David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 185 (2):215-232 (2012)
In this article an epistemological framework is proposed in order to integrate the emergentist thought with systemic studies on biological autonomy, which are focused on the role of organization. Particular attention will be paid to the role of the observer’s activity, especially: (a) the different operations he performs in order to identify the pertinent elements at each descriptive level, and (b) the relationships between the different models he builds from them. According to the approach sustained here, organization will be considered as the result of a specific operation of identification of the relational properties of the functional components of a system, which do not necessarily coincide with the intrinsic properties of its structural constituents. Also, an epistemological notion of emergence—that of “complex emergence”—will be introduced, which can be defined as the insufficiency, even in principle, of a single descriptive modality to provide a complete description of certain classes of systems. This integrative framework will allow us to deal with two issues in biological and emergentist studies: (1) distinguishing the autonomy proper of living systems from some physical processes like those of structural stability and pattern generation, and (2) reconsidering the notion of downward causation not as a direct or indirect influence of the whole on its parts, but instead as an epistemological problem of interaction between descriptive domains in which the concept of organization proposed and the observational operations related to it play a crucial role
|Keywords||Autopoiesis Biological autonomy Complex emergence Downward causation Organization Pattern generation|
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References found in this work BETA
Jaegwon Kim (1998). Mind in a Physical World: An Essay on the Mind-Body Problem and Mental Causation. MIT Press.
Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson & Eleanor Rosch (1991). The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. MIT Press.
Humberto R. Maturana & Francisco G. Varela (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition the Realization of the Living.
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Citations of this work BETA
Matteo Mossio, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno (2013). Emergence, Closure and Inter-Level Causation in Biological Systems. Erkenntnis 78 (2):153-178.
Matteo Mossio & Leonardo Bich (forthcoming). What Makes Biological Organisation Teleological? Synthese:1-26.
Kari L. Theurer (2014). Complexity-Based Theories of Emergence: Criticisms and Constraints. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (3):277-301.
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