Philosophy of Physics Graduate Lunch Seminar (Tuesday - Week 5, HT23)

philosophy of physics grad lunch seminar

Functional reductionism characterises inter-theoretic reduction as the recovery of the upper-level behaviour described by the reduced theory in terms of the lower-level reducing theory. For instance, finding a statistical mechanical realiser that plays the functional role of thermodynamic entropy allows to establish a reductive link between thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

My aim is to clarify the meaning of functional reductionism in science, with a focus on physics, to flesh out the details of the view and to define both its place with respect to other approaches to reduction and its connection to ontology. I first review the main available framework for functional reduction, originally developed by David Lewis, that I label Syntactic Functional Reductionism. This approach is tied to the syntactic view of theories, is committed to a logical characterisation of functional roles, and is embedded within Nagelian reductionism. Then, I propose a new framework, called Semantic Functional Reductionism. This novel version of functional reduction adopts a semantic view of theories, spells out functional roles mainly in terms of mathematical roles within the models of theories, and is expressed in terms of the related structuralist approach to reduction.

The PoP-grunch (Philosophy of Physics Graduate Lunch) is a weekly informal seminar in which graduate students in Philosophy of Physics present their work in progress. Anyone can attend. Anyone interested in presenting or being added to the mailing list should contact Dominik Ehrenfels

Philosophy of Physics Graduate Lunch Seminar Convenor: Dominik Ehrenfels