David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 160 (2):229 - 248 (2005)
Recent developments in nonlinear dynamics have found wide application in many areas of science from physics to neuroscience. Nonlinear phenomena such as feedback loops, inter-level relations, wholes constraining and modifying the behavior of their parts, and memory effects are interesting candidates for emergence and downward causation. Rayleigh–Bénard convection is an example of a nonlinear system that, I suggest, yields important insights for metaphysics and philosophy of science. In this paper I propose convection as a model for downward causation in classical mechanics, far more robust and less speculative than the examples typically provided in the philosophy of mind literature. Although the physics of Rayleigh–Bénard convection is quite complicated, this model provides a much more realistic and concrete example for examining various assumptions and arguments found in emergence and philosophy of mind debates. After reviewing some key concepts of nonlinear dynamics, complex systems and the basic physics of Rayleigh–Bénard convection, I begin that examination here by (1) assessing a recently proposed definition for emergence and downward causation, (2) discussing some typical objections to downward causation and (3) comparing this model with Sperry’s examples
|Keywords||Downward causation Complex systems Nonlinear dynamics|
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Citations of this work BETA
Karen Bennett (2011). Construction Area (No Hard Hat Required). Philosophical Studies 154 (1):79-104.
Tony Chemero & Michael Silberstein (2008). After the Philosophy of Mind: Replacing Scholasticism with Science. Philosophy of Science 75 (1):1-27.
Cliff Hooker (2013). On the Import of Constraints in Complex Dynamical Systems. Foundations of Science 18 (4):757-780.
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