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CEFISES Seminar: Francesca Bellazzi, “Exploring New Forms of Reductionism in Biochemistry”

2023-12-15@14:00-16:00 CET

Livestream https://youtube.com/live/gRUOzt6kJjM

Series: Chemistry

Speaker: Francesca Bellazzi (University of Birmingham)

Talk: “Exploring New Forms of Reductionism in Biochemistry”

Venue change: Salle des Thèses (FIAL). To access the thesis room at FIAL, you must enter through the door with a large orange sign that says “Bienvenue en FIAL”. The door is located almost directly across from Collège Mercier. Go up the few steps, and the room will be on your right at the end of the corridor.


In this talk, I will explore whether reductionism is possible in biochemistry and molecular biology by considering functional reductionism. Specifically, I will argue that biochemical compounds as vitamins can be reduced to chemical bases when these perform the appropriate behaviour. This account thus develops functional reduction in a new way, employing cases drawn from cutting-edge scientific practice. This is important since it provides a reductionist account in the life sciences that can solve traditional issues faced by reductionism in this context such as multiple realisability, as it provides a more flexible and local approach to reduction, which is also compatible with emergence and with accounts of mechanisms. Relatedly, functional reduction allows for a reductionist picture that is non-eliminativist at the ontological level and clarifies the puzzling status of biochemical entities and genes.

The structure of the talk will be the following. I will first present why reductionism is often considered unfeasible in the life sciences and what functional reductionism is. Then, I will apply functional reductionism to biochemical functions by showing that they can be accounted for by a two-tier reductionist strategy. I will conclude by exploring the consequences of this account for emergence and possible objections.


14:00-16:00 CET


Salle des Thèses


Pieter Thyssen