Bruno Latour coined the term irreductionism (sometimes referred to as non-reductionism) in his book, The Pasteurization of France. This term is a response to the practice of reductionism by which knowledge makers have a single account to explain diverse and complex phenomena. Instead, Latour describes irreductionism as a principle, "nothing is, by itself, either reducible or irreducible to anything else (158).

In the introduction of their book, Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, Bryant, Srnicek, and Harmon describe irreductionism where, "all entities are equally real (though not equally strong) insofar as they act on other entities. While nonhuman actors such as germs, weather patterns, atoms, and mountains obviously relate to the world around them, the same is true of Harry Potter, the Virgin Mary, democracies, and hallucinations. The incorporeal and corporeal realms are equally capable of having effects on the world. Moreover, the effort to reduce one level of reality to another invariably leaves residues of the reduced entity that are not fully translatable by the reduction: no interpretation of a dream or a historical event ever gets it quite right, nor would it even be possible to do so" (5).

Bryant, Srnicek and Harmon are stating four aspects of irredutionism that are echoed throughout Latour’s work. The first is that human, nonhuman, and dead material are all real and can act (see actant); to remember that both material and symbolic do have the capacity to shape things in the world and each other (thus should not be severed); one cannot create knowledge that can explain diverse phenomena (no universals); and finally every piece of knowledge constructed is immersed in a network that is constantly making and remaking itself, that is, it can extend the network (Latour 226).

The practice of the irreduction principle might included practices that try to render things in different ways. Latour explains that, "Nothing is known--only realized" (159). This being said, he points out that by conducting scientific research in a specific (and demanded) method, subordinate materials are suppressed into silence (214). In addition, a scientist (or knowledge makers for that matter) should not consider that they are conducting research on something from nature, but rather they are making knowledge within their laboratories (214).

Some critiques of irreductionism include...

Bruno Latour

Latour, Bruno. The Pasteurization of France. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988. Print.
Bryant, Levi R., Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne, Victoria, S. Aust.:, 2011.