Forms of emergent interaction in general process theory

Synthese 166 (3):479 - 512 (2009)
General Process Theory (GPT) is a new (non-Whiteheadian) process ontology. According to GPT the domains of scientific inquiry and everyday practice consist of configurations of ‘goings-on’ or ‘dynamics’ that can be technically defined as concrete, dynamic, non-particular individuals called general processes. The paper offers a brief introduction to GPT in order to provide ontological foundations for research programs such as interactivism that centrally rely on the notions of ‘process,’ ‘interaction,’ and ‘emergence.’ I begin with an analysis of our common sense concept of activities, which plays a crucial heuristic role in the development of the notion of a general process. General processes are not individuated in terms of their location but in terms of ‘what they do,’ i.e., in terms of their dynamic relationships in the basic sense of one process being part of another. The formal framework of GPT is thus an extensional mereology, albeit a non-classical theory with a non-transitive part-relation. After a brief sketch of basic notions and strategies of the GPT-framework I show how the latter may be applied to distinguish between causal, mechanistic, functional, self-maintaining, and recursively self-maintaining interactions, all of which involve ‘emergent phenomena’ in various senses of the term.
Keywords Process ontology  Mereology  Emergence  Mechanism  Causation  Interaction  Selfmaintenance  Feedback
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DOI 10.2307/40271169
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References found in this work BETA
Jim Woodward (2002). What is a Mechanism? A Counterfactual Account. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S366-S377.
Paul W. Humphreys (1997). How Properties Emerge. Philosophy of Science 64 (1):1-17.

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Joseph E. Brenner (2010). A Logic of Ethical Information. Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (1-2):109-133.

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