Organon F

Volume 27, May 2020, Issue 2, Pages 142–168

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding

Michael J. Shaffer 


In this paper significant challenges are raised with respect to the view that explanation essentially involves unification. These objections are raised specifically with respect to the well-known versions of unificationism developed and defended by Michael Friedman and Philip Kitcher. The objections involve the explanatory regress argument and the concepts of reduction and scientific understanding. Essentially, the contention made here is that these versions of unificationism wrongly assume that reduction secures understanding.


Explanation; reduction; simplicity; scientific understanding; unification.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Michael J. Shaffer


St. Cloud State University


Department of Philosophy, St. Cloud State University, CH365N, 720 4th Ave. S., St. Cloud, MN 56301, USA


About this article


20 April 2019


6 August 2019

Published online

14 September 2019


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Shaffer, M.J. (2020). Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding. Organon F27(2), 142–168.


Shaffer, Michael J. 2020. "Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding." Organon F 27 (2): 142–168.


Shaffer, M.J.  (2020). Unification and the Myth of Purely Reductive Understanding. Organon F, 27(2), pp. 142–168.

Copyright information

© Michael J. Shaffer

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