The hidden battles over emergence

In Philip Clayton (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 801--819 (2006)

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Abstract
By Carl Gillett, Illinois Wesleyan University. Ontological reductionism has long dominated the sciences and intellectual life more broadly. It holds that a ‘final theory’ in physics would, in principle, suffice to explain all natural phenomena and that, ultimately, the entities of such a theory, like quarks with their properties of spin, charm and charge, are all that actually exists. Recently, however, a mounting challenge to this hegemonic reductionism has been focused around ‘emergent’ entities. On one hand, philosophers and a range of writers in Science and Religion have provided new theoretical resources in anti-reductionist, ‘emergentist’ views of the structure of nature. Whilst on the other hand, a parade of eminent scientists, from disciplines as varied as condensed matter physics, evolutionary biology, the sciences of complexity, and cognitive science, have all argued that their empirical findings provide actual examples of ‘emergence’ in nature.
Keywords Science and religion--History of controversy  Emergence (Philosophy)  Reductionism  Science--Philosophy  Ontology
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Reprint years 2009
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ISBN(s) 0199279276  
DOI 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199543656.003.0048
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