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MetaScience SIGNED

The Metaphysical Unity of Science

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "MetaScience" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: BS8 1QU

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 1˙995˙304 €
 EC max contribution 1˙995˙304 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-01   to  2023-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL UK (BRISTOL) coordinator 1˙995˙304.00


 Project objective

The Metaphysical Unity of Science project will pursue the question of what, if anything, unifies the natural sciences. The project studies the question from the perspective of metaphysics and philosophy of science by way of employing case studies from biology, chemistry, and physics.

What does it mean for one scientific phenomenon to be explained in terms of another? Under what conditions does scientific unification take place? In philosophy these questions are often discussed under the rubric of reduction. Typically, in asking whether one phenomenon reduces to another, we aim to understand what the ultimate or fundamental basis of the first phenomenon is. In the mid to late 20th century, there was a hope to reduce all higher level phenomena to fundamental physics. Yet, it was soon discovered that there are phenomena that cannot be easily reduced, so unification may not be available via this route.

The project’s ambitious goal is to produce a novel account of unification. This is made possible by recent breakthroughs in the methodology of metaphysics, an area sometimes called “metametaphysics”. The project’s objectives are (1) to establish the criteria for scientific unification; (2) to conduct case studies of actual scientific reductions at the biology-chemistry and the chemistry-physics interfaces; (3) to study the role of dependence relations weaker than reduction.

A cross-disciplinarily applicable toolbox for unification would be enormously useful for identifying the kind of expertise needed for studying a given phenomenon. This is not merely a philosophical problem. If there are reasons to think that a given biological phenomenon reduces to chemical phenomena, then biologists studying that phenomenon had better be prepared to consult and collaborate with the chemists. If a unification can be achieved, we can determine when scientists ought to consult their colleagues in other sciences and also when this is likely to be a hindrance instead of an advantage.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Tuomas E Tahko
Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization
published pages: , ISSN: 0007-0882, DOI: 10.1093/bjps/axy044
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2020-03-11
2019 Markku Keinänen, Tuomas E Tahko
Bundle Theory with Kinds
published pages: 838-857, ISSN: 0031-8094, DOI: 10.1093/pq/pqz021
The Philosophical Quarterly 69/277 2020-03-11
2019 Vanessa A. Seifert
Reduction and Emergence in Chemistry
published pages: , ISSN: 2161-0002, DOI:
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2020-03-11
2019 Vanessa A. Seifert
The role of idealisations in describing an isolated molecule
published pages: , ISSN: 1386-4238, DOI: 10.1007/s10698-019-09342-7
Foundations of Chemistry 2020-03-11

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