Types of Inter-Theoretic Reduction
Sklar (Lawrence)
Source: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Aug., 1967), pp. 109-124
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. The history of scientific theorising presents us with a number of notable accomplishments conveniently grouped together by methodologists as cases of 'the reduction of one theory to another'. The members of this family are, however, by no means identical twins1. That is, despite similarities among all the various cases of reduction, a number of distinctive sub-types, whose members all resemble each other far more than they do any members of other sub-types, can be discerned. My aim is to provide the beginnings of a 'taxonomy' of inter-theoretical reductions. This will, of necessity, involve the examination of a number of extant theories of reduction, and, in some cases, their rejection or modification.
  2. The philosopher's interest in reduction in the natural sciences is often motivated to a large extent by the hope that a sufficient understanding of reductions of this sort will provide insight into traditionally philosophical problems, such as the mind-body problem and the complex of issues concerning phenomenalism. I shall avoid concerning myself with these philosophical issues as much as possible, only allowing myself a few remarks on the possible relevance of the results obtained in the body of the paper to current philosophical speculation at the end of my more-or-less 'descriptive' methodological survey.
  3. I also wish to avoid the complex of issues in the foundations of mathematics often labelled problems of reduction. Whatever is meant by the claim that arithmetic is reducible to logic, or more conservatively to set-theory, it is not that arithmetic is related to the more fundamental theory in anything like the way in which a physical theory is related to a theory to which it reduces.

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