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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 ?
It is precisely this blind spot that has unleashed so much social dislocation in the latter half of the twentieth century, as the reductionists of modern social science have destroyed the necessary structures of liberty in the name of liberation.
Both the fundamentalists and reductionists prefer to focus on certain norms, and thereby deprive Islamism of its historical and social context.
In his original article ("Beyond"), Siderits implicitly accepted mereological reductionism; now he explicitly asserts that "Buddhist Reductionists are thoroughgoing mereological reductionists" ("Reductionism"
First, our brains are natural reductionists, focusing on single issues and single events.
Bernard Wasserstein is the high priest of the reductionists, and his book is a timely one.
Physical reductionists [predict] that advances in molecular biology will show that many behavioral abnormalities--now categorized as mental illnesses--[are] bona fide diseases displaying characteristic lesions on a subcellular level," he writes.
In their effort to explain the nature and the origin of life, scientists are reductionists, examining cells, DNA, and proteins in an attempt to understand biology.
Thus many reductionists consider it true that someone does not deserve to be punished as severely for a crime he committed a long time ago as he does for a recently committed crime.
Reductionists make three major responses to this argument, which the author evaluates.
The upshot of this is that I do not find in this essay a persuasive argument that there is any basic defect in the traditional debate between reductionists and anti-reductionists.
I aim not to establish those intuitions as correct but rather to show (contra reductionists like Parfit) that the fission puzzle does not force their abandonment; I do not target those whose intuitions diverge from mine.
Psychology's quest to be taken seriously as a science has included a reliance on empirical approaches to studying human behavior, a pervasive focus on the physiological factors of persons, and a reductionist view of personhood.