Miller, Carl Eugene
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The subject of the present work is the currently fashionable,scientific view of reality, which Ishall denominate reductive materialism.Accordingto this metaphysical theory,the only ontologically real objects are the micro-particles describedby physics;the macro-objects of ordinary experience,such as organisms,artifacts,andnatural things,are nothingmore than collections of these interactingmicro-particles. Reductive materialism is a metaphysical theory about what exists,about what shouldbe includedin an ontological inventory of real things.In discussingthis theory,Iprovide a conceptual analysis of ontological reduction,showingwhat it means to say that an upper-level object is ”nothingmore than‘a collection of interactingconstituent particles,andIargue that the reducibility of upper-level objects to their constituent particles determines whether the laws andtheories of the special sciences can in principle be reducedto the laws andtheories of physics and chemistry.Thus,the critical question in the debates between reductionists andanti-reductionists is the nature of the objects of experience.Are these upper-level objects real things? In chapter one,Iintroduce andexamine general epistemological issues in belief formation andevaluation.In chapter two,Idiscuss ontological reductionism,anda materialist lterna-tive,ontological emergentism,accordingto which the interaction of material particles can,in some instances,inexplicably give rise to novel ontological objects.Ievaluate sixobjections to the possibility of ontological mergence,andconclude that it remains a viable metaphysical position.In chapter three,Iconsider scientific reductionism.Iargue that several well-known arguments against the reduction of scientific theories are unsuccessful,andthat ontological reductionism actually entails scientific reductionism.In chapter four,Itake up the ”gene‘s eye‘view of nature,championedby RichardDawkins,which attempts to reduce organisms to a competition amongtheir genes.Iargue that the reduction fails.Andfinally,in chapter five,Iconclude that objections to reductive materialism ultimately springfrom its denial of the reality of upper-level objects.Therefore,the problem confrontingthe anti-reductionist is to supply a metaphysical theory in which upper-level objects can findtheir reality.