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Reductionism in philosophy describes a number of related, contentious theories that hold, very roughly, that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to (explained by) simpler or more fundamental things. This is said of objects, phenomena, explanations, theories, and meanings. The term is often used to criticize an imagined position rather than to describe a real one.

The denial of reductionist ideas is holism; the idea that things can have properties as a whole that are not explainable from the properties of their parts.