Strong Emergence as a Defese of Non-Reductive Physicalism

Carl Gillett
Northern Illinois University
Jaegwon Kim, and others, have recently posed a powerful challenge to both emergentism and non-reductive physicalism by providing arguments that these positions are committed to an untenable combination of both ‘upward’ and ‘downward’ 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 the ‘Completeness of Physics’. I show that 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 nonreductive physicalism. I then formulate 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 determination I term ‘non- causal’. Ultimately, I conclude that this metaphysical schema offers a coherent account of Strongly emergent properties that preserves the truth of NRP, albeit in a form that is purged of any commitment to CoP. Finally, in section 4, I carefully explore which of Kim’s assumptions and arguments this metaphysics undermines.
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A New Look at Emergence. Or When After is Different.Alexandre Guay & Olivier Sartenaer - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (2):297-322.
Synchronic Vs. Diachronic Emergence: A Reappraisal.Olivier Sartenaer - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (1):31-54.
Explanation, Emergence and Causality: Comments on Crane.Michele Di Francesco - 2010 - In Graham Macdonald & Cynthia Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press.

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