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Through the reduction of one theory or discipline to another, the results of the reduced theory or discipline can be obtained from the reducing one. In contrast, a theory that describes emergent phenomena is ostensibly autonomous: no other theory can be understood as providing a reducing basis. Questions of emergence and reduction determine how much one discipline can borrow from another, and, to a certain extent, what structures scientific theories in various disciplines can have. Successful reductions increase the epistemological importance of the reducing theories, and arguably their claim to research funding as well. If it is shown that a phenomenon is emergent, on the other hand, the discipline concerned with the emergent phenomenon is unlikely to be replaced by research in other fields, and thus requires its own funding. Furthermore, stronger relationships between the disciplines make it difficult to cast doubt on a small number of selected theories without affecting the rest of the sciences. This is important, for example, in the politically motivated, selective doubt of the theory of evolution, climate research, or genetic technology.

Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) Research Focus Reduction and Emergence (LMU) Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

    • Cultura e società

Through the reduction of one theory or discipline to another, the results of the reduced theory or discipline can be obtained from the reducing one. In contrast, a theory that describes emergent phenomena is ostensibly autonomous: no other theory can be understood as providing a reducing basis. Questions of emergence and reduction determine how much one discipline can borrow from another, and, to a certain extent, what structures scientific theories in various disciplines can have. Successful reductions increase the epistemological importance of the reducing theories, and arguably their claim to research funding as well. If it is shown that a phenomenon is emergent, on the other hand, the discipline concerned with the emergent phenomenon is unlikely to be replaced by research in other fields, and thus requires its own funding. Furthermore, stronger relationships between the disciplines make it difficult to cast doubt on a small number of selected theories without affecting the rest of the sciences. This is important, for example, in the politically motivated, selective doubt of the theory of evolution, climate research, or genetic technology.

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