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Explaining the Autonomy of the Special Sciences

Franklin, Alexander (2022) Explaining the Autonomy of the Special Sciences. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Fodor (1997) argues that the special sciences are autonomous, but that this autonomy is mysterious and eludes explanation. Reductionist responses to Fodor tend to eliminativism about autonomy. In this paper I set out a framework for explaining autonomy. Rather than eliminating it, this establishes that the special sciences are, in fact, autonomous from more fundamental sciences, but that this is compatible with reductive explanation.

I cash this out with a case study. Nerve signals are autonomous from the individual ionic motions across the neuronal membrane. In order to explain the autonomy of the nerve signal, we ought to identify the structures at the lower level which give rise to the signal's autonomy. In this case we can do just that: the gated ion channels underwrite the autonomy of nerve signals.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Franklin, Alexanderalexander.r.franklin@kcl.ac.uk0000-0001-6034-4575
Keywords: Autonomy Special sciences Reduction Explanation Fodor
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr Alexander Franklin
Date Deposited: 26 May 2022 02:12
Last Modified: 26 May 2022 02:12
Item ID: 20668
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: May 2022
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20668

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