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Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › The Pragmatics of Reductivism

The Pragmatics of Reductivism

user 11174629
Casselberry, FL
Post #: 113
I’m going to try tying together several themes that I’m very interested in, all hinging on a philosophical project usually called 'reductivism'. I’ll start by sketching out, as best I can, what the reductivist project is, then move to illustrating the pragmatic benefits of intertheoretic reduction by couching the discussion with examples from other domains. Finally, I’ll attempt to sketch out a reductivist rival to our common-sense theories of the mind, showing how the rival promises greater power to explain and predict human behavior.

^ that's the first paragraph of a full write-up, which I've uploaded here­. I'd be very interested in getting some responses. Specifically, I'm looking for feedback on clarifications I might need to make, arguments I might have overlooked, and missteps in my reasoning. I'm profoundly uninterested in discussing weird conceptions of consciousness requiring bizarre metaphysical conceits (eg, 'we're all conscious spirits driving around a body' or something similar). That doesn't mean I'm not open to talking about property dualism, classical AI, normative semantics, epiphenomenology, anti-reductive materialism, or whatever. Just no chakras, please, if possible.

Further reading on these topics might help:

The Unity of Science
The Language of Thought Hypothesis
Folk Psychology as a Theory

edit -- first file got... hung up or something? I've re-up'd it.

Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 1,461
Thanks Chris for suggesting the meetup on Reductionism. I find some areas within it interesting for me to investigate. I am studying the picture of the model that you have in the meetup announcement. Here it is for reference:
I, for now, will call this model the Life model, unless there is already a name for it that I am not aware of.

Here is a graph of a model of how the Internet is supposed to be structured on a communications-network level. Here it is:

I am trying to see if there is a one to one correspondence between the Reductionism/Life model and the seven layers of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, or at least to see if we can compare them and use one as the metaphor for the other.

As for what Reductionism presents in the Life model shown in the first graphic above, if we can say that the various fields of study such as Physical Sciences, Biology, Psychology could also be thought of as layers, then the principle that the upper layers (such as Social Sciences) depend on lower layers (Physical Sciences) or, looking at it from the bottom up, the laws of physical sciences, space-time and the atomic particles is all that is needed to produce, given enough time and the right conditions, the next higher level (biology and the laws of biological evolution), and so on (for one level in relationship to its next higher level) up to the social sciences. In a pair of adjacent levels or layers, the lower layer produced the upper layer. The layers of the Life model were built from the bottom up. Isn't that what some proponents of Relationism advocate?

But notice that the OSI model is a structure that needs to be built with each layer being built independently of the others but in order for the Internet to work they all have to be up and running and working all at the same time. In other words, in the OSI model, we didn't start with the lower layer and build it and then the next layer up and build it, and so on. They were built at the same time, and when one layer needs to be improved then it is upgraded without affecting the others. If any layer was built first it would have to have been the computers but that was way back when the IBM PC first came out and there were very few modems. Well actually the ARPANET was being developed before the personal computer, so they (government and Universities) were connecting large computers together.

I am suggesting that maybe the OSI model was not built from the bottom up like some say that Life model was. And I am also suspicious that the Life model was built from the bottom up. Is there evidence to suggest that the Life model was "Intelligently" designed by something inherent in the Universe that would make it happen without plan but with the intentions of all beings struggling in the direction that would build it to the point that it is now? Something that could be termed God? Or could our planet have been intelligently designed by super smart beings from another region in space that wanted to populate it? What is it in physical stuff that would produce life, and eventually what we call mind, or consciousness, without some guidance and intention from a pre-existent superior mind? I am pushing for the search for the mind of God.

I hope these thoughts generate some further thoughts from whoever is reading this.

Can you clarify the difference between Reductionism and Reductivism? Isn't Reductivism a term used in Art?

A former member
Post #: 387
The trouble with basing your comparison on the OSI model is that it is just that - a model. In actual implementation, say in an Internet, the actual stack is actually accomplished in 3, 4, or 5 layers. Isn't it wiser to study what is actually there instead of a theoretical model, which in practice may be handy for teaching concepts, but in reality is not used?
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