Abstraction, Multiple Realizability, and the Explanatory Value of Omitting Irrelevant Details

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Haug, Matthew C.
conference paper description
Anti-reductionists hold that special science explanations of some phenomena are objectively better than physical explanations of those phenomena. Prominent defenses of this claim appeal to the multiple realizability of special science properties. I argue that special science explanations can be shown to be better, in one respect, than physical explanations in a way that does not depend on multiple realizability. Namely, I discuss a way in which a special science explanation may be more abstract than a competing physical explanation, even if it is not multiply realizable, and I argue that this kind of abstraction can be used to support the idea that that special science explanation omits explanatorily irrelevant detail.