Antireductionism is a reaction against reductionism, which instead advocates holism. Although "breaking complex phenomena into parts, is a key method in science," there are those complex phenomena (e.g. in psychology, sociology, ecology) where some resistance to or rebellion against this approach arises, primarily due to the perceived shortcomings of the reductionist approach. When such situations arise, some people search for ideas that supply "an effective antidote against reductionism, scientism, and psychiatric hubris." This in essence forms the philosophical basis for antireductionism. Such rebellions against reductionism also implicitly carry some critique of the scientific method itself, which engenders suspicion among scientists that antireductionism must inherently be flawed.
Antireductionism often arises in academic fields such as history, economics, anthropology, medicine, and biology as dissatisfaction with attempts to explain complex phenomena through being reduced to simplistic, ill-fitting models, which do not provide much insight about the matter in hand.
An example in psychology is the "ontology of events to provide an anti-reductionist answer to the mind/matter debate [and]...the impossibility of intertranslating the two idioms by means of psychophysical laws blocks any analytically reductive relation between...the mental and the physical."
As Alex Rosenberg, Neda Todorova and Kaplan point out, "physicalism and antireductionism are the ruling orthodoxy in the philosophy of biology...[yet] both reductionists and antireductionists accept that given our cognitive interests and limitations, non-molecular explanations may not be improved, corrected or grounded in molecular ones."
This is "one of the central problems in the philosophy of psychology...an updated version of the old mind-body problem: how levels of theories in the behavioral and brain sciences relate to one another. Many contemporary philosophers of mind believe that cognitive-psychological theories are not reducible to neurological theories...most nonreductive physicalists prefer the idea of a one-way dependence of the mental on the physical."
- A Guide for the Perplexed
- Alexander Rosenberg
- E.F. Schumacher
- Holistic management
- Philosophy of Mind
- Systems science
- Systems theory
- Reductionism, Antireductionism, and Supervenience
- Reductionism vs. obscurantism by Les Lane. Archived 2009-10-25.
- Jennifer Radden (Ed.) The Philosophy of Psychiatry: A Companion
- Reductionism and Antireductionism by Thomas Nagel
- Essays on Actions and Events by Donald Davidson
- How to Reconcile Physicalism and Antireductionism about Biology by Alex Rosenberg and D. M. Kaplan
- Psychoneural Reduction The New Wave by John Bickle
- John Bickle, Psychoneural Reduction: The New Wave, Bradford Books, March 1998, ISBN 0-262-02432-2.
- Ingo Brigandt and Alan Love, "Reductionism in Biology", in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Donald Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events, OUP, 2001, ISBN 0-19-924627-0
- Alex Rosenberg and D. M. Kaplan "How to reconcile physicalism and antireductionism about biology", Philosophy of Science, Volume 72.1, January 2005, pp. 43–68]
- Manfred Laubichler and Günter Wagner (2001) "How molecular is molecular developmental biology? A reply to Alex Rosenberg's Reductionism redux: computing the embryo", Biology and Philosophy 16: 53—68
- Bolender, John (1995) "Is multiple realizability compatible with antireductionism?" The Southern Journal of Philosophy XXXIII: pp. 129–142.
- Monica Anderson Reductionism Considered Harmful, h+ magazine, 2011