David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):260-282 (2004)
This article focuses on emergence in social systems. The author begins by proposing a new tool to explore the mechanisms of social emergence: multi agentbased computer simulation. He then draws on philosophy of mind to develop an account of social emergence that raises potential problems for the methodological individualism of both social mechanism and of multi agent simulation. He then draws on various complexity concepts to propose a set of criteria whereby one can determine whether a given social mechanism generates emergent properties, in the sense that their explanation cannot be reduced to a mechanistic account of individuals and their interactions. This combined account helps to resolve the competing claims of methodological individualists and social realists. The authors conclusion is that the scope of mechanistic explanation may be limited due to the extreme complexity of many social systems. Key Words: emergence mechanism computer simulation methodological individualism social realism.
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