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Neo-Nagelian reduction: a statement, defence, and application.

Dizadji-Bahmani, Foad (2011) Neo-Nagelian reduction: a statement, defence, and application. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis proposes, defends, and applies a new model of inter-theoretic reduction, called "Neo-Nagelian" reduction. There are numerous accounts of inter-theoretic reduction in the philosophy of science literature but the most well-known and widely-discussed is the Nagelian one. In the thesis I identify various kinds of problems which the Nagelian model faces. Whilst some of these can be resolved, pressing ones remain. In lieu of the Nagelian model, other models of inter-theoretic reduction have been proposed, chief amongst which are so-called "New Wave" models. I show these to be no more adequate than the original Nagelian model. I propose a new model of inter-theoretic reduction, Neo-Nagelian reduction. This model is structurally similar to the Nagelian one, but differs in substantive ways. In particular I argue that it avoids the problems pertaining to both the Nagelian and New Wave models. Multiple realizability looms large in discussions about reduction: it is claimed that multiply realizable properties frustrate the reduction of one theory to another in various ways. I consider these arguments and show that they do not undermine the Neo-Nagelian of reduction of one theory to another. Finally, I apply the model to statistical mechanics. Statistical mechanics is taken to be a reductionist enterprise: one of the aims of statistical mechanics is to reduce thermodynamics. Without an adequate model of inter-theoretic reduction one cannot assess whether it succeeds; I use the Neo-Nagelian model to critically discuss whether it does. Specifically, I consider two very recent derivations of the Second Law of thermodynamics, one from Boltzmannian classical statistical mechanics and another from quantum statistical mechanics. I argue that they are partially successful, and that each makes for a promising line of future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Foad Dizadji-Bahmani
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Supervisor: Frigg, Roman and Rédei, Miklós

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