What drives much of the current philosophical interest in the idea of group cognition is its appeal to the manifestation of psychological properties—understood broadly to include states, processes, and dispositions—that are in some important yet elusive sense emergent with respect to the minds of individual group members. Our goal in this paper is to address a set of related, conditional questions: If human mentality is real yet emergent in a modest metaphysical sense only, then: (i) What would it mean for (...) a group to have emergent cognitive states? (ii) Is this even a metaphysically coherent view? (iii) Relative to which notion of emergence do we have reason to believe that certain groups in fact have emergent cognitive states? We shall argue that evidence from a wide variety of social science domains makes it plausible that there are group cognitive states and processes no less metaphysically emergent than human cognitive (and other special science) states and processes. (shrink)
As brightly shown by Mainzer , the science of complexity has many distinct origins in many disciplines. Those various origins has led to “an interdisciplinary methodology to explain the emergence of certain macroscopic phenomena via the nonlinear interactions of microscopic elements” (ibid.). This paper suggests that the parallel and strong expansion of modeling and simulation - especially after the Second World War and the subsequent development of computers - is a rationale which also can be counted as an explanation (...) of this emergence. With the benefit of hindsight, one can find three periods in the methodologies of modeling in the empirical sciences: 1st the simple modeling of the simple, 2nd the simple modeling of the complex, 3rd the complex modeling and simulation of the complex. Our main thesis is that the current spreading (since the 90’s) of complex computer simulations of systems of models (where a simulation is no more a step by step calculus of a unique logico-mathematical model) is another promising dimension of the science of complexity. Following this claim, we propose to distinguish three different types of computer simulations in the context of complex systems’ modeling. Finally, we show that these types of simulations lead to three different types of weak emergence, too. (shrink)
Weak emergence has been offered as an explication of the ubiquitous notion of emergence used in complexity science (Bedau 1997). After outlining the problem of emergence and comparing weak emergence with the two other main objectivist approaches to emergence, this paper explains a version of weak emergence and illustrates it with cellular automata. Then it explains the sort of downward causation and explanatory autonomy involved in weak emergence.
Note: some of the content of this paper, though not organized in this form, will enter into a book-in-progress, _Metaphysical Emergence_. Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reﬂecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Luckily for philosophical purposes, however, much of this apparent diversity is (...) superficial---or so I argue in this paper. I start by considering a notorious problematic associated with special science entities---namely, the problem of higher-level causation (a generalization of the problem of mental causation). As we will see, of the various strategies for addressing this problem there are two which plausibly accommodate both the dependence and the ontological and causal autonomy of special science entities. -/- These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence, which I call 'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. The two schema are similar in that each imposes a (different, specific) condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent, relative to the powers of their dependence base entities. (Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically almost entirely neutral, primarily reﬂecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may---perhaps only contingently---bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features.) But the conditions, and accounts, are also crucially different; in particular, one is compatible with physicalism, while the other is not. I go on to consider the main accounts of emergent dependence and emergent autonomy, showing how, properly understood and (in some cases) diambiguated, these aim to instantiate one or the other schema. (shrink)
I outline reasons for the recent popularity, and lingering suspicion, about 'emergence' by examining three distinct concepts of property emergence, their purposes and associated obligations. In Part 1, I argue 'Strong' emergence is the grail for many emergentists (and physicalists), since it frames what is needed to block the 'Argument from Realization' (AR) which moves from the truth of physicalism to the inefficacy of special science properties. I then distinguish 'Weak' and 'Ontological' emergence, in Part 2, (...) arguing each is a way one may fail to establish the possibility of Strong emergence. But I also show Weak emergence can help the full-blown reductionist and Ontological emergence helps those opposed to physicalism. Lastly, in Part 3, I argue that the Completeness of Physics (CoP) is incompatible with Strong emergence and that rejecting CoP provides hope for the possibility of Strong emergence in a physical world. The result is a notion of Strong emergence offering much to non-reductive physicalism. My final conclusion is that concepts of emergence, when properly understood, have important contributions to make to philosophical debate. (shrink)
A phenomenon “emerges” when a concept is instantiated for the first time: hence emergence is relative to a set of concepts. Propositional thought and language emerge together. It is proposed that the degree of complexity of an object language relative to a given metalanguage can be gauged by the number of ways it can be translated into that metalanguage: in analogy with other forms of measurement, the more ways the object language can be translated into the metalanguage, the less (...) powerful the conceptual resources of the object language. (shrink)
This volume introduces readers to emergence theory, outlines the major arguments in its defence, and summarizes the most powerful objections against it. It provides the clearest explication yet of this exciting new theory of science, which challenges the reductionist approach by proposing the continuous emergence of novel phenomena.
Emergence requires that the ultimate physical micro-entities have micro-latent causal powers, which manifest themselves only when the entities are combined in ways that are emergence-engendering, in addition to the micro-manifest powers that account for their behavior in other circumstances. Subjects of emergent properties will have emergent micro-structural properties, specified partly in terms of these micro-latent powers, each of which will be determined by a micro-structural property specified only in terms of the micro-manifest powers of the constituents and the (...) way they are related. If the determiner and the determined properties are distinct, this determination is the basis of the supervenience of emergent properties on non-emergent physical properties. If not, emergence does not involve such supervenience. Either way, there is no problem with diachronic downward causation. (shrink)
The concept of emergence is widely used in both the philosophy of mind and in cognitive science. In the philosophy of mind it serves to refer to seemingly irreducible phenomena, in cognitive science it is often used to refer to phenomena not explicitly programmed. There is no unique concept of emergence available that serves both purposes.
In modern, Western societies the purpose of schooling is to ensure that school-goers acquire knowledge of pre-existing practices, events, entities and so on. The knowledge that is learned is then tested to see if the learner has acquired a correct or adequate understanding of it. For this reason, it can be argued that schooling is organised around a representational epistemology: one which holds that knowledge is an accurate representation of something that is separate from knowledge itself. Since the object of (...) knowledge is assumed to exist separately from the knowledge itself, this epistemology can also be considered ‘spatial.’ In this paper we show how ideas from complexity have challenged the spatial epistemology’ of representation and we explore possibilities for an alternative ‘temporal’ understanding of knowledge in its relationship to reality. In addition to complexity, our alternative takes its inspiration from Deweyan ‘transactional realism’ and deconstruction. We suggest that ‘knowledge’ and ‘reality’ should not be understood as separate systems which somehow have to be brought into alignment with each other, but that they are part of the same emerging complex system which is never fully ‘present’ in any (discrete) moment in time. This not only introduces the notion of time into our understanding of the relationship between knowledge and reality, but also points to the importance of acknowledging the role of the ‘unrepresentable’ or ‘incalculable’. With this understanding knowledge reaches us not as something we receive but as a response, which brings forth new worlds because it necessarily adds something (which was not present anywhere before it appeared) to what came before. This understanding of knowledge suggests that the acquisition of curricular content should not be considered an end in itself. Rather, curricular content should be used to bring forth that which is incalculable from the perspective of the present. The epistemology of emergence therefore calls for a switch in focus for curricular thinking, away from questions about presentation and representation and towards questions about engagement and response. (shrink)
It is becoming increasingly common to find phenomena described as emergent. There are two sorts of philosophical analysis of emergence. Ontological analyses ground emergence in real, distinct, emergent properties. Epistemological analyses deny emergent properties and stress instead facts about our epistemic status. I review a standard worry for ontological analyses of emergence, that they entail a surfeit of metaphysics, and find that it can easily be sidestepped. I go on to present a new worry, that ontological emergentism (...) entails a highly implausible ontology, which is harder for the ontological emergentist to avoid. (shrink)
Most philosophical accounts of emergence are incompatible with reduction. Most scientists regard a system property as emergent relative to properties of the system's parts if it depends upon their mode of organization--a view consistent with reduction. Emergence can be analyzed as a failure of aggregativity--a state in which "the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts." Aggregativity requires four conditions, giving tools for analyzing modes of organization. Differently met for different decompositions of the system, and (...) in different degrees, these conditions provide powerful evaluation criteria for choosing decompositions, and heuristics for detecting biases of vulgar reductionisms. This analysis of emergence is compatible with reduction. (shrink)
This paper explicates two notions of emergencewhich are based on two ways of distinguishinglevels of properties for dynamical systems.Once the levels are defined, the strategies ofcharacterizing the relation of higher level to lower levelproperties as diachronic and synchronic emergenceare the same. In each case, the higher level properties aresaid to be emergent if they are novel or irreducible with respect to the lower level properties. Novelty andirreducibility are given precise meanings in terms of the effectsthat the change of a bifurcation (...) or perturbation parameterin the system has. (The same strategy can be applied to otherways of separating levels of properties, like themicro/macro distinction.)The notions of emergence developed here are notions of emergencein a weak sense: the higher level emergent properties wecapture are always structural properties (or are realized insuch properties), that is, they are defined in terms of the lowerlevel properties and their relations. Diachronic and synchronicemergent properties are distinctions within thecategory of structural properties. (shrink)
This paper tries to get a grip on two seemingly conflicting intuitions about reductionism in quantum mechanics. On the one hand it is received wisdom that quantum mechanics puts an end to ‘reductionism’. Quantum-entanglement is responsible for such features of quantum mechanics as holism, the failure of supervenience and emergence. While I agree with these claims I will argue that it is only part of the story. Quantum mechanics provides us with thorough-going reductionist explanations. I will distinguish two kinds (...) of micro-explanation (or micro-‘reduction’). I will argue that even though quantum-entanglement provides an example for the failure of one kind of micro-explanation it does not affect the other. Contrary to a recent paper by Kronz and Tiehen I claim that the explanation of the dynamics of quantum mechanical systems is just as reductionist as it used to be in classical mechanics. (shrink)
The nonlinearity of a composite system, whereby certain of its features (including powers and behaviors) cannot be seen as linear or other broadly additive combinations of features of the system's composing entities, has been frequently seen as a mark of metaphysical emergence, coupling the dependence of a composite system on an underlying system of composing entities with the composite system's ontological autonomy from its underlying system. But why think that nonlinearity is a mark of emergence, and moreover, of (...) metaphysical rather than merely epistemological emergence? Are there diverse ways in which nonlinearity might enter into an account of properly metaphysical emergence? And what are the prospects for there actually being phenomena that are metaphysically emergent in any available sense? Here I explore the mutual bearing of nonlinearity and metaphysical emergence, with an eye towards answering these and related questions. (shrink)
A variety of recent philosophical discussions, particularly on topics relating to complexity, have begun to reemploy the concept of 'emergence'. Although multiple concepts of 'emergence' are available, little effort has been made to systematically distinguish them. In this paper, I provide a taxonomy of higher-order properties that (inter alia) distinguishes three classes of emergent properties: (1) ontologically basic properties of complex entities, such as the mythical vital properties, (2) fully configurational properties, such as mental properties as they are (...) conceived of by functionalists and computationalists, and (3) highly configurational/holistic properties, such as the higher-level patterns characteristic of complex dynamical systems. Or more simply: emergence as ontological liberality, emergence as multiple realizability, and emergence as interactive complexity. (shrink)
Non-reductive physicalists have made a number of attempts to provide the relation of supervenience between levels of properties with enough bite to analyze interesting cases without at the same time losing the relation's acceptability for the physicalist. I criticize some of these proposals and suggest an alternative supplementation of the supervenience relation by imposing a requirement of robustness which is motivated by the notion of structural stability familiar from dynamical systems theory. Robust supervenience, I argue, captures what the non-reductive physicalist (...) wants from supervenience; most importantly, it provides a natural background for reconstructing the notion of (diachronic) property emergence in a way acceptable to physicalists. (shrink)
Examination of attempts at theory reduction (S to T) shows that a process of cognitive emergence is involved in which concepts of S, Cs, emerge from T. This permits the 'bridge laws' to be stated. These are not in conflict with incommensurability of the Cs with the CT. Cognitive emergence may occur asymptotically or because of similarities of mathematical expressions; it is not necessarily holistic. Mereologically and nonmereologically related theory pairs are considered. Examples are chosen from physics. An (...) important distinction is made between 'theory reduction' and 'reductive explanation'. (shrink)
I physicalism1 and the weak identity theory deny, while physicalism2 and the radical identity theory assert, that raw feels can be accomodated in a purely physicalistic framework. II A way of interpreting the claim of physicalism1 is that raw feels are emergents. III The doctrine of emergence asserts that: (i) there are different levels of existence, (ii) these levels of existence are distinguishable on the basis of the behaviour of entities of that level, and (iii) an adequate scientific explanation (...) of a lower level is inadequate for a higher level. IV The criteria of emergence are novelty and a priori unpredictability. V Either qualities or laws or both may be regarded as emergents. VI If the alleged impossibility of explaining higher level phenomena on the basis of explanation adequate for lower level phenomena is logical, then the impossibility is either trivial or it implies indeterminism. Consideration of theories of emergence: VII Semantic emergence. On this view emergence is theory-bound, analogous to indefinability or indemonstrability. VIII Methodological emergence. On this view what we regard as emergents depends on the theory we construct. IX Nomological emergence. On this view emergence is an empirical problem. Conclusion: if there are emergents, physicalism2 and the radical identity theory probably have to be abandoned. However, unless actual examples of emergents are produced both theories hold. The logical possibility of falsification is not an objection against physicalism2 and the radical identity theory; it is one of their merits. (shrink)
Contemporary scientific theories assume a primarily micro-deterministic view of nature. This paper explores the question of whether micro-determinism is incompatible with the alleged emergence of properties and laws that some biologists and philosophers assert occurs in various biological systems. I argue that a preferable unified treatment of these emergence claims takes properties, rather than laws, to be the units of emergence. Four distinct conceptions of emergence are explored and three shown to be compatible with micro-determinism. The (...) remaining concept of emergence, direct macro-determination, does not, I argue, meet the general requirement that an adequate scientific explanation provide a coherent mechanism or effective means of determination. (shrink)
This essay considers the extent to which a concept of emergence can be associated with Effective Field Theories (EFTs). I suggest that such a concept can be characterized by microphysicalism and novelty underwritten by the elimination of degrees of freedom from a high-energy theory, and argue that this makes emergence in EFTs distinct from other concepts of emergence in physics that have appeared in the recent philosophical literature.
. Philosopher-theologian Bernard J. F. Lonergan defines emergence as the process in which âotherwise coincidental manifolds of lower conjugate acts invite the higher integration effected by higher conjugate formsâ (Insight,  1992, 477). The meaning and implications of Lonergan’s concept of emergence are considered in the context of the problem of reductionism in the natural sciences. Examples are taken primarily from physics, chemistry, and biology.
This book is a state-of-the-art review on the Physics of Emergence. Foreword v Gregory J. Chaitin Preface vii Ignazio Licata Emergence and Computation at the Edge of Classical and Quantum Systems 1 Ignazio Licata Gauge Generalized Principle for Complex Systems 27 Germano Resconi Undoing Quantum Measurement: Novel Twists to the Physical Account of Time 61 Avshalom C. Elitzur and Shahar Dolev Process Physics: Quantum Theories as Models of Complexity 77 Kirsty Kitto A Cross-disciplinary Framework for the Description of (...) Contextually Mediated Change 109 Liane Gabora and Diederik Aerts Quantum-like Probabilistic Models Outside Physics 135 Andrei Khrennikov Phase Transitions in Biological Matter 165 Eliano Pessa Microcosm to Macrocosm via the Notion of a Sheaf (Observers in Terms of t-topos) 229 Goro Kato The Dissipative Quantum Model of Brain and Laboratory Observations 233 Walter J. Freeman and Giuseppe Vitiello Supersymmetric Methods in the Traveling Variable: Inside Neurons and at the Brain Scale 253 H.C. Rosu, O. Cornejo-Perez, and J.E. Perez-Terrazas Turing Systems: A General Model for Complex Patterns in Nature 267 R.A. Barrio Primordial Evolution in the Finitary Process Soup 297 Olof Gornerup and James P. Crutchfield Emergence of Universe from a Quantum Network 313 Paola A. Zizzi Occam's Razor Revisited: Simplicity vs. Complexity in Biology 327 Joseph P. Zbilut Order in the Nothing: Autopoiesis and the Organizational Characterization of the Living 339 Leonardo Bich and Luisa Damiano Anticipation in Biological and Cognitive Systems: The Need for a Physical Theory of Biological Organization 371 Graziano Terenzi How Uncertain is Uncertainty? 389 Tibor Vamos Archetypes, Causal Description and Creativity in Natural World 405 Leonardo Chiatti . (shrink)
Most philosophical accounts of emergence are based on supervenience, with supervenience being an ontologically synchronic relation of determination. This conception of emergence as a relation of supervenience, I will argue, is unable to make sense of the kinds of emergence that are widespread in self-organizing and nonlinear dynamical systems, including distributed cognitive systems. In these dynamical systems, an emergent property is ontological (i.e., the causal capacities of P, where P is an emergent feature, are not reducible to (...) causal capacities of the parts, and may exert a top-down causal influence on the parts of the system) and diachronic (i.e., the relata of emergence are temporally extended, and P emerges as a result of some dynamical lower-level processes that unfold in real time). (shrink)
The present article constitutes an attempt at a review of a few selected questions related to the complexity paradigm and its implications for research on cognition, especially within the so-called ecological approach framework. I propose several theses, among others concerning the two contrary tendencies within the dominant methodology (the propensity to search for simplicity and the growing emphasis on recognizing complexity), as well as the ontological consequences of the phenomenon under discussion (ontological emergence and processual emergentism).
In response to recent theories of emergence which attempt to examine system dynamics and the evolution of complexity from physics to biology and consciousness, a number of theologians have attempted to distill religious insights from a philosophical concept of emergence. Recent work by Terrence Deacon, however, which emphasizes constraint and a process understanding of complexity, undercuts significant features in emergent theologies, namely the privileging of certain loci within emergent complexity, an emphasis on efficient causation, and, theologically, an agential (...) and personal God. The final section of this article, using the example of Navaho religious thought, argues that other religious insights which centralize norm-ativity, global features of complexity, and are depersonalized, have greater traction with current scientific theories of emergence. (shrink)
Terrence Deacon has described three orders of emergence; Arthur Peacocke and others have suggested four levels of human systems and sciences; and Philip Clayton has postulated an additional, transcendent, level. Orders and levels describe distinct aspects of emergence, with orders characterizing topological complexity and levels characterizing theoretical knowledge and causal power. By using Deacon's orders to analyze and relate each of the four "lower" levels one can project that analysis on the transcendent level to gain insight into the (...) teleodynamic emergence of transcendent-level systems. I argue that cross-cultural interactions among human cultural-level systems results in the emergence of the "universal" transcendental norms historically characterized as the Greek Good, Beauty, and Truth. These norms require a dynamic existence that I characterize as the emergence of Spirit, using Josiah Royce's community of interpretation, and that I suggest provides a pragmatic clarification of Clayton's transcendent level. An understanding of those emergent norms clarifies ethical systems, highlights the importance of aesthetics in understanding scientific systems, and suggests the necessity of community in fruitful science-and-religion dialogue on human systems. (shrink)
The question of the ontological status of social wholes has been formative to the development of key positions and debates within modern social theory. Intrinsic to this is the contested meaning of the concept of emergence and the idea that the collective whole is in some way more than the sum of its parts. This claim, in its contemporary form, gives exaggerated importance to a simple truism of re-description that concerns all wholes. In this paper I argue that a (...) better way to test the ontological status of wholes is to ask whether their causal properties can be reduced to the qualities of their parts. If reduction is possible the ontological status of emergent wholes is diminished. A close analysis of William Wimsatt's definition, conceptualisation, and characterisation of emergent phenomena provides an understanding of the relationship between wholes and their parts and suggests, also, that the properties of collective phenomena of a social kind reduce to the activities of people. Social wholes and their parts reside in the same mode (or level) of organisation. This paper concludes by employing Jaegwon Kim's method of ‘functional reduction’ to demonstrate how to reduce the qualities of wholes to those of their parts. (shrink)
I defend a physicalistic version of ontological emergence; qualia emerge from the brain, but are physical properties nevertheless. First, I address the following questions: what are the central tenets of physicalistic ontological emergentism; what are the relationships between these tenets; what is the relationship between physicalistic ontological emergentism and non-reductive physicalism; and can there even be a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism? This discussion is merely an attempt to clarify exactly what a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism must claim, (...) and to show that the view is at least coherent. I then defend the view from objections, for example, Kim’s (Philos Stud 95:3–36, 1999 ) attempt to apply a version of his exclusion argument to ontological emergentism. I conclude by offering a positive argument for the view: given certain empirical evidence concerning the organization of the brain, physicalism might have to endorse ontological emergentism to avoid epiphenomenalism. (shrink)
In claiming the independence of theology from science, Ernan McMullin nevertheless saw the danger of separating these disciplines on questions of mutual significance, as his accompanying article “Biology and the Theology of the Human” in this edition of Zygon shows. This paper analyzes McMullin's adoption of emergence as a qualified endorsement of a view that avoids the excesses of both dualism and materialism. I argue that McMullin's distinctive contribution is the conceptual clarification of emergence in the light of (...) a precise understanding of matter, in light of Aristotelian metaphysics and Darwinian theory. As applied to human nature, McMullin retains an Augustinian outlook that sees spirit as emergent in the human body and which posits a credible biblical hermeneutic. I indicate briefly how McMullin's perspective could be fortified by a fuller natural theology. (shrink)
I develop a variant of the constraint interpretation of the emergence of purely physical (non-biological) entities, focusing on the principle of the non-derivability of actual physical states from possible physical states (physical laws) alone. While this is a necessary condition for any account of emergence, it is not sufficient, for it becomes trivial if not extended to types of constraint that specifically constitute physical entities, namely, those that individuate and differentiate them. Because physical organizations with these features are (...) in fact interdependent sets of such constraints, and because such constraints on physical laws cannot themselves be derived from physical laws, physical organization is emergent. These two complementary types of constraint are components of a complete non-reductive physicalism, comprising a non-reductive materialism and a non-reductive formalism. (shrink)
La vie est-elle un phénomène émergent ? Traduit-elle l'apparition de propriétés nouvelles au niveau d'un tout, qui seraient irréductibles aux propriétés et à l'organisation des composants de ce tout, ou encore imprédictibles à partir de ces mêmes éléments ? Développées à la charnière des XIXe et XXe siècles comme alternative aux deux approches antinomiques du vivant que sont le vitalisme et le mécanisme, la notion philosophique d'émergence connait aujourd'hui de nouveaux développements : avec la prise de conscience de la complexité (...) du vivant, un nouveau discours émergentiste refait surface en biologie et dans le champ scientifique des origines de la vie. Que signifie la notion d'émergence lorsqu'elle s'applique à l'apparition de la vie sur Terre ? Quelles sont sa pertinence et sa portée ? Dans ce livre, Christophe Malaterre propose une clarification conceptuelle de la notion philosophique d'émergence ; il en défend une conception epistémique et contextuelle, adossée à la notion d'explication. En s'inspirant des travaux les plus contemporains sur les origines de la vie, il montre que, selon le contexte epistémique dans lequel le phénomène est évalué, la qualification de l'apparition de la vie comme émergente est, ou non, justifié. Il défend alors la thèse selon laquelle la caractérisation émergentiste de l'apparition de la vie n'est qu'une conséquence temporaire des limites de nos connaissances scientifiques. (shrink)
For advocates of critical realism emergence is a central theme. Critical realists typically ground their defence of the relative disciplinary autonomy of various sciences by arguing that emergent phenomena exist in a robust non-ontologically, non-causally reductionist sense. Despite the importance they attach to it critical realists have only recently begun to elaborate on emergence at length and systematically compare their own account with those developed by others. This paper clarifies what is distinctive about the critical realist account of (...)emergence by comparing it with an alternative. Critical realism and interactivism are shown to independently converge on the same general process (or constraint) view of emergence and develop complementary accounts of particular emergents. (shrink)
This paper presents new results from a detailed study of the structure of autocatalytic sets. We show how autocatalytic sets can be decomposed into smaller autocatalytic subsets, and how these subsets can be identified and classified. We then argue how this has important consequences for the evolvability, enablement, and emergence of autocatalytic sets. We end with some speculation on how all this might lead to a generalized theory of autocatalytic sets, which could possibly be applied to entire ecologies or (...) even economies. (shrink)
We examine cases of emergent behavior in physics, and argue for an account of emergence based on features of the phase space portraits of certain dynamical systems. On our account, the phase space portraits of systems displaying emergent behavior are topologically inequivalent to those of the systems from which they ‘emerge’. This account gives us an objective sense in which emergent phenomena are qualitatively novel, without involving the difficulties associated with downward causation and the like. We also argue that (...) the role of complexity in emergence has been overstated: emergent behavior can occur in very simple systems, and even when it occurs in complex systems it is the qualitative novelty of that behavior, rather that the complexity of the system, that matters for emergence. (shrink)
Novelty and emergence in the quest for foundations. The search for firm foundations for a given knowledge, notably in the case of a formalized one, can be seen as a particular case of the search for deeper intelligibility. It generally brings to modifying the structural elements of the received knowledge (this having to do with questions of ontological relativity and epistemological holism), letting appear new elements of thought and of ‘reality’, emergent conceptual structures on the ground of the preceding (...) ones. We propose to show the link between the emergence of new kinds of knowledge, non thinkable previously, which enlarge the field of possible knowledge, and the effective “forward” motion of the search for foundations. (shrink)
This essay provides a criticai review of contemporary controversies related to the notion of emergence by discussing, among other recent views, Achim Stephan's defense of the ontological tradition of emergentist thought along the lines of C. D. Broad. Stephan's distinctions between various notions of emergence, different in strength, are useful as they clarify the state of discussion. There are, however, several unsettled problems concerning emergence. Some of these (e. g., downward causation) have been dealt with by Stephan, (...) Kim, and others, though not entirely sausfactorily, while others (e. g., the nature of properties, the issue of realism) would require further mvestigation in this context. It is argued in particular that downward causation would not trouble emergentists, were they willing to adopt a more Kantian and/or Wittgensteinian approach. Some examples of such an option are given. Thus, the article sketches a philosophical perspective from which a radical reassessment of the emergence debate could be pursued. (shrink)
Computational sociology models social phenomena using the concepts of emergence and downward causation. However, the theoretical status of these concepts is ambiguous; they suppose too much ontology and are invoked by two opposed sociological interpretations of social reality: the individualistic and the holistic. This paper aims to clarify those concepts and argue in favour of their heuristic value for social simulation. It does so by proposing a link between the concept of emergence and Luhmann's theory of communication. For (...) Luhmann, society emerges from the bottom-up as communication and he describes the process by which society limits the possible selections of individuals as downward causation. It is argued that this theory is well positioned to overcome some epistemological drawbacks in computational sociology. (shrink)
Nature and civilisation -- Climate and the forms of the atmosphere -- Surface and the forms of the land -- Living forms -- The forms of metabolism -- Humans - anatomical and cultural forms -- City forms -- The forms of information, energy and ecology -- Emergence.
The 'completeness of physics' is the key premise in the causal argument for physicalism. Standard formulations of it fail to rule out emergent downwards causation. I argue that it must do this if it is tare in a valid causal argument for physicalism. Drawing on the notion of conferring causal power, I formulate a suitable principle, 'strong completeness'. I investigate the metaphysical implications of distinguishing this principle from emergent downwards causation, and I argue that categoricalist accounts of properties are better (...) equipped to sustain the distinction than dispositional essentialist accounts. Finally, I argue that the additional evidence needed for strong completeness renders the causal argument otiose for any properties amenable to scientific reduction. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to understand the content of, and motivation for, a popular form of physicalism, which I call ‘non-reductive physicalism’. Non-reductive physicalism claims although the mind is physical (in some sense), mental properties are nonetheless not identical to (or reducible to) physical properties. This suggests that mental properties are, in earlier terminology, ‘emergent properties’ of physical entities. Yet many non-reductive physicalists have denied this. In what follows, I examine their denial, and I argue that on a plausible (...) understanding of what ‘emergent’ means, the denial is indefensible: non-reductive physicalism is committed to mental properties being emergent properties. It follows that the problems for emergentism—especially the problems of mental causation—are also problems for non-reductive physicalism, and they are problems for the same reason. (shrink)
I argue that supervenience is an inadequate device for representing relations between different levels of phenomena. I then provide six criteria that emergent phenomena seem to satisfy. Using examples drawn from macroscopic physics, I suggest that such emergent features may well be quite common in the physical realm.
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositional properties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
In this paper I examine Jaegwon Kim’s view that emergent properties are irreducible to the base properties on which they supervene. Kim’s view assumes a model of ‘functional reduction’ which he claims to be substantially different from the traditional Nagelian model. I dispute this claim and argue that the two models are only superficially different, and that on either model, properly understood, it is possible to draw a distinction between a property’s being reductively identifiable with its base property and a (...) property’s being reductively explainable in terms of it. I propose that we should take as the distinguishing feature of emergent properties that they be truly novel properties, i.e., ontologically distinct from the ‘base’ properties which they supervene on. This only requires that emergent properties cannot be reductively identified with their base properties, not that they cannot be reductively explained in terms of them. On this conception the set of emergent properties may well include mental properties as conceived by nonreductive physicalists. (shrink)
In the first section of this paper, I articulate Jaegwon Kim's argument against emergent down ward causation. In the second section, I canvas four responses to Kim's argument and argue that each fails. In the third section, I show that emergent downward causation does not, contra Kim, entail overdetermination. I argue that supervenience of emergent upon base properties is not sufficient for nomological causal relationsbetween emergent and base properties. What sustains Kim's argument is rather the claim that emergent properties realized (...) by base properties can have no causal powers distinct from those base properties. I argue that this is false. (shrink)
This paper responds to Jaegwon Kim's powerful objection to the very possibility of geninely novel emergent properties. Kim argues that the incoherence of reflexive downward causation means that the causal power of an emergent phenomenon is ultimately reducible to the causal powers of the causal powers of its constituents. I offer a simple argument showing how to claracterize emergent properties in terms of the effects of structural relations on the causal powers of their constituents.
The term ‘emergence’ often causesconfusion in science and philosophy, as it is used to express at leasttwo quite different concepts. We can label these concepts _strong_ _emergence_ and _weak emergence_. Both of these concepts are important, but it is vital to keep them separate.
The objective probability of every physical event is fixed by prior physical events and laws alone. (This thesis is sometimes expressed in terms of explanation: In tracing the causal history of any physical event, one need not advert to any non-physical events or laws. To the extent that there is any explanation available for a physical event, there is a complete explanation available couched entirely in physical vocabulary. We prefer the probability formulation, as it should be acceptable to any physicalist, (...) though some reject the explanation formulation.) (3) Causal Exclusion. (shrink)
The metaphysical relation of supervenience has seen most of its service in the fields of the philosophy of mind and ethics. Although not repaying all of the hopes some initially invested in it – the mind-body problem remains stubbornly unsolved, ethics not satisfactorily naturalized – the use of the notion of supervenience has certainly clarified the nature and the commitments of so- called non-reductive materialism, especially with regard to the questions of whether explanations of supervenience relations are required and whether (...) such explanations must amount to a kind of reduction. (shrink)
Since the origins of the notion of emergence in attempts to recover the content of vitalistic anti-reductionism without its questionable metaphysics, emergence has been treated in terms of logical properties. This approach was doomed to failure, because logical properties are either sui generis or they are constructions from other logical properties. If the former, they do not explain on their own and are inevitably somewhat arbitrary (the problem with the related concept of supervenience, Collier, 1988a), but if the (...) latter, reducibility is assured because logical constructs are reducible, by definition, to their logical components. A satisfactory account of emergence must recognise that it is a dynamical, not a logical property of property of natural systems, and that its basis is dynamical rather than logical composition. Collier (1988a) introduced the concept of cohesion as the closure of the causal relations among the dynamical parts of a dynamical particular that determine its resistance to external and internal fluctuations that might disrupt its integrity. Cohesion is an equivalence relation that partitions a set of dynamical particulars into unified and distinct entities, providing the identity conditions for such particulars. Cohesion blocks reduction of dynamical particulars, and is necessary for dynamical emergence. We will give reasons for thinking that cohesion might be sufficient for emergence as well. (shrink)
The paper uses ideas from Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Algorithms to provide a model of the development of a fight-or-flight response in a simulated agent. The modelled development process involves (simulated) processes of evolution, learning and representation development. The main value of the model is that it provides an illustration of how simple learning processes may lead to the formation of structures which can be given a representational interpretation. It also shows how these may form the infrastructure for (...) closely-coupled agent/environment interaction. (shrink)
Two challenges to the very possibility of emergence are addressed, one metaphysical and one logical. The resolution of the metaphysical challenge requires a shift to a process metaphysics, while the logical challenge highlights normative emergence, and requires a shift to more powerful logical tools -- in particular, that of implicit definition. Within the framework of a process metaphysics, two levels of normative emergence are outlined: that of function and that of representation.
The rob of knowledge workers in our society is an increasing focus of press and academic attention. Letiche suggests that knowledge workers often both work in and create "McDonaldized" simulacra, i.e. spaces for action that are less than real. He argues that the very concept of organizing is challenged by the tensions implicit in t h semi-ness of the semi-reality of subspaces. The arena for his argument is that of information technology. The language of his argument is that of identity, (...) self; logic and activity-terms more often found in European academic debate than in American management practice. Forgive Letiche's use of academic literant forms. This world of emergence and cyborgs and of warfare with cognitivist (social) Darwinism may be a bit alien to some readers, but the argument and message will not be. In the semi-real spaces of managing, creativity is bought only at a large cost to others and managers find themselves needing to determine when that price is worth paying. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challenge to both emergentism and non-reductive physicalism by providing arguments that these positons are committed to an untenabie combination of both 'upward' and 'dounward' determination. In section 1, I illuminate how the nature of the realization relation underlies such skeptical arguments However, in section 2, I suggest that such conclusions involve a confusion between the implications of physicalism and those of a related thesis in 'Completeness of Physics' (CoP). I show tht (...) the truth of CoP poses a very serious obstacle to realized properties being efficacious in a physicalist universe and suggest that abandoning CoP offers hope for defending non-reductive physicalism. I then fornulate a schema for a physicalist metaphysics, in section 3, which rejects CoP. This scenario is one where microphysical properties have a few conditional powers that they contribute to individuals when they realize certain properties. In such a situation, I argue, though physicalism holds true there is still plausibly both `upward' and 'downward' determination, where the latter is crucially an underappreciated form of determmation I term 'non- causal'. Ultimately, I conclude that this metaphysical schema offers a coherent account of Strongly ernergent properties that preserves the truth of NRP, albeit in a form that is purged of any committment to CoP. Finally, in section 4, I carefully explore which of Kim's assumptions and arguments this metaphysics undermines. (shrink)
This article explores the role of social factors in the emergence of self and other. It is suggested that the experience of causing actions contributes to a basic sense of self in which awareness of mental states and the experience of a mental self are grounded. According to the proposed evolutionary scenario, the experience of agency emerged as individuals acting in social context learned to differentiate between effects caused by their own actions and effects resulting from joint action. Through (...) joint action, individuals also developed an understanding of others' actions as goal-directed, paving the way for imitation. The ability to distinguish between action capabilities of self and other and the understanding that action-effect principles apply equally to self and other may have provided important advantages in circumstances where cooperative action and social learning were critical. The current proposal adds to previous evolutionary scenarios in that it identifies social conditions that may have shaped a basic sense of self. This, in turn, could have given rise to theory of mind and the cultural construction of mental selves. (shrink)
This paper explores the fundamental ideas that have motivated the idea of emergence and the movement of emergentism. The concept of reduction, which lies at the heart of the emergence idea is explicated, and it is shown how the thesis that emergent properties are irreducible gives a unified account of emergence. The paper goes on to discuss two fundamental unresolved issues for emergentism. The first is that of giving a “positive” characterization of emergence; the second is (...) to give a coherent explanation of how “downward” causation, a central component of emergentism, is able to avoid the problem of overdetermination. (shrink)
Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that (...) focuses on the complexity of developmental systems, on the non-linearity of gene– environment interactions, and on multi-level selective processes to argue that the full story of biology is a bit more complicated than that. Reductionism can marshal on its behalf the spectacular successes of genetics and molecular biology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Holism has built on the development of entirely new disciplines and conceptual frameworks over the past few decades, including evo-devo and phenotypic plasticity. Yet, a number of biologists are still actively looking for a way out of the reductionism–holism counterposition, often mentioning the word ‘emergence’ as a way to deal with the conundrum. This paper briefly examines the philosophical history of the concept of emergence, distinguishes between epistemic and ontological accounts of it, and comments on conceptions of emergence that can actually be useful for practising evolutionary biologists. (shrink)
An innocent form of emergence—what I call "weak emergence"—is now a commonplace in a thriving interdisciplinary nexus of scientific activity—sometimes called the "sciences of complexity"—that include connectionist modelling, non-linear dynamics (popularly known as "chaos" theory), and artificial life.1 After defining it, illustrating it in two contexts, and reviewing the available evidence, I conclude that the scientific and philosophical prospects for weak emergence are bright.
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downward causation is question-begging (...) and makes false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
The idea of a higher level phenomenon having a downward causal influence on a lower level process or entity has taken a variety of forms. In order to discuss the relation between emergence and downward causation, the specific variety of the thesis of downward causation (DC) must be identified. Based on some ontological theses about inter-level relations, types of causation and the possibility of reduction, three versions of DC are distinguished. Of these, the `Strong' form of DC is held (...) to be in conflict with contemporary science; the `Medium' version of DC may for instance describe thoughts constraining neurophysiological states, while the `Weak' form of DC is physically acceptable but may not in practice be a feasible description of the mind/brain or the cell/molecule relation. All forms have their specific problems, but the Medium and the Weak version seems to be most promising. (shrink)
This is one of two papers about emergence, reduction and supervenience. It expounds these notions and analyses the general relations between them. The companion paper analyses the situation in physics, especially limiting relations between physical theories. I shall take emergence as behaviour that is novel and robust relative to some comparison class. I shall take reduction as deduction using appropriate auxiliary definitions. And I shall take supervenience as a weakening of reduction, viz. to allow infinitely long definitions. The (...) overall claim of this paper will be that emergence is logically independent both of reduction and of supervenience. In particular, one can have emergence with reduction, as well as without it; and emergence without supervenience, as well as with it. Of the subsidiary claims, the four main ones (each shared with some other authors) are: (i): I defend the traditional Nagelian conception of reduction (Section 3}); (ii): I deny that the multiple realizability argument causes trouble for reductions, or ``reductionism'' (Section 4); (iii): I stress the collapse of supervenience into deduction via Beth's theorem (Section 5.1); (iv): I adapt some examples already in the literature to show supervenience without emergence and vice versa (Section 5.2). (shrink)
Weak emergence is the view that a system’s macro properties can be explained by its micro properties but only in an especially complicated way. This paper explains a version of weak emergence based on the notion of explanatory incompressibility and “crawling the causal web.” Then it examines three reasons why weak emergence might be thought to be just in the mind. The first reason is based on contrasting mere epistemological emergence with a form of ontological (...) class='Hi'>emergence that involves irreducible downward causation. The second reason is based on the idea that attributions of emergence are always a reflection of our ignorance of non-emergent explanations. The third reason is based on the charge that complex explanations are anthropocentric. Rather than being just in the mind, weak emergence is seen to involve a distinctive kind of complex, macro-pattern in the mind-independent objective micro-causal structure that exists in nature. The paper ends by addressing two further questions. One concerns whether weak emergence applies only or mainly to computer simulations and computational systems. The other concerns the respect in which weak emergence is dynamic rather than static. (shrink)
“Ontological emergence” of inherent high-level properties with causal powers is witnessed nowhere. A non-substantialist conception of emergence works much better. It allows downward causation, provided our concept of causality is transformed accordingly.
A twofold taxonomy for emergence is presented into which a variety of contemporary accounts of emergence fit. The first taxonomy consists of inferential, conceptual, and ontological emergence; the second of diachronic and synchronic emergence. The adequacy of weak emergence, a computational form of inferential emergence, is then examined and its relationship to conceptual emergence and ontological emergence is detailed. †To contact the author, please write to: Corcoran Department of Philosophy, 120 Cocke Hall, (...) University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904‐4780; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
A framework for representing a specific kind of emergent property instance is given. A solution to a generalized version of the exclusion argument is then provided and it is shown that upwards and downwards causation is unproblematical for that kind of emergence. One real example of this kind of emergence is briefly described and the suggestion made that emergence may be more common than current opinions allow.
I discuss here a number of different kinds of diachronic emergence, noting that they differ in important ways from synchronic conceptions. I argue that Bedau’s weak emergence has an essentially historical aspect, in that there can be two indistinguishable states, one of which is weakly emergent, the other of which is not. As a consequence, weak emergence is about tokens, not types, of states. I conclude by examining the question of whether the concept of weak emergence (...) is too weak and note that there is at present no unifying account of diachronic and synchronic concepts of emergence. (shrink)
Ultimately we will only understand biological agency when we have developed a theory of the organization of biological processes, and science is still a long way from attaining that goal. It may be possible nonetheless to develop a list of necessary conditions for the emergence of minimal biological agency. The authors offer a model of molecular autonomous agents which meets the five minimal physical conditions that are necessary (and, we believe, conjointly sufficient) for applying agential language in biology: autocatalytic (...) reproduction; work cycles; boundaries for reproducing individuals; self-propagating work and constraint construction; and choice and action that have evolved to respond to food or poison. When combined with the arguments from preadaptation and multiple realizability, the existence of these agents is sufficient to establish ontological emergence as against what one might call Weinbergian reductionism. Minimal biological agents are emphatically not conscious agents, and accepting their existence does not commit one to any robust theory of human agency. Nor is there anything mystical, dualistic, or non-empirical about the emergence of agency in the biosphere. Hence the emergence of molecular autonomous agents, and indeed ontological emergence in general, is not a negation of or limitation on careful biological study but simply one of its implications. (shrink)