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timtyler comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

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Comment author: timtyler 15 August 2010 08:06:09PM *  0 points [-]

a) - good; b) - not needed. (Ref for a and b: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism)

Reductionism and Holism should be the names of strategies for analysing complex sysytems by reducing them to the interactions of their parts - or considering them as high-level entities - respectively.

The other terminology - the kind used in this post - is very bad. People should not overload such useful terminology - unless there really is no other way.

Comment author: Perplexed 15 August 2010 08:24:19PM 2 points [-]

One windmill I try to avoid attacking is the dictionary. I would suggest you spend a few extra syllables and refer to a. as "methodological reductionism" and b. as "philosophical (or ontological) reductionism". I understand the badness of needless overloading, but I'm not sure I agree that b. is "useless" simply because its validity is obvious to you. Would you also advocate abandoning the term "atheism"?

My problem with philosophical reductionism is I don't know whether it is a claim about the territory or a convention about maps. If it is a claim about the territory, I certainly remain unconvinced, having not yet glimpsed the territory.

Comment author: timtyler 15 August 2010 08:30:00PM 0 points [-]

One can't just let dictionary authors rule language. When they get scientific things wrong, responsible individuals should put up a fight. Look at what is happening to "epigenesis" - for example. Or "emergence".

Comment author: timtyler 15 August 2010 08:32:03PM 1 point [-]

Would you also advocate abandoning the term "atheism"?

That is likely to lead off topic. If the atheists and agnostics could sit down and decide what those terms actually meant, it would certainly help. Meanwhile, call me an adeist.