The reductionist view of science is that all high-level behavior consists of the underlying lower-level behavior and should be analyzed into components to fully understand. However, good explanations can be self-contained and sufficient without needing an explanation of every low-level detail. For example, you can have a theory of how water boils that doesn’t need to predict movement of individual atoms.
- Rejecting explanations because they do not explain the lowest-level behavior is like the inverse of parochial errors, going so deep that nothing can be explained
- Multiple explanations at different levels of emergence is not inconsistent and abstractions are real
- The Beginning of Infinity
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The real world and it’s behaviors are extraordinarily complex. To theorize and create good explanations necessarily requires some encapsulation of ideas through abstractions. It is possible to understand a phenomena by understanding abstractions and similarly, it is possible to create new explanations by building on top of them.
A reductionist argument against an explanation might be that it is incorrect because there are multiple explanations of the same phenomena. If good explanations are hard to vary, how could there be multiple explanations? This argument doesn’t take into account that multiple explanations can exist at different levels of emergence and this is not altogether inconsistent.