Monday, August 06, 2007

Alan Rhoda on the distinction between eliminativism and reductionism

This is a link to an entry by Alan Rhoda on eliminiativism and reductionism. Here's a passage from it:

The debate between eliminativists and reductionists would seem to turn on prevailing or established usage. For example, with respect to the meaning of "God", the reductionist substitutes have little or no claim to capture the force of that word as it has actually been used in the Western theological tradition. This is just atheism in denial, not a redefinition of "theism" that is still worthy of the name. In contrast, the theoretical reduction of "heat" from traditional understandings of it as a manifestation of an element (fire) or a type of fluid (caloric fluid) to "average kinetic energy" marked a useful theoretical advance. The justification for continuing to use the word "heat" while changing its meaning lies in the broad commonality of the observational data that the respective theories were invoked to explain.

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