Definition of "reductionism" [reductionism]

  • An attempt or tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set: "For the last 400 years science has advanced by reductionism ... The idea is that you could understand the world, all of nature, by examining smaller and smaller pieces of it. When assembled, the small pieces would explain the whole” ( John Holland). (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "reductionism" in a sentence
  • "The first is actually itself a problem in terms of scientific self-understanding: the problem usually designated by the word reductionism, which is the problem of how you decide what's the most basic form of explanation and whether you think that the most basic form of explanation is the only real form of explanation."
  • "Due to the conceptual incompatibilities between different theories, and simple limitations in the tractability of equations when dealing with systems containing billions of particles, epistemological reductionism is false."
  • "This is known as reductionism: the ironclad belief that describing events in biological terms comprises a scientific advancement no matter how hypothetical the explanation is and how little it improves our understanding of -- or ability to influence -- outcomes."