Reduction & Emergence are Flip Sides


Reduction is not possible without emergence and vice versa if you’re talking about the kind of reduction that David Nagel elaborates.  Nagel’s work is the touchstone of reduction theory.  Based upon his work, if you’re reducing  you’re moving from some level or domain B and realizing it in the operation of some other level, or domain A. Level B emerges on the basis of the operation of level A. Level B supervenes on level A. There are laws, entities or principles specific to each level. What is specific to level B emerges from A. Rosenberg and others claim that evolution involves some kind of level B supervenience where level B has no laws, entities or principles that are distinct from those of level A. That kind of supervenience doesn’t seem to exist in reality. We all should recognize that by their very nature reduction and emgergence are opposite sides of the same coin. You can not have one without the other.

-Tanner Phillips @philosophyofsci


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