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More Is Different - A critical view of the reductionist hypothesis in the sciences [PDF]

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  1. gpl
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    This is an amazing essay published originally in 1972 by Phil Anderson, himself an accomplished physicist. In it, he pushes back on the notion that the only fundamental problems are those in...

    This is an amazing essay published originally in 1972 by Phil Anderson, himself an accomplished physicist. In it, he pushes back on the notion that the only fundamental problems are those in particle physics, mathematics, etc. In his own words:

    The main fallacy in this kind of thinking is that the reductionist hypothesis does not by any means imply a "constructionist" one: The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamentalist laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe.

    If you've seen this famous xkcd, you'll know the viewpoint that Anderson is arguing against. This came up recently in a discussion I was having that itself arose because of the whole "#mathisntreal" stuff that invaded science twitter a few days ago. I thought I would share here too.

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