Unit Three: Reductionism, Classical Physics & Eliminativism

Rationalist Vs Empiricist approaches to science – understanding Vs prediction & control. Cartesian legacy – reject dualism, left with reductionism: 5 principles of classical physics (metaphysical assumptions); strong objectivity, materialism & causal determinism, locality, material monism & epiphenominalism. Rationalism applies reduction to the mind. ‘Churchland’s Apple’ – denying reality to subjective experience. Syntax rather than meaning – Stich accepts Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ as a valid model. Empiricism (Ryle & Dennett) leads to compatibilism. ‘Mental’ is a category mistake. Ryle’s ‘Shooting Paradox’. The computer model & the origins of Functionalism – a new dualism? Deutche’s sky-scraper of disciplines – physics as foundations, social science as top: multi-level causality, top-down causality? Dennett’s denial of the ‘Cartesian Theatre’. Determinism doesn’t mean inevitability – freedom evolves into naturalistic free will. Determinism is true from God’s perspective, but from an ‘engaged agent’s’ viewpoint, people are ‘choice machines’.

Sec. One: Overview – Two responses to Reductionism

Sec. Two:  Science’s Cartesian Legacy

Sec. Three: Classical Physics – The Assumption of Total Predictability

Sec. Four: Classical Physics – The Assumption of Determinism

Sec. Five: Two Criteria for Science – Separable Routes?

Sec. Six: The Rationalist Route to Fundamental Reduction

Sec. Seven: Applying Fundamentalist Reduction to Meaning