The limits of reductionism in the life sciences

Kaiser MI (2011)
History and philosophy of the life sciences 33(4): 453-476.

Zeitschriftenaufsatz | Englisch
 
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Abstract / Bemerkung
In the contemporary life sciences more and more researchers emphasize the "limits of reductionism" (e.g. Ahn et al. 2006a, 709; Mazzocchi 2008, 10) or they call for a move {\textquotedbl}beyond reductionism{\textquotedbl} (Gallagher/Appenzeller 1999, 79). However, it is far from clear what exactly they argue for and what the envisioned limits of reductionism are. In this paper I claim that the current discussions about reductionism in the life sciences, which focus on methodological and explanatory issues, leave the concepts of a reductive method and a reductive explanation too unspecified. In order to fill this gap and to clarify what the limits of reductionism are I identify three reductive methods that are crucial in the current practice of the life sciences: decomposition, focusing on internal factors, and studying parts in isolation. Furthermore, I argue that reductive explanations in the life sciences exhibit three characteristics: first, they refer only to factors at a lower level than the phenomenon at issue, second, they focus on internal factors and thus ignore or simplify the environment of a system, and, third, they cite only the parts of a system in isolation.
Stichworte
Biological Science Disciplines; Biomedical Research/methods; Philosophy
Erscheinungsjahr
2011
Zeitschriftentitel
History and philosophy of the life sciences
Band
33
Ausgabe
4
Seite(n)
453-476
ISSN
0391-9714
Page URI
https://pub.uni-bielefeld.de/record/2938726

Zitieren

Kaiser MI. The limits of reductionism in the life sciences. History and philosophy of the life sciences. 2011;33(4):453-476.
Kaiser, M. I. (2011). The limits of reductionism in the life sciences. History and philosophy of the life sciences, 33(4), 453-476.
Kaiser, M. I. (2011). The limits of reductionism in the life sciences. History and philosophy of the life sciences 33, 453-476.
Kaiser, M.I., 2011. The limits of reductionism in the life sciences. History and philosophy of the life sciences, 33(4), p 453-476.
M.I. Kaiser, “The limits of reductionism in the life sciences”, History and philosophy of the life sciences, vol. 33, 2011, pp. 453-476.
Kaiser, M.I.: The limits of reductionism in the life sciences. History and philosophy of the life sciences. 33, 453-476 (2011).
Kaiser, Marie Isabel. “The limits of reductionism in the life sciences”. History and philosophy of the life sciences 33.4 (2011): 453-476.

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