Schaffner’s Model of Theory Reduction: Critique and Reconstruction

Philosophy of Science 76 (2):119-142 (2009)
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Abstract

Schaffner’s model of theory reduction has played an important role in philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. Here, the model is found to be problematic because of an internal tension. Indeed, standard antireductionist external criticisms concerning reduction functions and laws in biology do not provide a full picture of the limits of Schaffner’s model. However, despite the internal tension, his model usefully highlights the importance of regulative ideals associated with the search for derivational, and embedding, deductive relations among mathematical structures in theoretical biology. A reconstructed Schaffnerian model could therefore shed light on mathematical theory development in the biological sciences and on the epistemology of mathematical practices more generally. *Received November 2006; revised March 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Philosophy Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064; e‐mail: [email protected]

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Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz

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