On leaving out what it is like. In M. Davies & G. W. Humphreys (Eds.), Consciousness. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Marras, A. (2002). Kim on reduction. Erkenntnis, 57, 231–257. doi: 10.1023/A:1020932406567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nagel, E. (1961). The structure of science. New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World.Google Scholar
  15. Putnam, H. (1967). Psychological predicates. In: W. Capitan & D. Merrill (Eds.), Art, mind, and religion (pp. 37–48). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. (Reprinted as ‘The nature of mental states’. In: N. Block (Ed.), Readings in philosophy of psychology (vol. 1. pp. 223–231). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  16. Schaffner, K. (1967). Approaches to reduction. Philosophy of Science, 34, 137–147. doi: 10.1086/288137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schaffner, K. (1969). The Watson-Crick model and reductionism. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 20, 325–348. doi: 10.1093/bjps/20.4.325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Van Gulick, R. (1992). Nonreductive materialism and the nature of intertheoretic constraint. In A. Beckermann, H. Flohr, & J. Kim (Eds.), Emergence or reduction?: Essays on the prospects of nonreductive materialism (pp. 157–178). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  19. Van Gulick, R. (2001). Reduction, Emergence and Other Recent Options of the Mind/Body Problem. (Paper presented at ASSC 5, Duke University, Durham).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland, UK
  2. 2.HAS-BUTE Cognitive Science Research Unit, Department of Philosophy and History of ScienceBudapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations