Emergence and adaptation

Minds and Machines 18 (4):493-520 (2008)
I investigate the relationship between adaptation, as defined in evolutionary theory through natural selection, and the concept of emergence. I argue that there is an essential correlation between the former, and “emergence” defined in the field of algorithmic simulations. I first show that the computational concept of emergence (in terms of incompressible simulation) can be correlated with a causal criterion of emergence (in terms of the specificity of the explanation of global patterns). On this ground, I argue that emergence in general involves some sort of selective processes. Finally, I show that a second criterion, concerning novel explanatory regularities following the emergence of a pattern, captures the robustness of emergence displayed by some cases of emergence (according to the first criterion). Emergent processes fulfilling both criteria are therefore exemplified in evolutionary biology by some so-called “innovations”, and mostly by the new units of fitness or new kinds of adaptations (like sexual reproduction, multicellular organisms, cells, societies) sometimes called “major transitions in evolution”, that recent research programs (Maynard-Smith and Szathmary 1995 ; Michod 1999 ) aims at explaining.
Keywords Adaptation   Causation   Cellular automata   Emergence   Evolutionary transitions   Macrostates   Robustness
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11023-008-9121-7
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jaegwon Kim (1999). Making Sense of Emergence. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.
Timothy O'Connor (1994). Emergent Properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (2):91-104.
Paul W. Humphreys (1997). How Properties Emerge. Philosophy of Science 64 (1):1-17.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

43 ( #78,165 of 1,725,958 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,758 of 1,725,958 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.