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Interlevel Metaphysics

Edited by Jessica Wilson (University of Toronto, University of Toronto at Scarborough)
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  1. Paul L. Allen (2013). An Augustinian Philosopher Between Dualism and Materialism: Ernan McMullin on Human Emergence. Zygon 48 (2):294-304.
    In claiming the independence of theology from science, Ernan McMullin nevertheless saw the danger of separating these disciplines on questions of mutual significance, as his accompanying article “Biology and the Theology of the Human” in this edition of Zygon shows. This paper analyzes McMullin's adoption of emergence as a qualified endorsement of a view that avoids the excesses of both dualism and materialism. I argue that McMullin's distinctive contribution is the conceptual clarification of emergence in the light of a precise (...)
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  2. Jiri Benovsky (2013). Philosophical Theories, Aesthetic Value, and Theory Choice. Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (3):191-205.
    The practice of attributing aesthetic properties to scientific and philosophical theories is commonplace. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of such an aesthetic judgement about a theory is Quine's in 'On what there is': "Wyman's overpopulated universe is in many ways unlovely. It offends the aesthetic sense of us who have a taste for desert landscapes". Many other philosophers and scientists, before and after Quine, have attributed aesthetic properties to particular theories they are defending or rejecting. One often hears (...)
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  3. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). A Theory of Granular Partitions. In Foundations of Geographic Information Science. Taylor & Francis.
    We have a variety of different ways of dividing up, classifying, mapping, sorting and listing the objects in reality. The theory of granular partitions presented here seeks to provide a general and unified basis for understanding such phenomena in formal terms that is more realistic than existing alternatives. Our theory has two orthogonal parts: the first is a theory of classification; it provides an account of partitions as cells and subcells; the second is a theory of reference or intentionality; it (...)
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  4. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). Granular Partitions and Vagueness. In Chris Welty & Barry Smith (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS). ACM Press.
    There are some who defend a view of vagueness according to which there are intrinsically vague objects or attributes in reality. Here, in contrast, we defend a view of vagueness as a semantic property of names and predicates. All entities are crisp, on this view, but there are, for each vague name, multiple portions of reality that are equally good candidates for being its referent, and, for each vague predicate, multiple classes of objects that are equally good candidates for being (...)
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  5. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2003). Granular Spatio-Temporal Ontologies. AAAI Symposium:12-17.
    We propose an ontological theory that is powerful enough to describe both complex spatio-temporal processes (occurrents) and the enduring entities (continuants) that participate therein. The theory is divided into two major categories of sub-theories: (sub-) theories of type SPAN and (sub-)theories of type SNAP. These theories represent two complementary perspectives on reality and result in distinct though compatible systems of categories. In SNAP we have enduring entities such as substances, qualities, roles, functions; in SPAN we have perduring entities such as (...)
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  6. Thomas Bittner & Barry Smith (2001). A Taxonomy of Granular Partitions. In Spatial Information Theory. Foundations of Geographic Information Science. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2205.
    In this paper we propose a formal theory of partitions (ways of dividing up or sorting or mapping reality) and we show how the theory can be applied in the geospatial domain. We characterize partitions at two levels: as systems of cells (theory A), and in terms of their projective relation to reality (theory B). We lay down conditions of well-formedness for partitions and we define what it means for partitions to project truly onto reality. We continue by classifying well-formed (...)
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  7. Maureen Donnelly & Barry Smith (2003). Layers: A New Approach to Locating Objects in Space. In W. Kuhn M. F. Worboys & S. Timpf (eds.), Spatial Information Theory: Foundations of Geographic Informa­tion Science. Springer.
    Standard theories in mereotopology focus on relations of parthood and connection among spatial or spatio-temporal regions. Objects or processes which might be located in such regions are not normally directly treated in such theories. At best, they are simulated via appeal to distributions of attributes across the regions occupied or by functions from times to regions. The present paper offers a richer framework, in which it is possible to represent directly the relations between entities of various types at different levels, (...)
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  8. Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne (2013). Naturalness. In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, vol. 8. Oxford University Press. 1.
    Lewis's notion of a "natural" property has proved divisive: some have taken to the notion with enthusiasm, while others have been sceptical. However, it is far from obvious what the enthusiasts and the sceptics are disagreeing about. This paper attempts to articulate what is at stake in this debate.
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  9. David J. Frost (2014). John Heil: The Universe As We Find It. [REVIEW] Philosophia 42 (1):243-249.
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  10. M. Füllsack (2012). Author's Response: Systems as Realities Sui Generis with Eigenbehavior? Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):114-116.
    Upshot: The differentiation between society being emergent or sui generis seems to correspond to the question of whether the development of interaction, in particular communication, should better be considered bottom-up, top-down or as a sort of circular concurrency of bottom-up and top-down causes. This is reminiscent of the philosophical debate about the implications of the terms emergence and downward causation.
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  11. Brian Jonathan Garrett (2013). Constitution, Over Determination and Causal Power. Ratio 26 (2):162-178.
    Kim's exclusion argument threatens to show that irreducible constituted objects are epiphenomenal. Kim's arguments are examined and found to be unconvincing; that a constituted cause requires its constituent to be a cause is not an adequate reason to reject the causation of the constituted object (event or property-instance). However, I introduce and argue for, the Causal Power Uniqueness Condition (CPUC). I argue that CPUC and the causal closure of the physical, implies that constituted objects or property-instances are not novel causal (...)
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  12. Carl Gillett (2013). Constitution, and Multiple Constitution, in the Sciences: Using the Neuron to Construct a Starting Framework. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 23 (3):309-337.
    Inter-level mechanistic explanations in the sciences have long been a focus of philosophical interest, but attention has recently turned to the compositional character of these explanations which work by explaining higher level entities, whether processes, individuals or properties, using the lower level entities they take to compose them. However, we still have no theoretical account of the constitution or parthood relations between individuals deployed in such explanations, nor any accounts of multiple constitution. My primary focus in this paper is to (...)
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  13. Jens Harbecke (2013). The Role of Supervenience and Constitution in Neuroscientific Research. Synthese:1-19.
    This paper is concerned with the notions of supervenience and mechanistic constitution as they have been discussed in the philosophy of neuroscience. Since both notions essentially involve specific dependence and determination relations among properties and sets of properties, the question arises whether the notions are systematically connected and how they connect to science. In a first step, some definitions of supervenience and mechanistic constitution are presented and tested for logical independence. Afterwards, certain assumptions fundamental to neuroscientific inquiry are made explicit (...)
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  14. Anand Kumar & Barry Smith, The Ontology of Blood Pressure: A Case Study in Creating Ontological Partitions in Biomedicine. IFOMIS Reports.
    We provide a methodology for the creation of ontological partitions in biomedicine and we test the methodology via an application to the phenomenon of blood pressure. An ontology of blood pressure must do justice to the complex networks of intersecting pathways in the organism by which blood pressure is regulated. To this end it must deal not only with the anatomical structures and physiological processes involved in such regulation but also with the relations between these at different levels of granularity. (...)
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  15. Shaun Le Boutillier (2013). Emergence and Reduction. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (2):205-225.
    The question of the ontological status of social wholes has been formative to the development of key positions and debates within modern social theory. Intrinsic to this is the contested meaning of the concept of emergence and the idea that the collective whole is in some way more than the sum of its parts. This claim, in its contemporary form, gives exaggerated importance to a simple truism of re-description that concerns all wholes. In this paper I argue that a better (...)
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  16. Kevin Morris (2014). Supervenience Physicalism, Emergentism, and the Polluted Supervenience Base. Erkenntnis 79 (2):351-365.
    A prominent objection to supervenience physicalism is that a definition of physicalism in terms of supervenience allows for physicalism to be compatible with nonphysicalist outlooks, such as certain forms of emergentism. I take as my starting point a recent defense of supervenience physicalism from this objection. According to this line of thought, the subvenient base for emergent properties cannot be said to be purely physical; rather, it is “polluted” with emergent features in virtue of necessarily giving rise to them. Thus, (...)
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  17. Matteo Mossio, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno (2013). Emergence, Closure and Inter-Level Causation in Biological Systems. Erkenntnis 78 (2):153-178.
    In this paper, we advocate the idea that an adequate explanation of biological systems requires appealing to organizational closure as an emergent causal regime. We first develop a theoretical justification of emergence in terms of relatedness, by arguing that configurations, because of the relatedness among their constituents, possess ontologically irreducible properties, providing them with distinctive causal powers. We then focus on those emergent causal powers exerted as constraints, and we claim that biological systems crucially differ from other natural systems in (...)
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  18. L. A. Paul (2013). Categorical Priority and Categorical Collapse. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):89-113.
    I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
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  19. Matthias Scheutz (2004). “Causation” is Only Part of the Answer. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):634-635.
    Although Ross & Spurrett (R&S) successfully fend off the threat of Kim's “supervenience argument” by showing that it conflates different notions of causation, their proposal for a dynamic systems answer to the mind-body problem is itself yet another supervenience claim in need of an explanation that justifies it. The same goes for their notion of “multiple supervenience.”.
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  20. Barry Smith (2012). How to Do Things with Documents. Rivista di Estetica 50 (50):179-198.
    This essay is a contribution to social ontology, drawing on the work of John Searle and of Hernando de Soto. At the center of the argument is the proposition advanced by de Soto in his Mystery of Capital to the effect that many of the entities which structure our contemporary social reality are entities which exist in virtue of the fact that there are (paper or digital) documents which support their existence. I here develop de Soto’s argument further, focusing specifically (...)
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  21. Barry Smith (2001). A Taxonomy of Granular Partitions. In Spatial Information Theory: Foundations of Geographic Information Science (COSIT 2001).
    In this paper we propose a formal theory of partitions (ways of dividing up or sorting or mapping reality) and we show how the theory can be applied in the geospatial domain. We characterize partitions at two levels: as systems of cells (theory A), and in terms of their projective relation to reality (theory B). We lay down conditions of well-formedness for partitions and we define what it means for partitions to project truly onto reality. We continue by classifying well-formed (...)
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  22. Barry Smith & Berit Brogaard (2003). A Unified Theory of Truth and Reference. Logique Et Analyse 169 (169-170):49–93.
    The truthmaker theory rests on the thesis that the link between a true judgment and that in the world to which it corresponds is not a one-to-one but rather a one-to-many relation. An analogous thesis in relation to the link between a singular term and that in the world to which it refers is already widely accepted. This is the thesis to the effect that singular reference is marked by vagueness of a sort that is best understood in supervaluationist terms. (...)
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  23. Barry Smith, Werner Ceusters, Bert Klagges, Jacob Köhler, Anand Kuma, Jane Lomax, Chris Mungall, , Fabian Neuhaus, Alan Rector & Cornelius Rosse (2005). Relations in Biomedical Ontologies. Genome Biology 6 (5):R46.
    To enhance the treatment of relations in biomedical ontologies we advance a methodology for providing consistent and unambiguous formal definitions of the relational expressions used in such ontologies in a way designed to assist developers and users in avoiding errors in coding and annotation. The resulting Relation Ontology can promote interoperability of ontologies and support new types of automated reasoning about the spatial and temporal dimensions of biological and medical phenomena.
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  24. Barry Smith & Pierre Grenon (2004). The Cornucopia of Formal-Ontological Relations. Dialectica 58 (3):279–296.
    The paper presents a new method for generating typologies of formal-ontological relations. The guiding idea is that formal relations are those sorts of relations which hold between entities which are constituents of distinct ontologies. We provide examples of ontologies (in the spirit of Zemach’s classic “Four Ontologies” of 1970), and show how these can be used to give a rich typology of formal relations in a way which also throws light on the opposition between threeand four-dimensionalism.
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  25. Alex Steinberg (2014). Defining Global Supervenience. Erkenntnis 79 (2):367-380.
    What does it mean that certain properties globally supervene on others? The paper criticises the now standard way of spelling out the notion in terms of 1–1 correlations between world-domains and proposes a modification that escapes the difficulties. The new definition can secure the additional benefit of resisting an argument to the effect that global supervenience is theoretically dispensable.
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  26. Eric Steinhart (2012). Ontology in the Game of Life. Axiomathes 22 (3):403-416.
    The game of life is an excellent framework for metaphysical modeling. It can be used to study ontological categories like space, time, causality, persistence, substance, emergence, and supervenience. It is often said that there are many levels of existence in the game of life. Objects like the glider are said to exist on higher levels. Our goal here is to work out a precise formalization of the thesis that there are various levels of existence in the game of life. To (...)
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  27. John Symons (2010). Emergence and Reflexive Downward. Principia 6 (1):183-201.
    This paper responds to Jaegwon Kim's powerful objection to the very possibility of geninely novel emergent properties. Kim argues that the incoherence of reflexive downward causation means that the causal power of an emergent phenomenon is ultimately reducible to the causal powers of the causal powers of its constituents. I offer a simple argument showing how to claracterize emergent properties in terms of the effects of structural relations on the causal powers of their constituents.
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  28. Mariusz Tabaczek (2013). The Metaphysics of Downward Causation: Rediscovering the Formal Cause. Zygon 48 (2):380-404.
    The methodological nonreductionism of contemporary biology opens an interesting discussion on the level of ontology and the philosophy of nature. The theory of emergence (EM), and downward causation (DC) in particular, bring a new set of arguments challenging not only methodological, but also ontological and causal reductionism. This argumentation provides a crucial philosophical foundation for the science/theology dialogue. However, a closer examination shows that proponents of EM do not present a unified and consistent definition of DC. Moreover, they find it (...)
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  29. Jonathan Tallant (2013). Problems of Parthood for Proponents of Priority. Analysis 73 (3):429-438.
    According to some views of reality, some objects are fundamental and other objects depend for their existence upon these fundamental objects. In this article, I argue that we have reason to reject these views.
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  1. Evandro Agazzi, Luisa Montecucco & M. Buzzoni (2005). Complexity and Emergence. Epistemologia 28 (2).
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  2. Samuel Alexander (1920/1966). Space, Time, and Deity: The Gifford Lectures at Glasgow 1916-1918. Dover Publications.
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  3. Peter M. Allen & Mark Strathern (2003). Evolution, Emergence, and Learning in Complex Systems. Emergence 5 (4):8-33.
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  4. Harald Atmanspacher (2007). Contextual Emergence From Physics to Cognitive Neuroscience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (1-2):18-36.
    The concept of contextual emergence has been proposed as a non-reductive, yet well- defined relation between different levels of description of physical and other systems. It is illustrated for the transition from statistical mechanics to thermodynamical properties such as temperature. Stability conditions are shown to be crucial for a rigorous implementation of contingent contexts that are required to understand temperature as an emergent property. Are such stability conditions meaningful for contextual emergence beyond physics as well? An affirmative example from cognitive (...)
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  5. Ansgar Beckermann (1992). Supervenience, Emergence, and Reduction. In Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter. 94--118.
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  6. Ansgar Beckermann, Hans Flohr & Jaegwon Kim (1992). Emergence or Reduction?: Prospects for Nonreductive Physicalism. De Gruyter.
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  7. Mark A. Bedau (2008). Is Weak Emergence Just in the Mind? Minds and Machines 18 (4):443-459.
    Weak emergence is the view that a system’s macro properties can be explained by its micro properties but only in an especially complicated way. This paper explains a version of weak emergence based on the notion of explanatory incompressibility and “crawling the causal web.” Then it examines three reasons why weak emergence might be thought to be just in the mind. The first reason is based on contrasting mere epistemological emergence with a form of ontological emergence that involves irreducible downward (...)
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  8. Mark A. Bedau (2002). Downward Causation and the Autonomy of Weak Emergence. Principia 6 (1):5-50.
    Weak emergence has been offered as an explication of the ubiquitous notion of emergence used in complexity science (Bedau 1997). After outlining the problem of emergence and comparing weak emergence with the two other main objectivist approaches to emergence, this paper explains a version of weak emergence and illustrates it with cellular automata. Then it explains the sort of downward causation and explanatory autonomy involved in weak emergence.
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  9. Carlton W. Berenda (1953). On Emergence and Prediction. Journal of Philosophy 50 (April):269-74.
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  10. Gustav Bergmann (1944). Holism, Historicism, and Emergence. Philosophy of Science 11 (March):209-21.
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  11. Reinaldo Bernal Velásquez (2012). E-Physicalism. A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness. Ontos Verlag.
    This work advances a theory in the metaphysics of phenomenal consciousness, which the author labels “e-physicalism”. Firstly, he endorses a realist stance towards consciousness and physicalist metaphysics. Secondly, he criticises Strong AI and functionalist views, and claims that consciousness has an internal character. Thirdly, he discusses HOT theories, the unity of consciousness, and holds that the “explanatory gap” is not ontological but epistemological. Fourthly, he argues that consciousness is not a supervenient but an emergent property, not reducible and endowed with (...)
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  12. Mark H. Bickhard (2004). Process and Emergence: Normative Function and Representation. Axiomathes - An International Journal in Ontology and Cognitive Systems 14:135-169.
    Emergence seems necessary for any naturalistic account of the world — none of our familiar world existed at the time of the Big Bang, and it does now — and normative emergence is necessary for any naturalistic account of biology and mind — mental phenomena, such as representation, learning, rationality, and so on, are normative. But Jaegwon Kim’s argument appears to render causally efficacious emergence impossible, and Hume’s argument appears to render normative emergence impossible, and, in its general form, it (...)
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  13. Mark H. Bickhard (2000). Emergence. In P.B. Andersen, Claus Emmeche, N.O. Finnemann & P.V. Christiansen (eds.), Downward Causation. University of Aarhus Press. 322-348.
    * This paper was to have been written jointly with Don Campbell. His tragic death on May 6, 1996, occurred before we had been able to do much planning for the paper. As a result, this is undoubtedly a very different paper than if Don and I had written it together, and, undoubtedly, not as good a paper. Nevertheless, I believe it maintains at least the spirit of what we had discussed. Clearly, all errors are mine alone.
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  14. Alexander Bird (2008). Causal Exclusion and Evolved Emergent Properties. In Ruth Groff (ed.), Revitalizing Causality: Realism About Causality in Philosophy and Social Science. Routledge. 163--78.
    Emergent properties are intended to be genuine, natural higher level causally efficacious properties irreducible to physical ones. At the same time they are somehow dependent on or 'emergent from' complexes of physical properties, so that the doctrine of emergent properties is not supposed to be returned to dualism. The doctrine faces two challenges: (i) to explain precisely how it is that such properties emerge - what is emergence; (ii) to explain how they sidestep the exclusion problem - how it is (...)
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  15. Michel Bitbol (2007). Ontology, Matter and Emergence. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (3):293-307.
    “Ontological emergence” of inherent high-level properties with causal powers is witnessed nowhere. A non-substantialist conception of emergence works much better. It allows downward causation, provided our concept of causality is transformed accordingly.
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  16. James Blachowicz (2013). The Constraint Interpretation of Physical Emergence. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 44 (1):21-40.
    I develop a variant of the constraint interpretation of the emergence of purely physical (non-biological) entities, focusing on the principle of the non-derivability of actual physical states from possible physical states (physical laws) alone. While this is a necessary condition for any account of emergence, it is not sufficient, for it becomes trivial if not extended to types of constraint that specifically constitute physical entities, namely, those that individuate and differentiate them. Because physical organizations with these features are in fact (...)
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  17. Mario Bunge (1977). Emergence and the Mind. Neuroscience 2:501-9.
  18. J. Butterfield (2011). Less is Different: Emergence and Reduction Reconciled. [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 41 (6):1065-1135.
    This is a companion to another paper. Together they rebut two widespread philosophical doctrines about emergence. The first, and main, doctrine is that emergence is incompatible with reduction. The second is that emergence is supervenience; or more exactly, supervenience without reduction.In the other paper, I develop these rebuttals in general terms, emphasising the second rebuttal. Here I discuss the situation in physics, emphasising the first rebuttal. I focus on limiting relations between theories and illustrate my claims with four examples, each (...)
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  19. John Ross Churchill (2010). Nonreductive Physicalism or Emergent Dualism : The Argument From Mental Causation. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism. Oxford University Press.
    Throughout the 1990s, Jaegwon Kim developed a line of argument that what purport to be nonreductive forms of physicalism are ultimately untenable, since they cannot accommodate the causal efficacy of mental states. His argument has received a great deal of discussion, much of it critical. We believe that, while the argument needs some tweaking, its basic thrust is sound. In what follows, we will lay out our preferred version of the argument and highlight its essential dependence on a causal-powers metaphysic, (...)
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  20. P. Clayton (ed.) (2006). Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford University Press.
    In addition to treatments of questions of methodology and implications for life and practice, the Handbook includes sections devoted to the major scientific ...
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  21. Philip Clayton (2006). Emergence From Physics to Theology: Toward a Panoramic View. Zygon 41 (3):675-687.
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