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Power and Influence: The Metaphysics of Reductive Explanation


Corry, R, Power and Influence: The Metaphysics of Reductive Explanation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 256. ISBN 9780198840718 (2019) [Authored Research Book]

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Copyright 2019 Richard Corry

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The world is a complex place, and this complexity is an obstacle to our attempts to explain, predict, and control it. In Power and Influence, Richard Corry investigates the assumptions that are built into the reductive method of explanation—the method whereby we study the components of a complex system in relative isolation and use the information so gained to explain or predict the behaviour of the complex whole. He investigates the metaphysical presuppositions built into the reductive method, seeking to ascertain what the world must be like in order that the method could work. Corry argues that the method assumes the existence of causal powers that manifest causal influence—a relatively unrecognised ontological category, of which forces are a paradigm example. The success of the reductive method, therefore, is an argument for the existence of such causal influences. The book goes on to show that adding causal influence to our ontology gives us the resources to solve some traditional problems in the metaphysics of causal powers, laws of nature, causation, emergence, and possibly even normative ethics. What results, then, is not just an understanding of the reductive method, but an integrated metaphysical worldview that is grounded in an ontology of power and influence.

Item Details

Item Type:Authored Research Book
Keywords:reductive explanation, causation, causal powers, causal influence
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:History and philosophy of specific fields
Research Field:History and philosophy of science
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Corry, R (Dr Richard Corry)
ID Code:134279
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-08-06
Last Modified:2020-08-24

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