Biologists Cut Reductionist Approach Down to Size

Science  25 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5325, pp. 476-477
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5325.476

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LONDON-- For the past 2 centuries, scientists have been animated by the belief that a complex system can be understood by seeking out its most fundamental constituents, an approach known as reductionism. Among biologists, however, resistance is growing to what has become known as "grand reductionism": the idea that the most fundamental layer of nature holds an explanation for all the features of the outer, higher layers. Recently a group of 30 distinguished biologists and other researchers met here at the Ciba Foundation to discuss the future potential for reductionism in biology.