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An attempt or tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set: "Science requires some degree of reductionism, some picking apart and focusing on one or two variables at a time" (Natalie Angier).

re·duc′tion·ist adj. & n.
re·duc′tion·is′tic adj.


1. the analysis of complex things, data, etc, into less complex constituents
2. often derogatory any theory or method that holds that a complex idea, system, etc, can be completely understood in terms of its simpler parts or components
reˈductionist n, adj
reˌductionˈistic adj


(rɪˈdʌk ʃəˌnɪz əm)

1. the theory that every complex phenomenon, esp. in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.
2. the practice of oversimplifying a complex idea or issue to the point of minimizing or distorting it.
re•duc′tion•ist, n., adj.
re•duc`tion•is′tic, adj.


The attempt to explain complex phenomena in terms of simple laws or principles.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.reductionism - a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components
theory - a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"
2.reductionism - the analysis of complex things into simpler constituents
analytic thinking, analysis - the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations


nReduktionismus m
References in periodicals archive ?
Reineke acknowledges Beauvoir's ambivalence about the abject female body, often read as biological reductionism, but here interpreted, persuasively, as a facet of women's shared material constraints in a patriarchal culture.
George Engel made a landmark contribution to medicine when he argued against biological reductionism.
Kaut (2011) encourages mental health counselors to consider biological reductionism as the preferred lens through which to understand both psychological and emotional symptoms and the high prevalence and superior efficacy of psychopharmaceuticals.
According to Racine, however, 'several arguments and challenges that are commonly put forward' to argue against the neuroscience of ethics--such as 'neurological determinism, naturalistic fallacy, semantic dualism, biological reductionism, and threats to ethics'--are not 'definitive'.
Her point is not to once again say, "it's all in your head," but she asks: what current social conditions are fueling the new biological reductionism which simplifies and commodities women's sexuality?
To provide focus, I will concentrate on three of Mick's main criticisms: that I fail to pay attention to the social forms ideas take in producing environmental problems and in resolving them; that I am adopting a form of biological reductionism (a cybernetic model); and that this turns out to support a kind of Panglossian ethic.
Labeling themselves, in both this and their previous volume, as nonreductive physicalists, Murphy and Brown present a view that human mental functioning, while embedded in the brain, cannot be explained either by biological reductionism (bottom-up causation) or Cartesian dualism (physical body, nonphysical mind).

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