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How the Reductionist Should Respond to the Multiscale Argument, and What This Tells Us About Levels

Franklin, Alexander (2021) How the Reductionist Should Respond to the Multiscale Argument, and What This Tells Us About Levels. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Recent literature has raised what I'll call the 'multiscale argument' against reduction (see e.g. Batterman (2013), Wilson (2017), Bursten (2018)). These authors observe that numerous successful scientific models appeal to features and properties from a wide range of spatial/temporal scales. This is taken to undermine views that the world is sharply divided into distinct levels, roughly corresponding to different scales, and that each higher level is reducible to the next lowest level.

While the multiscale argument does undermine a naive conception of levels and reduction, in this chapter I argue that alternative views of reduction and levels can withstand this argument. After articulating the multiscale argument in more detail, I show that this does not undermine a version of reduction that accepts methodological pluralism in science, yet maintains that the adequacy of any model can be explained by appeal to details at smaller scales. I go on to discuss a case study – dislocations in steel – used by Batterman and Wilson in defence of the multiscale argument. I argue that the version of reduction advocated above is available in this context. I conclude by arguing that, in light of the multiscale argument, an attenuated conception of levels is required.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Franklin, Alexanderalexander.r.franklin@kcl.ac.uk0000-0001-6034-4575
Keywords: levels multiscale reduction autonomy dislocations
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
Specific Sciences > Engineering
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Dr Alexander Franklin
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2022 02:24
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 02:24
Item ID: 20187
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
Specific Sciences > Engineering
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: August 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20187

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