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PSA 1972 pp 67-86 | Cite as

Complexity and Organization

  • William C. Wimsatt
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 20)

Abstract

In his now classic paper, ‘The Architecture of Complexity’, Herbert Simon observed that “... In the face of complexity, an in-principle reductionist may be at the same time a pragmatic holist.” (Simon, 1962, p. 86.) Writers in philosophy and in the sciences then and now could agree on this statement but draw quite different lessons from it. Ten years ago pragmatic difficulties usually were things to be admitted and then shrugged off as inessential distractions from the way to the in principle conclusions. Now, even among those who would have agreed with the in principle conclusions of the last decade’s reductionists, more and more people are beginning to feel that perhaps the ready assumption of ten years ago that the pragmatic issues were not interesting or important must be reinspected. This essay is intended to begin to indicate with respect to the concept of complexity how an in principle reductionist can come to understand his behavior as a pragmatic holist.

Keywords

Theoretical Perspective Functional Organization Functional System Slime Mould Descriptive Complexity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Wimsatt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Biology, and Committee on the Conceptual Foundations of ScienceUniversity of ChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of Philosophy, and Committee on The Conceptual Foundations of ScienceUniversity of ChicagoUSA

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