From Water to H2O – What Reduction is About

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van Riel, Raphael
conference paper description
In this paper I argue that an important notion of reduction depends on a four-place relation holding between expressions, concepts, properties, and events or states of affairs. I define this notion and argue against alternative accounts that are based on syntactic features of theories. Whilst these latter attempts fail to deliver a satisfactory explanation of why a certain theory or a certain expression reduces to another, the former can give a complete explanation of why, say, ‛human pain’ reduces to ‛C-fiber stimulation’ (if it reduces at all) or why the mind reduces to the physical. I briefly sketch the difference between the semantic approach that I favor, which is based on a particular notion of hyper-intensions, and classical model-theoretic versions of reduction