Jerry Fodor


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The irreducibility of special sciences.

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  • Chemistry is the “bridge law.”
  • Jerry Fodor

    1. 1. JERRY FODOR
    2. 2. Biography: <ul><li>Jerry Fodor was born in New York City in 1935, of Jewish descent. </li></ul><ul><li>He received his A.B. degree ( summa cum laude ) from Columbia University in 1956, where he studied with Sydney Morgenbesser, and a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University in 1960, under the direction of Hilary Putnam. From 1959 to 1986 Fodor was on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts . </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>From 1986 to 1988 he was a full professor at the City University of New York (CUNY). Since 1988 he has been State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey. </li></ul><ul><li>Fodor is a member of the honorary societies Phi Beta Kappa and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>He lives in New York with his wife, the linguist Janet Dean Fodor. He has two grown children. </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>A typical thesis of positivistic philosophy of science is that all true theories in the special sciences should reduce to physical theories in the long run. </li></ul><ul><li>This is intended to be an empirical thesis. </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence which supports it is provided by such scientific successes as the molecular theory of heat and the physical experimentation of the chemical bond. </li></ul><ul><li>The development of science has witnessed the proliferation of specialized disciplines at least as often as it has witnessed their reduction to physics, so the widespread enthusiasm for reduction can hardly be a mere induction over its past successes </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>The reason of those philosophers who accept reductivism is that they wish to endorse the generality of physics vis a vis the special sciences: roughly the view of all events which fall under the laws of physics. </li></ul><ul><li>Reductivism is the view that the special sciences reduce to physics. The sense of “reduce to” is, however, proprietary. It can be characterized as follows. Let </li></ul><ul><li>(1) S1x S2x </li></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>Be a law of the special science S. ((1) is intended to be read as something like ‘all S1 situations bring about S2 situations. </li></ul><ul><li>For Fodor, science is individuated largely by references to its typical predicates, hence that if S is a special science S1 and S2 are not predicates of basic physics. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘all’ which quantifies laws of the special sciences needs to be taken with a grain of salt; such laws are typically exception less. </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>A necessary and sufficient condition of the reduction of (1) to a law of physics is that the formulae (2) and (3) be laws, and a necessary and sufficient condition of the reduction of S to physics is that all its laws be also reducible. </li></ul><ul><li>(2a) S1x P1x </li></ul><ul><li>(2b) S2x P2x </li></ul><ul><li>(3) P1x P2x </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>P1 and P2 are supposed to be predicates of physics, and (3) is supposed to be a physical law. Formulae like (2) are often called bridge laws. Their characteristic feature is that they contain predicates of both the reduced and the reducing science. Bridge laws like (2) are thus contrasted with proper laws like (1) and (3). </li></ul>
    10. 10. Chemistry Physics Biology
    11. 11. <ul><li>the upshot of the remarks so far is that the reduction of a science requires that any formula which appears as an antecedent or consequent of its proper laws must appear as the reduced formula in some bridge law or other. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, chemistry is reducible to physics. Because the laws of chemistry and physics mention different objects, however, the laws of chemistry are not derivable from the laws of physics alone. </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>Certain additional statements are needed. These include “bridge laws” that relate chemical terms to physical terms as well as boundary conditions that identify the circumstances under physical events will produce chemical events. </li></ul><ul><li>the notion that higher-level sciences are reducible to lower level one is based on a conception of nature as consisting a hierarchy of increasingly complex entities. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Organisms Cells Molecules Atoms BIOLOGY CHEMISTRY PHYSICS
    14. 14. <ul><li>Paul Oppenheim and Hilary Putnam present a classic statement…they claim that reducing all sciences to physics not only represents an ideal state. But also is a trend of current research. </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Fodor claims that not all sciences are reducible to physics because of the behavior of higher level entities is not always determined by the behavior of lower level ones. Consider money, for example, economists formulate laws regarding money, such as Gresham’s law, which says that bad money will drive good money out of the circulation. This law holds no matter what the money is made of, be it gold, silver, paper, sea shells, beads, or other objects. As a result, it is doubtful that the laws of economics are reducible to or explainable in terms of the laws of physics. </li></ul>
    16. 16. ECONOMICS PHYSICS Cannot be reduced to physics
    17. 17. <ul><li>The reason for irreducibility is that the kinds, classes, or groupings of objects that are significant at one level are not necessarily important for a science at a different level. </li></ul>