As many of you may know, I have been thinking about the following problem for a while:
Suppose that scientists discover a high level property G that is prima facie multiply realized by two sets of lower level properties, F1, F2, …, Fn, and F*1, F*2, …, F*m. One response would be to take this situation at face value and conclude that G is in fact so multiply realized. A second response, however, would be to eliminate the property G and instead hypothesize subtypes of G, G1 and G2, and say that G1 is uniquely realized by F1, F2, …, Fn, and that G2 is uniquely realized by F*1, F*2, …, F*m. This second response would eliminate a multiply realized property in favor of two uniquely realized properties A third possible scientific strategy would be to keep G and add subtypes G1 and G2. What do scientists actually do?
With Carl Gillett, I’ve been arguing, in essence, that scientists take door #1. This answer is defended in a forthcoming paper with Carl, “The Autonomy of Psychology in the Age of Neuroscience” ,
Illari, P.M., Russo, F., and Williamson, J. Causality in the
Sciences. Oxford University
It has recently come to my attention that Michael Esfeld, Christian Sachse, and Patrice Soom have been developing views (roughly) along the lines of door #3. See, for example,
Esfeld and Sachse also have a book forthcoming from Routledge developing a version of door #3.
I’m reading through their stuff now, but the most jarring thing for me is that they claim that they are exploring subtyping as a logically possible thing for scientists to do. But, if this is merely a logically possible thing for them to do, and not something they actually do, then why think this has much to do with science or reduction?
All that’s rough, but take this post as a trailer for this topic.