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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 ?
Among the topics are explanation and the scientific study of religion, beyond the skeptic and the devotee: reductionism in the scientific study of science, the transcription of belief and the domestication of faith in the academic study of religion, beyond thick descriptions and interpretive sciences: explaining religious meaning, and dissolving rationality: the anti-science phenomenon and its implications for the study of religion.
An eminent scholar and author of several books on philosophy and Marxism, Ashfaq Saleem Mirza, said that people mostly saw economic reductionism and class struggle as a basis of Marxism.
Does the global supervenience of one class on another entail reductionism, in the sense that any property in the former class is definable from properties in the latter class?
It is important to consider complexity because conventional systems engineering and design principles are built on a foundation of reductionism and decomposability which are inadequate starting assumptions to deal with complex systems.
Reductionism states that the behavior of the whole is equal to the sum of the behavior of the parts; that sophisticated systems are merely combinations of simpler systems (2) and that pathophysiology is linear and predictable.
(1) They can accept either reductionism or nonreductionism about how moral properties relate to properties invoked in the best natural and social scientific explanations, which I call "scientific properties." (2) This article argues that reductionism is the best form of naturalistic moral realism.
The Range Rover Velar--which is not only the latest in the brand's lineup, but which, as a midsize SUV, slots between the Evoque and Sport-is based on the Jaguar Land Rover Lightweight Aluminum Architecture and has a design that's predicated on what they're calling "reductionism," which presumably means the elimination of anything that is superfluous.
29-36): (1) 'passivism'--the idea that the behaviour of entities is determined by an external contingent force; included within this broad category are forms of essentialism, reductionism and social constructivism; (2) the Aristotelian teleological view of the behaviour of entities as being goal-directed; and (3) relational dispositionality, which Lie defends, in which entities have real dispositions to act in certain non-contingent ways, so that 'all being of nature [are] active...
Davis and Gonzalez's collected volume aims to interrogate western medicine: we are "living in a moment of antagonism" between medical reductionism and holist conceptions and approaches to health (14).
Within the context of communicating truth and meaning, the ways of Jesus and science are susceptible to reductionism as a means to alleviate tension.
"But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against -- the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil or, if you will, the righteous and sinners," Francis said.
Natural philosophy is the discipline that helps us to understand what it means for something to be alive and can allow us to criticize various versions of mechanism, materialism, reductionism, and theories of emergence.