The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science presents

"Reductionism, Naturalism, and Undecidability"
with Simon DeDeo, Santa Fe Institute

Friday, February 8, 2013
3:00 p.m.
Social Science Tower, Room 777

A common version of naturalism holds that higher-level theories, such as those of the biological and social sciences, describe the relationships between coarse-grainings of more fundamental theories. The laws of the higher-level theories must be consistent with the laws relating the fine-grained quantities. Using the tools of formal language theory, DeDeo presents a toy model under which this account is strictly true, with a separation of theories into a single, ordered hierarchy of levels. He then shows how, for theories of reasonable sophistication, this hierarchy-of-levels picture not only collapses, but the reducibility of one theory to another becomes undecidable (in the Godelian sense). He provides an example from recent empirical work that suggests this does indeed take place.

For further information, please contact Patty Jones, or 949-824-1520.

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