Determinism, predictability and open-ended evolution: lessons from computational emergence

Synthese 185 (2):195-214 (2012)
Among many properties distinguishing emergence, such as novelty, irreducibility and unpredictability, computational accounts of emergence in terms of computational incompressibility aim first at making sense of such unpredictability. Those accounts prove to be more objective than usual accounts in terms of levels of mereology, which often face objections of being too epistemic. The present paper defends computational accounts against some objections, and develops what such notions bring to the usual idea of unpredictability. I distinguish the objective unpredictability, compatible with determinism and entailed by emergence, and various possibilities of predictability at emergent levels. This makes sense of practices common in complex systems studies that forge qualitative predictions on the basis of comparisons of simulations with multiple values of parameters. I consider robustness analysis as a way to ensure the ontological character of computational emergence. Finally, I focus on the property of novelty, as it is displayed by biological evolution, and ask whether computer simulations of evolution can produce the same kind of emergence as the open-ended evolution attested in Phanerozoic records
Keywords Emergence  Computation  Unpredictability  Robustness  Causation  Open-ended evolution
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-010-9721-7
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jaegwon Kim (1999). Making Sense of Emergence. Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.
David Lewis (1973). Causation. Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
Daniel C. Dennett (1996). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):169-174.
Michael Weisberg (2006). Robustness Analysis. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):730-742.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Olivier Sartenaer (2015). Emergent Evolutionism, Determinism and Unpredictability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51 (2):62-68.
Kari L. Theurer (2014). Complexity-Based Theories of Emergence: Criticisms and Constraints. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (3):277-301.
Mark Pexton (2016). Emergence and Interacting Hierarchies in Shock Physics. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):91-122.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

63 ( #77,474 of 1,924,955 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

16 ( #40,129 of 1,924,955 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.